The Sassy Sandpiper: Accidentally a Crazy Cat Lady
By M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter
Maybe it is best you don’t count the felines.
We had cats when I was growing up.
Even before I was born, there lived the legendary Shadow, a gray Persian mix my grandparents loved. Granny related the sorrow of his demise on a highway in rural Nebraska; how my grandfather cradled Shadow’s body and wept.
Granny told childhood stories of kittens dressed up in doll clothes, and her sister Gladyce neatly slicing a mouse in two, settling a squabble between hunters.
Ivan, a charcoal tabby, was First Cat in our new house in St. Petersburg’s Westgate Manor. My Dad installed a swing set and sandbox for my baby brother and me. And for Ivan, as Fate had it. Ivan made that sandbox his territory, with all amenities such territories afford. Daniel and I contracted a nematode parasite, larva migrans, which burrowed under the skin of our palms and backsides, making painfully itching red tracks. The grown-ups were appalled. Dr. Norris administered treatment I shall not here describe.
Ivan had to go. We did what lots of folks did back then, and many still do today: We released Ivan in a grassy field far away from our home, within roaming distance of human dwellings. We left him with a little food in his bowl and the hope he’d find another family soon. It saddens me to this day.
Happier cat times followed. A tiny orange tiger cat found his way into the carport. Mom was bed-ridden with the flu for two weeks, the little newcomer nestled beside her. He was named “Poo-Say.” Never was a sweeter, more affectionate cat to be found. Poo-Say drooled his love over everyone.
Fast forward to the 21st Century.
I still grieved for my relinquished ‘70s cats: Demetrius, adopted too young and Aphrodite, nearly killed by Dachshund Schultz; a stodgy decades-long “no cats” mandate. Accompanying monumental personal change, the Universe sent compensation the summer of 2013, a stray and heavily pregnant Bengal mix. I named her “Boa,” for her constrictor-like markings.
The Plan: Shelter Boa during pregnancy and weaning, spay/neuter the whole family, find wonderful forever homes for them. Maybe keep one or two.
Senior cat Evinrude (motorboat purr), belonging to my best-ever friend-in-all-the-world, was not pleased. Lady Jane Greyhound watched warily.
On June 24, Boa gave life to five kittens behind a living room chair, then delivered a surprise sixth as I moved her litter to a comfy box in the library closet. Six! All perfectly robust.
“I’m not naming them because I am not keeping them!”
Alpha, Bruiser, Pixel, Ohm, Balboa, Panther, Boa and Evi co-own the house.
You knew how this would go, didn’t you?
Eighteen months later at PetsMart, my heart melted as a little white paw beckoned through cage bars. I couldn’t take the ginger and leave the calico.
You’ve been counting? Please don’t tell.
Maybe it’s poetic justice for Dingbat, so unmercifully teased by my Dad, she had her kittens on the roof.
(Merry Ruthe (M. R.) Wilson was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, coming with her family as part of the “Great Migration” to Florida in 1956. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, earning a B.A. degree in English and Psychology, and did graduate work at the University of South Florida. Wilson is a retired teacher, has published a novel, children’s literature, and a memoir, Waaaay Beyond Lemonade. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her column, The Sassy Sandpiper, will run periodically in Tampa Bay Reporter.)
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