“What do you think I should write about this week, Papi?” I ponder aloud, smoothing the tiny chihuahua’s long, silvery-white hair into a halo that frames his pert, perky little face.
Exactly expected, the dog’s glossy brown eyes slowly blink, tail barely twitches, and his pink tongue tip protrudes as he promptly falls asleep.
“Some help you are,” I laughingly grumble. “Good thing you’re such a ferocious watchdog.”
Papi snorts and snores.
In search of my curiously evasive muse, the house temporarily noise-free due to the absence of daughter, Amanda, and grandchild, Lexie, it suddenly dawns on me that this is a magical moment. After a day of chasing falling leaves and dodging intermittent rain drops, the autumn chill, cracking fireplace and full bellies have drawn the entire permanent feline family into a jumble of sleep-sodden fur, fuzz and fluff. Entirely undisturbed, I have the once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to carefully observe each cat individually and contemplate the special place he or she holds in my heart. This precise precious moment will never happen again. Ever.
Due to the omnipresent symptoms of, and perpetual treatment for, chronic feline rhinitis, Daizee, genetically growth-impaired and unremarkable in tabby marking, is ordinarily the lightest sleeper of the Garey Gang. Diminutive, delicate and dainty, she silently delights in locking her golden eyes onto my hazel orbs, quizically gazing unflinchingly until I’m almost unnerved or otherwise distracted. She is the most emotionally needy of the family, yet the most assertive. When in the mood for attention, she DEMANDS it with sharp love nips, insistent lap marching and skull-jarring head bumps. But when Daizee wants to be alone, she stealthily finds a hidey-hole no human or other family member has ever found. She also is a very,very quiet cat, rarely uttering more than a tiny trill now and again. At this very moment, dozing among some stuffed toys, Daizee reflects the quiet side of my nature.
As always, I regard Molly with tremendous respect and admiration. Formerly feral, she overcame horrific abuse and horrendous living conditions before tolerating and eventually trusting my amateurish efforts to rescue her from the only life she knew. Still haunted by the call of the wild, she frequently spends hours staring out a window, uttering muted growls at scampering squirrels and free-roaming dogs, swatting impatiently if another cat ventures onto her perch. Last to feed at mealtime, Molly considers it her responsibility to make sure that every litter box deposit, hers and those of the others, is properly covered and loudly, persistently, announces when she deems a complete change is necessary. Although incapable of reproduction, Molly remains the penultimate Earth Mother, taking immediate charge of any and all infants fostered or adopted throughout the year; should a lactating female be present, Molly patiently absents herself while the babies feed, but once the little ones are sated, she climbs back into the nursery to bathe and nurture them. Even as I write, she slumbers encircling her own foster family and the connection of our heartstrings is abundantly evident.
Silly, sassy, spectacular, fabulous and fun are adjectives that leap immediately to mind when my eyes rest on glorious Gene Wilder, currently sleeping snugly against my hip. No one, not even the human entertainer of that name, can make me smile as quickly and happily as my golden boy. He sings, dances, is a one-cat band, with an affinity for showmanship and public performance. Gene Wilder is outgoing and personable, completely at ease with all creatures of every species, not a malevolent or aggressive cell in his genetic makeup. Infinitely cooperative, Gene Wilder allows Lexie to dress him in doll clothing and patiently permits her to scamper about with him draped over her shoulders in lieu of a fluffy, orange boa. After drooping atop the television to watch – upside down – an episode or two of Sesame Street, he and Lexie frequently share a cup of yogurt followed by a quick, adult-supervised bubble bath. And while others of his kind bring home an occasional rodent or large insect as a trophy or token of affection, Gene Wilder delivers a random leaf or little flower that I like to pretend he’s picked as a gift just for me. He is the most happy-go-lucky cat I’ve ever known, playful, good-natured, humorous and demonstrative. Gene Wild loves everyone LOUDLY, insistently, obviously content with his notion of a purr-fect life; for me, he personifies joy, pure and simple.
Siblings Bela and Smudge are inseparable, the former solid black, the latter a classic tuxedo kitty. The duo has reached “tween-age” in size, appetite and temperament. Prone to mad, seemingly pointless dashes throughout the house, they wrestle over anything deemed play-worthy, chase one another for hours on end, slam chest-to chest in mid-air, then collapse into a heap wherever they happen to land. Neither enjoys solitude; when one sets to caterwauling, both howl in tandem. If an empty cardboard box echoes a siren call, each burrows inside with identical curiosity. Even the most untrained ear can easily recognize that the two have developed an uncanny language easily understood by each other. “Meow, meow meow?” muses Smudge. “Meow, mew mew mew!” Bela immediately replies. “Rummmmble,” the two agree, glancing my way to ensure that human ears concur. Even when on the prowl for some cat canoodling, Bela and Smudge nudge their way onto my lap, their combined weight and size equal to one full-grown feline, but with the added benefit of twice the mews, kneading paws, kitten kisses and tummies to tickle, doubling the pleasure, tripling the fun for all three of us.
Across my slippered feet, last but certainly not least, lays Lord Puggington McWhiskers, aka Puggy. Fewer than fifteen weeks old, the toddler thinks himself lion-esque, approaching every aspect of his world with boundless energy and wonder. Exquisite dark lines define his tabby heritage and huge, green-tinged eyes pugnaciously marvel over every new discovery he encounters, be it a snippet of fresh catnip, a katydid or the movement of the cursor on my computer screen. Undaunted by laughter, music, voices or human child-produced mayhem, Puggy is conversely horrified by thunder and, mewing fearfully, scrambles toward the closest immediate comfort he can find. In any situation, he is definitely not a loner, yet completely indiscriminate in selecting his companion du jour; no matter the size, shape, texture, plane of existence or manufacturer, if it can be nuzzled and cuddled against, Puggy is happy. Fully alert, wound into a puff no larger than Lexie’s little hand or sprawled on his back, limbs fully stretched and completely given over to sleep’s oblivion, Puggy is the perpetual provider of purrs, nose nips and kitty cuddling, a child filled with innocence and curiosity, much like the little girl inside of me who awakens each morning wondering what new adventure the day will bring.
Not to be ignored are the eight foster kittens and a single lactating female currently nourishing the entire kindle until all are neutered and placed in their forever homes. With respect for their already arranged future families, I haven’t named the little ones and simply refer to each as Baby 1, Baby 2 and so on based on its color or marking. But I also couldn’t resist a bit of topical humor when it came to naming the female – with a brood that size for which to care, what else could I call her but Octo-Mom? These and the countless others who have blessed – and will continue to bless – our home represent my indefatigable hope for the future and belief in the overall goodness, no, GREATNESS of life.
Uh oh. I just heard a car door slam, followed by a second and then the chatter of baby banter. It seems as though the other two-thirds of the Garey Girls have returned home.
Papi springs into watchdog mode, barking furiously before recognizing the interlopers as his women.The cats yawn, stretch luxuriously, rested and ready for their normal nocturnal shenanigans. It pleases me to see my girls, anticipating a detailed account of their evening adventure. As Mom/Nana duty beckons and mews resume, my literary muse calls it a day. And contentedly complete, I conclude that the magic of life in the Garey household, no matter its shape, form or specie, will never come to an end.
Note from Janet, 11.12.09 – Please, beloved and PURR-fect friends, feel free to tell us how your own cat(s) serve as your personal mews…uh, muse. We really enjoy hearing every de-”tail”, making each and every one of you an official extended member of the Kitten Smitten Garey Gang. And if your remarks go beyond the 1500 characters the comment box allows, continue on to the next one. Thanks!