Likes: mechanical thingies, anything Dad is assembling
Pet-Peeves: Getting picked up or hugged. Getting shut out of the bathroom when Mom or Dad go in
Favorite Toy: The laser spotlight itself (not the dot) or a 'bulldog' paper clip with a rubberband tied to it
Favorite Nap Spot: On my feet
Favorite Food: Tuna
Skills: figuring things out (the red dot comes from the flashlight, the green fish is controlled by the tip of the fishing rod)
Arrival Story: Mrrphh and her mom-cat were waiting at Petco for a forever home, but Mrrphh is not "ooo, adopt me" cute. In fact, she exploded into her Ninja Swiss Army Cat mode when Staff tried to pick her up and hand her to me. Mrrphh was so angry! Fearless angry! The other cat with her, her mom-cat Kitty Rou’, was the coolly calculating survivor, tolerant but watchful for a bolt-hole. What's not to love about these two? Of course I took them both home! ...but two females in the same house? Ufda, y'all! Every little thing turns into a shoving match! Fortunately Mrrphh likes to climb up and stare down and mom-cat Kitty Rou' likes ‘down and under’ hidey holes. They push and shove and do whap-whap or sit down on top of each other for nap spots, either on my ankles (I'm bedfast) or on top of one of the cat trees or Dad's bed.
Mrrphh was probably 8 mos old when she finally came here to her forever home, where I pay the rent. We live on the 17th floor of a downtown highrise, in a spacious apartment with a balcony and lots of birds and flowers pretty much year round. Her response to growing up homeless was to become a Marxist; the first six months we had long arguments - me on the floor in the hallway and she hiding in the closet - about class warfare and dysdistributive economics, but as far as I could tell her politics were really about garnering mass tuna fish for herself.
Bio: She arrived home terrified of being inside, so we made lots of carpeted trails and nap spots way up high on the walls, on top of the armoire, the bookcases, and such where she could hide and watch us all, safe and very smug in her eyrie. Her mom-cat likes down and under hidey holes, which splits the territory up nicely. They both like to explore the big (8' long x 18" wide) flower box on the balcony. One day, though, we looked out the window and there was Mrrphh, casually strolling by on the window ledge of our 17th floor! Fortunately she comes when I call her, and she did this time, too. I think she smelled the cold fear on us, and so gives us the great gift of never doing that again.
*When first she arrived she made quite a fuss about being a Baby Cat and not ‘kitten,’ which term she thought was just too cutsie-pie, discriminatory, demeaning, and oppressive. So, okay, we called her “Baby Cat” or “BC.” It was fully a year before she suddenly told me her name, “Mrrphh,” which is hard to write in English. In the early days, once, she screamed something at me. It sounded like this: Ich bin eine heftige Katze! (I am a violent cat!) which I had no idea she spoke German nor why she believed herself to be violent, her Ninja Swiss Army Cat pose not withstanding. In fact, shortly after her German outburst, one of the people who helps me with my disability moved a big chair. This horrified Baby Cat who streaked across all of the furniture to land on my chest, there to curl up for the rest of the day. Thus she slept for three days, before resuming her customary occupation of my feet.
Now, see, until then we thought she did not purr because she hated being held or sitting on a lap and we never heard a thing when we petted and brushed her on top of the cat tree. But that day on my chest it was obvious that she had a robust and happy purr, but it’s silent! Mystery solved. She vibrates and hums like a major machine, but silently. Once, when she had a cold, her purr was very loud; Hey! I’m talking across-the-room-over-the-TV-sound loud!
Technocat: Mrrphh’s pretty contemptuous of toys and would rather filch thingies from my desk, batting each little whatever off the edge and sitting there watching it drop. Or she watches Dad putting something together. On this latter she claims that, like St Paul before her, (here her piercing gaze affixes me firmly, because another of her wildcat claims is that St Paul died for lack of tuna fish and catnip) So. Like St Paul before her she, too, gave up the things of a child when she became an adult just as he wrote: “When I was a baby cat*, I used to speak like a baby cat, think like a baby cat, reason like a baby cat; when I became a Cat, I did away with kittenish things.” 1 Cor 13:10-12 (NASB) I suspect she’s fiddled a bit with that verse, but she gets irritable whenever I bring it up. She claims she went to Church but they refused her communion without explanation; they probably just didn’t see her, to give her a blessing (cats don’t need communion.)
We acquired a pair of rescue cats in December (2004); they'd been found in Skagit Valley, cold and starving. Putatively sisters, though probably mother/daughter; in colour kind of a cross between tabby and tortoise shell, what's called "torbie." Throwing all common sense to the wind, we bravely named them Martha and Mary, after the matronal saints of the Chapel of Sts Martha & Mary. Martha's a bit more on the red side than Mary; she's older by about a year, too.
At first, it seemed just fine. Our friend Dwight had given me an assemblage of cat facts to which our furry folks seemed to conform, including their peculiar demands for entry into the bathroom when we choose the said to use.
Of course mostly they were under the bed or on top of the armoire when not in their litter box, and therefore generally unavailable for civilized conversation. They did beat on the bathroom door and howl if left out of that process, which I suppose is conversation of a sort. We weren't sure how to interpret that. Martha seemed more sociable, willing to be picked up on occasion. Mary's a bit of a hooligan. If St Mary sat quietly at Jesus' feet it's because someone told her she'd jolly well better settle down and be quiet or she was going to spend the evening in her room.
But none of this is about any of that. This is about last week. The cats are dug in, they've done the vet thing, we koochy koochy koo and talk about them endlessly without being asked. In spite of being asked not to. You know, revenge for all of the newest grandchild exploits. (Except Davis. He really is exceptional, Sharon.)
Well, see. This is what happened. Cat Mary informed me that it was rude to use the "K" word around or about her. She is not. Repeat, NOT a kitten or a kitty or anything as oppressive and diminishing as all that.
“So," says I, sucker that I am for a talking cat, "what word would you prefer?"
She goes, "Look, it's not rocket science. If a horse gives birth you call the offspring a..."
Me: "A foal? You want me to call you a foal?"
She makes a disgusted face and walks off.
Then comes back again.
"Okay, a pig gives birth you call the offspring..."
Me: "Uh, kitties? Is that what you..."
But she's walked off again.
Then back for another round:
"Okay, enough guessing; you're obviously not um up to this um level of intelevegetable conversion. No!” she says with disdain, “I'm not a foal. I'm a baby cat! Why should that be such a difficult concept? Cat. Baby cat. I'm a baby cat. How easy is that?"
So, okay, I’m thinking. Baby Cat it is. Lady BC. Maybe Lady Bad Cat. Nope. Lady Beautiful Cat? Pffft. (I suspect that, like so many tomboys, she does not yet like her femininity.) So. Baby Cat. Not Mary and certainly not a saint, for Pete's sake.
Then we tried our newly raised consciousnesses to be sensitive with Martha. Well, that turned out sort of. Well. Different. We should have picked up on something when we caught her at the window one day, showing off her new little satin purple panties that she must have gotten mail order, thanks to her Technocat daughter’s help.
In fact, the K word bothers her not at all. Quite the little kitty, she is, she says. Kitty kitty kitty? Definitely! For all it’s worth!
She rolls over, tummy up, and spreads her legs shamelessly, pretends she's never been pregnant, never had a litter, never even... well.
"Moi?" she says, "Little kitty moi? Cute little kitty kitty in her pretty purple panties..."
Oh, Martha! What kind of example is that? She rolls over again, batting her eyes and making pretty little kitty noises.
"Kitty kitty?" Says I, tentatively, not wishing to give offense with the oppressive K word, and pretty ticked that she's obviously been opening some of the daily dose of porno spam in the email.
"But..." she says, smiling and purring and rubbing her cheeks on me, then gazing at me, adoring, hypnotizing... "But... *je suis joli chaton rouge." (Heavy cat accent; I'm sure she's no more French than my French fries.)
"Mmmm?" she says, *"Joli chaton? Kitty kitty. Mmmm? Avec cheveux rouges? Ooo la la! Voyez comment jolie le petite chatte kitty kitty rouge est! Rouge? Joli kitty kitty rouge?"*
So "Kitty Rou'" it is for her, but I'm not buying the idea that being a redhead equates to promiscuity. Anyway she’s not all that red, either; just the telltale patchiness of a cheap dye job. She should have seen my Grandma and my sister, Miriam!
Also, I think Kitty Rou’, like Mehitabel of Archie & Mehitabel* fame just conveniently ‘forgot’ she had kittens and simply reinvented herself as "la coquette parisien." (Not to cast asparagus on Parisian croquettes.)
Thus it is that I am become furiously owned by a politically radical cat named Baby Cat, and husband Jerry is the hot and hunky property of the divine Miss Kitty Rou’ who hopes that he will, well um. She just likes the male species is all.
Fortunately Baby Cat and I like the same games so we spend a lot of time batting little fluffy things around and "discussing" Marx and Engels. Mostly, though, she stays in the closet while I sit on the floor outside.
BC: “Not enough tuna in their diet!” She is, she says, doomed to the same fate and flops over to make her point. (I’m not sure what she believes their fate to have been.)
Animal Farm, Baby Cat says, is stupid because the pigs could never have pulled it off. So she’s pretty dismissive of everything that Orwell wrote.
“Not enough catnip!” she claims. Writing “1984” before 1984 was just evidence of how brain damaged he was. She is, she says, doomed to the same fate and flops over to make her point.
The Babe (as we call her, behind her back) has nightmares about all of this. She starts yowling mournfully at 3:00 am. At that godless hour, I dutifully leap out of bed, trip over my oxygen line, step on the other cat, knock down two stacks of books, land on Jerry, and reach out to strangl… uh comfort the little uh, cat. I tell her she is too young for this political stuff. She says I am guilty of brainwashing and oppression, and then she flops over to make her point.
(Jerry says things not suitable for repetition by a person of the cloth such as myself.)
So, there it is. Distracted, discounted, and disjointed by an unrepentant feline slut and her (probably illegitimate) adolescent political whacko of a daughter, we are utterly incapable of promoting war of any kind.
No. Instead of going about warring and oppressing, we are necessarily stuck under the bed or exhausted or searching for allergy pills or covered with tape itself covered with cat hair (one of those late night TV things) or dabbing ourselves with antiseptic or sweeping up litter box litter or carrying cat poop in a bag for Pete’s sake.
Periodically I email for help, but mostly folks just call Jerry at work and tell him that someone has stepped on my O2 supply again.
About 8 mos later, Mrrphh met me in the hallway and quite solemnly said that her name is actually "Mrrphh", that being a traditional utterance among her tribe. I felt very honored to be entrusted thus with the sacred name and so I bid you, too, to treat it with respect. If you are a good listener you will have heard your cat uttering "Mrrphh" in moments of contentment.