Sunday, 2 September 2012

My Cat: Larger Than Life

UPDATE: My cat, the great Slayer of Beasts, was taken down by Kitty Cancer in March of 2013. She was a mighty 15 years old. Lights went out all over the city that night (I'm pretty sure), and a hundred mice screamed and keeled over suddenly. At some point in history.

RIP sweetie, you were like a sister to me. A weird, hairy, four-legged sister who licked her own butt and pooped in a box.

That's right. I appropriated the title of a Backstreet Boys song. For my cat.

The boss.

This was something that started out as a "pet of the week" submission on facebook for the furry one we call "Kitty" (even though her name is Kato... we call her Kitty). But once I started, I just kept going... the language I was using to describe her got more and more grandiose, and eventually, she became.... EPIC.

Kitty is the Chuck Norris of cats.

Kato is 14 years old, and if she were writing this, she would make certain to inform you that she is nothing short of a legend in her own time.

As a kitten, she was an irresistible bundle of fur, and I daresay she knew it. I adopted her from the shelter when she was 8 weeks old, and I've been regretting it ever since. A popular running joke of my mother's when I was a teenager was "That cat is just like you- she doesn't listen, either!"

Through the years, she has amused, upset, exasperated and entertained everyone in my family, and we wouldn't have had it any other way. As a kitten, she was a holy terror sometimes; it was her way or the highway! And who could resist, when she was so adorable? She ruled the roost. She would often jump up onto the back of my leg and climb me like a cat tree, all the way to my shoulder. She enjoyed talking incessantly and loved her tinfoil balls, pieces of string, pens and paper tubes, but showed a decided disregard for any toys that we might have actually paid for.

In the years beyond kittenhood, she developed a unique set of manners. She became timid and afraid of loud noises (possibly due to being raised with us rambunctious human children), but was still very spoiled and attended to. She was like a small, furry sibling to us; we loved her and learned to communicate with her. We developed the habit of talking to her like she was a person. She learned to respond with miaows, hisses, eye squeezes, tail flicks and cocked ears. We learned to interpret these signs as talking.

She was two years old when her legend began; she met her nemesis, in the form of a two-month-old German Shepherd cross. She often watched (and plotted) from a kitchen chair as the (then) similar-sized Furry Hoover Vacuum of Doom checked and rechecked the kitchen floor for dropped tidbits. It was during this time that she showed her great cunning and became a great "slayer" of dogs... she could get away with teasing the dog (truthfully, she was in and out like a ninja. I thought she was made of lightning, we couldn't stop her), but we would often stop the dog from chasing her. In time, she completely dominated a full grown adult German Shepherd cross, and duped us into helping her do it. Her favorite move was to run up, swipe at the offending canine with a paw (or jump off of a piece of furniture onto the dog's back) and then take off running down the hallway at full speed, tail held high. Despite her obvious cheekiness, the dog loved her and was always gentle with her during their supervised play times.

She carried her legend to the more mundane tasks of life as well. When it came to human training, she was second to none. Always strict but loving, whenever her bowl was empty she stood in front of it and yowled at me, coming to rub herself against my legs in polite request. But if this failed to get the desired results in good time, she would hiss- very short, very polite without a hint of aggression, but a hiss nonetheless. I interpreted it as a polite reprimand as well as a demand that this unacceptable situation be rectified immediately. She was also often kind enough to inform me when I was a bit late in cleaning her litter box by doing her business right in front of it.

The summers of her youth were nothing short of idyllic. I remember her, sitting idly in front of (or yes, sometimes hanging from) the screen door at my parent's house watching birds, enjoying an evening sunbeam, or catching the odd fly. When we had a moth or two in the house, she wouldn't rest until she had my attention so I could lift her up to the hallway light and help her catch the fluttery invaders.

Kato is old now, and she is no longer made of lightning. She sleeps more than she used to, she no longer begs to be lifted to the hallway light to catch any moths that might wander in, her evening sprints up and down the hallway (that used to last for so long that they drove my mom nuts) have changed to an occasional short dash and she hasn't run up my back since she became too heavy to do so. She enjoys simple pleasures, most of which are a part of her evening routine: playing with her catnip duck, getting pets, sitting in boxes, laying down in sunbeams, hiding under the blankets in my bed, watching the world go by from the balcony window (minus the hanging off of), and being brushed (ESPECIALLY being brushed!). But the heart of a lion still lurks within… she still bravely defends the household from the Invading Red Dot of Light whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

And thusly, a legend was born.

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