Is There a Cat in Your Past You Still Tell Stories About?


There is always that one cat, isn’t there? The cat whose personality is so big and whose behavior is so memorable that people tell stories about them long after they’ve left this Earth. For our family, that cat is Annabelle.

Annabelle adopted our family when I was in high school, over the strenuous and frequent protests of my stepfather who, at every opportunity, let everyone know he did not like "damn cats." Annabelle was fine with this because, as it turns out, she did not like damn stepfathers.

In fact, Annabelle had a well-defined hierarchy when it came to the people and things in her life: my sister and I at the top and my stepdad at the very bottom, somewhere between vet visits and baths.

Because she was an indoor/outdoor cat, my family frequently left the patio door open to allow her easy entry and exit during nice weather. One spring night after I left for college and while my sister was at a high school function, Annabelle came in from outside. As usual, she ignored my mother and stepfather, making a beeline for my sister’s room which was directly off the living room.

A few seconds later, Annabelle abruptly re-emerged and stared intently at my parents. When neither of them moved, she began to meow.

Now, this was unusual, as Annabelle was a cat of few words. Both my parents thought it a little odd, but ignored her and continued watching television.

Unsatisfied with this response, Annabelle made her way to my mother and meowed even more loudly. Once again, she was ignored.

Undeterred, Annabelle strode purposefully to my stepfather, planted herself squarely in front of him, and meowed yet again with unmistakable urgency and irritation. You have to understand how extraordinary this was. Annabelle never chose to be in the same room with my stepfather, and certainly never stooped to address him directly. This got their attention. Perplexed, my stepfather looked at my mother. "What the HELL has gotten into that damn cat?"

About this time, something caught his eye. Turning, he was stunned to see, waddling out of my sister’s room, a possum.

Okay, let me pause the action just for a moment. What I always find most remarkable about this story is that, upon encountering a wild animal in "her" room, Annabelle didn’t take refuge in another room. She didn’t escape outside. No. Instead, she made the conscious decision to approach my parents, knowing they were the only ones who could take care of the intruder. She told them, as plainly as she could, "Excuse me. There is a very large, very hairy, very UGLY beast in my room. And I demand you do something about it!"

Was it her fault if they didn’t speak fluent cat?

Anyway, from what I’ve been told, all hell broke loose. My stepfather leaped from his recliner and pulled on his cowboy boots after determining that his typical TV-watching apparel of tighty-whities and an undershirt would be insufficient for confronting a wild animal. Moving just as quickly, my mother sprinted to the kitchen and tossed him a broom, which he wielded above his head like a hatchet. Confronted by this alarming spectacle, the possum did the only logical thing a possum could do…it ran upstairs.

My parents — once they recovered from the surprise of finding that the possum did not actually, you know, play possum — followed quickly behind.

About the time they reached the top of the stairs, they saw the possum disappear into my brother’s room. My brother, who was about 9 at the time, was sound asleep. Creeping into the room, my parents watched in horror as the possum clambered onto the bed and tight-roped its way along the headboard, its tail trailing across my brother’s face. They stood frozen, terrified to wake my brother who, in turn, might startle the animal into some sort of frenzied possum-mauling. Once on the other end of the headboard, the possum ran down the length of the bed, jumped to the floor, and out the bedroom door with my parents again in hot pursuit.

Finally, with some effort — and no shortage of cursing — the possum was herded back outside, much to my parents’ and the possum’s relief.

And where was Annabelle during this melee? Stretched out happily on my sister’s bed, satisfied that she had done her part and not the least bit concerned about the possum rodeo taking place in the rest of the house.

From that day on, I think my stepfather developed a kind of grudging respect for the "damn cat," although he would never admit it. I can assure you, however, that the feeling was not mutual. Annabelle never did care much for "damn stepfathers" as long as she lived.

Your turn: Who’s the cat you or your family can’t stop talking about? Tell us in the comments.

About the Author: Amber Carlton is owned by two cats and two dogs (all rescues), and is affectionately (?) known as the crazy pet lady amongst her friends and family. She and her husband (the crazy pet man) live in colorful Colorado where they enjoy hiking, biking and camping. Amber owns Comma Hound Copywriting and also acts as typist and assistant for Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She encourages other crazy pet people to connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

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