February 17th 2007 8:45 pm
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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.
*"Pretty kitten? Kitty kitty. Mmmm? With red hair? Oo la la!
See how pretty the small red she-cat kitty kitty is! Red? Pretty kitty kitty red?"
©Don Marquis, 1927 www.donmarquis.com