When you’re a childless pet owner, your pets are your babies. Without question. They just are.
As the movie Lady and the Tramp suggests, the furry babies eventually take a back seat to the hairless ones in terms of attention and affection, but they are no less dear to your heart.
I’ve mentioned this cat or that one before, but when the SHEBAÂ® brand invited me to write about my cat’s personality, I couldn’t write about just one.
George & Gracie
The day before I signed the papers on my new house, just weeks after I graduated from college, I adopted George and Gracie. They were tiny kittens, playful and active. George got sick and died just a few weeks later (and I have only one blurry picture of him, as yet unscanned), but Gracie was my buddy every day for thirteen years.
Every pet has a personality.
George was so sick for so long; I don’t remember his personality really. If my mom was alive, I’m sure she would.
Gracie-cat, though. Grace was girly. She loved to reach her claws into lacy, silky, frilly material. I told her every day, “Get your feet out of my curtain!” and she would screech back at me like an insolent child.
I rescued George and Gracie from an organization, so I never really knew her ancestry, but I always suspected she was part Oriental. She had the look and the characteristic voice. Most of the time she was quiet, but if something was awry, she was the first to complain.
Water dish has cat hair floating in it?
Litter box needs scooping?
She could see the bottom of the cat food dish?
She wanted to go outside?
Yeeeow! Yeeeow! Yeeeow!
I really miss her voice, especially at night.
Gracie-cat was an adept window hunter, constantly chattering at the birds and squirrels in the bushes a few feet away, and she was the most persistent of all my kitties.
I always knew when Gracie was hungry; she would begin by running her face along my fingers. If I didn’t wake up, she would lick my fingers and then run her teeth along them. If that didn’t work, she would Yeeeow! an inch from my nose. If all else failed, she would bit my fingers – hard. I never waited longer than the bite to see what would happen next.
Gracie-cat had teeth and claws and she knew how to use them to get what she wanted.
Despite her forceful personality, Gracie-cat was always a little neurotic. I think she had been abused or mistreated in some way; she was never comfortable with me. She was always terrified of plastic bags and of heavy shoes. She never got over those fears.
Before I met Joe and got married and had babies, Gracie-cat was often in the living room, chattering at the birds or chewing my pen or taking the papers I tried to grade. After all that, she rarely left my bedroom, hiding from the kids in her bed in the back of my closet. I haven’t removed it yet. I’m not ready.
In her last two years, she finally warmed up to Grace (the child) a little. Grace loved to pet her and coo at her when she would come out and purr on my bed.
Both of my kids call my big, tough cat Zeusee. Or maybe it’s Zeusy. Either way, it’s funny, because he’s big and tough and ornery and formidable to everyone but me and Allie.
Zeus was discovered when he was about one week old after his stray mother had been hit by a car. His siblings had all died, but the kind man who found them took him home to his mother, who fed him with a tiny bottle and cared for him, even as their veterinarian gave no hope.
But he grew.
And he grew.
And he grew some more.
The kind woman eventually had to find a permanent home for the baby, as she already had three dogs and three cats. A few days after George died, my vet’s office called me and asked if I’d like another kitten.
When they brought him out, I was surprised to see a stout, barrel-chested, wiry kitten, a stark contrast from the soft, tiny kittens I’d adopted. He looked and acted like a little dog, ornery and bossy and aggressive.
As he grew, his personality grew. As a kitten, he always tried to find the highest spot in the room, to look down on everyone else – top of the refrigerator, top of the kitchen cabinets, ledges, bookshelves. Joe had to watch out if he got too close – Zeus never backed down, especially if he felt threatened. He has always been quick to swipe or bite.
He’s always liked to chew – cardboard, wood, plastic, paper. He likes to shred and chew and destroy. Before I had kids, I had all sizes and shapes of cardboard boxes sitting around in various states of dissection.
And strings? Zeus has never met a string he couldn’t chew in half. Balloons left near the floor always lose their weights; he chews the strings off in the middle of the night.
As I mentioned in my last post, Zeus can hear a can of SHEBAÂ® EntrÃ©es for Cats open from a dead sleep behind a closed door. He loves SHEBAÂ® cat food. His nickname is Chubs; I limit him to one can a day at this point in his life.
Zeus has always believed himself the alpha male of the household, a point contested by Mr. Ziegmont. The pendulum swings back and forth.
Joe is afraid of being bitten or scratched, so usually, it’s the smaller of the two who gets his way.
As a toddler, Grace called Zeus and Molly our grabby cats because they both pushed her around. Now that she’s bigger, she is less scared of Zeus.
Not entirely unafraid, but much less so.
I brought Little Max home from a friend’s house when he was barely bigger than a tennis ball. The owner needed the kittens to go to new homes so that the mother cat could get neutered. It was a big story. He wasn’t big enough to leave his mother.
We had quite an interesting couple of weeks as I fed Max chicken-flavored baby food through a syringe because he refused the milk our vet gave me. And he pooped all over the house, completely unaware of the litter box concept.
Little Max was my baby. He slept on my pillow until he took up the whole thing, then he moved (begrudgingly) to the middle of the bed. He waited for me every day when I came home from work, and he hugged me with his paws around my neck.
Every time I sat down to use the computer, Max jumped up on my lap and nuzzled his nose under my ear and purred. It was hard to get anything done because he was always sitting on my shoulder or my head (!) or reaching up to hug my neck.
Little Max had a congenital heart condition that I didn’t know about (how could I know?), and he died three weeks before his second birthday. I missed three days of work. I have a tattoo of Little Max on my left arm.
Her name was actually Molly, but I’m not sure when or why I started calling her Molly Molly.
She had the same mother as Little Max, and I got duped into taking her home with the same sob story as with Max one year earlier. I stopped going over to their house after that.
Molly never really cared for me, biting or scratching me nearly every time I ever touched her. She just didn’t return my affection. She bloodied me many times.
I don’t remember that she ever played with me (but maybe?), but she loved to play with my mom. She loved to play with these tiny Christmas mice, too, and she went crazy for catnip.
Nonetheless, Molly always wanted to be in the room with us. Often, on top of whatever we were doing. (All of my cats have always done that. It’s the most annoying thing about cats, in my opinion).
When I got pregnant, Molly went into full protective mode. She laid on my belly (the cat who never allowed me to touch her!), and she purred and kneaded. She laid with the babies (but never touched them).
Whatever the baby was doing, there she was.
She even helped me to potty train Grace.
Molly died in 2012 after a spinal cord injury.
Sammy was a charity case. His owner didn’t want him any more (I don’t remember why), and he wasn’t very good with little kids, but he was well trained and a very nice cat.
I loved him the first time I met him. His name was Annie, but knowing he was a boy, I couldn’t call him that any more. Sammy sounded close enough.
Sammy drools. A lot. Especially when he purrs.
I took him to the vet to inquire about this drooling, and the vet said it was normal.
Sammy was instantly at home with us. Like Molly, he never wants to be far away. If I’m in the living room, he sits on my chair. If I’m in the bathroom, he jumps up onto the sink. If I’m in the dining room, he sits under the table.
He’s as bad as my kids.
Sammy’s previous owner had his front claws taken out, so I knew he could never go outside.
Except he wanted to go outside.
When he and Molly started really fighting badly and hurting each other, I bought a cat door and let them come and go as they pleased. I rigged up a screen around my back porch, and the cats went in and out but couldn’t actually roam free.
It was the perfect system.
Until the cat with no claws climbed up the porch rail, over the screen, and down the other side. Then he showed all the others how to do the same, and one day, I went out to find all the cats had escaped into the yard.
Two days later, Sammy ripped off two of his back claws perfecting his up and over the screen maneuver, and he had to have surgery. I took down the screen and just let them all come and go as they pleased. Our neighbor in the back thought it was great; they kept the rodents out of his garage.
One time, I saw him jumping over the neighbor’s 6-foot fence to harass the neighbor’s dog. I was embarrassed.
And then I saw this and was mortified:
Sammy loves to be outside, and Sammy cannot mind his own business. I was forever taking him to the vet for an abscessed bit or scratch or puncture wound. The last time, the time that his skin around the wound turned black and I was convinced he was going to die from gangrene, I removed the cat door from the house and never put it back.
(I let Molly in and out through the regular door after that, because she could mind her own business and stay out of trouble.)
He is crafty and does escape once in a while, and every time I pray that he will come back without any puncture wounds. When he’s been out too long, I go out onto the back porch, call him a few times, and I open a can of SHEBAÂ® cat food. He always comes running.
That’s my Sammy. He’s a good boy.
So there you have it. All the
cats loves of my adult life.
Well, I have more loves, but you know what I mean. They’re my boys and my girls and my babies, and my heart aches for the ones who are gone and treasures the two I have left.
SHEBAÂ® Cat Food
They’ve all eaten SHEBAÂ® because they ensure a premium meal with an irresistible taste. All SHEBAÂ® recipes are formulated without corn, wheat, soy, or gluten, and never have artificial flavors or preservatives, and the SHEBAÂ® brand guarantees that your cat will love it, or your money back. I hate wasting food, and my cats never do.
Do your cats have unique personalities? What do they like to eat?
This program is sponsored by SHEBAÂ® Brand and BlogHer. I was compensated for my writing but all opinions are my own.
© 2014, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.