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Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I have always loved cats--always! Got my first cat when I was eight years old--a black and brown tabby. Thought he belonged to some people who had a lot of cats but found out he didn't. Also found out that he was a he:  My parents and I thought she was a she. Wrong! Named him Wholesapple after the people who had those cats; he was called "Wholzy" forever. He survived three moves and lived to be 18. Was so spoiled by my grandmother [he would go to her house when  I was at school and sleep on her best bed of course!] that she even made a Christmas coat for him and he wore it! When he died [he got run over by a truck as I was living in the city and neighbors found him--devastated me.] I was already married and "catless" until a friend took me to a city far away where someone had kittens to give away and that's when I got Simba.

Simba was an orange tabby, smart and had to be the meanest cat I ever had. She was huge and would stand on the staircase and crack a spit at me. Ever heard a cat do that? Not a sound  you'd want to hear at all! She was huge and the neatest thing she would do was to lick "Coffemate creamer" out of my hand--sometimes! When she was about eight months old, I decided to put her on a leash: She walked with me like a dog would and did people stare or what? I had a huge backyard and lots of clotheslines so one day, I decided to put her long leash on a line. She loved it and would run the length and then back again. One day a big bulls eye tabby [brown black and white] appeared in my yard:  He had huge feet and gorgeous markings. And of course he found his way into the house. Named him Tiger--really Goethe Tiger.. Simba ruled of course as she had been there first and was huge compared to him for he was about six months old or so. But as time went by, I would find both of them sleeping together or fighting or staring at me after some priceless object got broken [cats never fess up to breaking things ever!] They were quite the pair is all I can say. Tragedy struck six years later when my mother told me that it was cruel to keep Simba on a leash and that I should let her run loose. Personally, her walking on a leash or being on one on the clothesline was unique to her. Unfortunately, I took my mom's advice only to find Simba missing. Everyone searched and my then-father in law found her at the base of a tree. A pack of dogs had gotten to her; she lived only minutes after I held her.

She was buried in the backyard and Tiger sat on her grave for three straight days. He was mourning. 

A move to this house I am in now was good for Tiger:  I kept him inside due to what had happened to my other two cats. He had the sweetest disposition--much like "Wholzy" and I entered him in the West Virginia cat show [thinking he might stand a chance] and he won three years in a row as the best cat. Trophies and ribbons didn't impress him one bit! But I was impressed by him for he was the most beautiful bulls eye tabby ever. Tiger shared the house with a huge collie and didn't mind one bit. He lived to be fourteen as an illness took him; the night before though, he came up the steps from the recroom only to see all of us and then retreat back downstairs. When he died, he was buried in the backyard. His trophies and ribbons are tucked away in a big drawer still.

Waited a year for I had to due to the fact that his illness would have been contagious to another cat. And that's when I went to a friend's apartment to see some kittens she had. Partial to black and brown tabbies and there he was--jumping up on the wall! High! Brought him home and named him Jesse James [distantly related to that outlaw and boy did the name fit this cat!] I would put him on my shoulder and go down the hall with him biting me all the way; my arms were covered in scratches forever. Not only did he do that to me but attacked a kid who came to my house--following this kid across the street and was hanging onto him by all fours! I had to pry him off of the kid and pray that he was all right. He was but shook up and never came back into my yard even as a teenager! Jesse bit my best friend whom I had known since I was three; she had been here many times but one time when here, he circled around her legs and bit through her sweat pants! She screamed, I saw blood and we both ran into my bathroom shutting the door on Jesse who sat on the other side for an eternity. Many other people received the wrath of Jesse and I honestly didn't know what to do. The only  thing that calmed him down was to speak FRENCH to him and although I do know that language, it became a big problem!  And it sounded nuts to anyone who was here. Jesse shared this house with two big dogs and anytime he got a chance, he would smack them with his paws. An illness took him too and once again, he was buried in the backyard along with Tiger. And  I swore I'd never get another cat--my heart couldn't take losing one again.

Catless for a year till my then-husband and I went looking for a cat in the spring. Found nothing that I liked until we went into a pet shop and there he was--a black and brown tabby and all of eight weeks old. Love at first sight, bought him and brought him here. Wanted to name him Spencer after a tv show "Spencer For Hire" but my dog Prince went haywire upon seeing this kitten. I kept saying "It's a baby Jesse!" over and over again. And so this cat was named Chessie Spencer: He really did look like the C&O cat "Chessie." My other big dog, Goldie, seemed oblivious to Chessie at first but they became good friends; Prince was still stand-offish. Chessie was no doubt the smartest cat I ever owned: He understood what you said to him as most cats do but he was so loving and so huge! [When he was little, I had him declawed--just his front claws; he came  out of the vet's office being carried by a worker and he had lime green casts on both front feet! But he healed fine and thought he still had those front claws.] At one point, he weighed over 22 pounds. This cat actually let me put hats on him and he loved to pose; he was always camera ready. Always! He slept with me and talked  in the cat language. Chessie lived to be fifteen and I knew almost a year and a half ago that he was dying: Cats always retreat and give up. I hand fed him but to no avail at all. Heartbroken not only for him but also for me. Both Goldie and Prince had died and now I only had him as well as my dog I have now, Shiloh. Kept putting off the inevitable but the day did come that I mustered up my courage and set him in a box to go to the vet for the last time. He didn't seem to realize where he was as I drove but I kept looking at him and the tears wouldn't stop. I sat there with him not wanting to have him put to sleep and yet there was no choice--he was dying. The vet was so gentle with him and it was the first time I ever stayed with a cat to be put to sleep. Numbness set in and I had to make a decision:  I decided to have him cremated. Picked up his ashes in a small white cylindrical container and he "sits" in his usual place on the kitchen table. Morbid? Not to me. That container has a C&O playing card glued onto it--of Chessie.

I didn't mention this but about six months or so before Chessie died, I had been outside and was getting in my car when I heard cats howling and a dog barking. Couldn't see anything and had to leave for an appointment. Upon arrival back here, I found a calico cat in my yard with her kitten. The cat was sort of tame but the kitten was wild. After talking to a neighbor, I found out that some lowlife had thrown this cat, kitten and a dog over the hill out of his truck! Made me sick. But no way was I bringing in a cat and a kitten with Chessie in here. And so I fed both the mom and kitten for a long time till winter set in. No one would take either one of them.

One day the mom cat took off and was gone for four days--no wonder as my yard was full of male cats hanging around! The baby was in hysterics and feral; all I could do was to put cat food out and hope it ate it.
Four days later, the mom returned and I named her "Maysie" after the Dr. Seuss character in the book "Horton Hatches An Egg."  That character was a big bird who wanted to go to the beach and coerced Horton into sitting on the egg for months! Seemed fitting for this cat. Named the baby "Winky:" Have no idea why--just came to me. Maysie was smart enough to get under a chair that had a blanket placed over it by me; the baby was under a small table but freezing. Had to take a stick and place a blanket over the table or else that baby would run! A miracle happened as my newspaper carrier felt sorry for the kitten and took it! I realized that Winky was gone; saw him early the next morning and he told he that he had grabbed her and put her in a cat carrier! One problem solved.

Got colder and I got gutsy. Went out and grabbed Maysie and brought her inside knowing that Chessie would probably have a cow--but he didn't. Maysie did! She ran for the storm door and threw herself onto it like a cartoon character! Several more attempts were made and I actually got Maysie inside and calmed down.. She sat in a little wagon I had put out for Christmas and actually liked being in it and covered up. But she was an outside cat [or so she thought!] and every night I let her out. One day when I brought her in bundled up in my arms, I took her over to Chessie:  He was piled up on a big cushion and not feeling well by then but he did lick Maysie on the head as if to say "It's all right with me."

And so after Chessie's death, I became the owner of a calico female cat. Never had a calico in my life; had her fixed and the vet said, "Is this cat wild?" "Course she is" I replied. "That's why we put disposable stitches in her" he stated and off we went--me grateful and Maysie in a stupor. Found out then that she was about two. Had no idea. Maysie has now been with me a year and a half and she is the most grateful cat ever. 
She has no desire to go outside period. Loving yet somewhat stand-offish but always ready to eat or be petted.  Knows she has it made for cats are not dumb and knows how to smack my dog when the dog has done nothing but get into her territory! And yes, Maysie has a middle name: Apple. Heck if Gwyneth Paltrow could name her child that I could certainly use it for a cat's middle name and I did. Maysie is the only cat I have had that was abused and traumatized. I am just so thankful that she wandered into my yard that day and should the person who threw her away [along with her kitten and a dog] be reading this, shame on you! But I beat you at your game for I got rewarded with a wonderful cat--Maysie Apple.

Sherry Hill

There were two other cats in my life: Paddington, a Himalayan that my then-husband and I got at an animal rescue place at the beach. Gray, beautiful and petrified of Chessie. He didn't live long at all. And there was also Babette Noel--a black cat I got at the animal shelter; she and Chessie loved each other but Babette got out of control and gratefully a friend took her.

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