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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Last Hamiltonian Cat

Major General Schuyler and Elizabeth enjoy a treat from their indulgent human 

Orange Elizabeth —you used to be so petite! When we adopted you, you weighed four lbs. You were plunked down on the counter of a friend’s pet store with half a bag of Walmart Cat food and the parting remark, “Take her. My daughter can’t keep her any longer because cats smother babies.” After imparting this bit of folk wisdom, the 3 bonnet ladies—the youngest, pregnant and weeping--walked out and left Elizabeth behind.
Major General Schuyler relaxing

Stunned, my friend tucked her into a bunny cage for the day and then took her home and hid her from her husband, who’d sworn there would to be “no more darn cats in this house!” Before you think him an ogre, you need to understand that she already had sheep, assorted dogs, cats, teenagers, a business to run, and a big gray Macau.
                                                                                                 The Renowned Hamilton
The next day she called me and begged me to take the young cat. I had four puddies at that time, but Lizzie was smart enough to sleep under the covers with my grumpy husband for a few days, which was exactly the move guaranteed to open the door to a permanent new home.

She was always a lap cat, a lady who liked to share a couch with us in the evening while her Mommy—not so svelte herself—snacked and watched TV. In her youth, Liz hunted bunnies, birds and chipmunks with deadly skill,  committing rodenticide along with the best of 'em, but with a bottomless food bowl and a lap ever available, she soon retired from these classic feline pastimes.  Sitting on the porch on long lazy summer evenings, the resident house wren could scold to her heart’s content, but Lizzie, stretched out on the cement like a purring mini-tiger, would no longer so much as twitch the tip of an ear.

Years passed. Her hips bothered her. She lost the ability to climb onto the couch or into my bed. It was difficult for her to clean. If I helped, the thanks received was sometimes hissing and a lightning fast rake – the only dynamite move she had left. Some years back, when my son visited, he declared her “a Tribble, not a cat.”   At that time she was round as a ball, legs barely visible. When we were gifted with a second orange female, Lizzie, in disgust, temporarily banished herself from the downstairs. The two “orange girls”  have continued an on-going feud for the last five years, complete with hissy fits when they unexpectedly encountered one another.

Spring and Elizabeth

Lizzie's old age was best for sleeping with me, but even that wasn't an unmixed blessing.  She took to waking me with blurt-blurt-blurt and the delicate, ever-increasing pressure of a claw against my ear. Like Simon’s Cat ©, she then pointed to her mouth, asking for me to go down the kitchen and bring back a treat. When Kitty Bob, who, like males of all species, enjoys pushing the buttons of females, scrambled noisily onto the a/c in the bedroom window, Liz would attack the the blinds, spitting and screaming. Our long-grown-and-gone sons never engaged in this much sibling rivalry!

Goldfish in from the pond, Liz, Bastet
Then, she began to lose weight. I know the end signs, but after 16 going on 17 years, it was impossible for me to admit what was happening. She stopped grooming, so every evening I helped out. I offered canned cat food as I believed she had a tooth going bad. When her face puffed on one side, she and I went to the Vet.
It was not a tooth, however. It was cancer, so I listened to the advice of Dr. Mimnagh, our excellent Vet for the past 33 years, and made the decision every pet owner eventually must. Afterward, they wrapped her little body and I took her home through a sudden, blinding, traffic-jamming downpour--my tears and Nature as one.
This morning, my husband and I put her into the ground, wrapped in a bit of Halloween print fabric—orange with black cats—and accompanied by a sprig Rosemary (for remembrance) and a sprig of catnip for sweet dreams.   Sorely missed she is, my sweet soft little ding-bat companion!

You can tell by the monitor how long ago this was

~Juliet Waldron

All my historicals, written with kitty help: 

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