February 5, 1999 (Ira Pilgrim)


"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,

You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Edward Lear(1812-1888)

Lady is a Manx cat that my wife and I have had for about 14 years. We acquired her and her brother Fritz as kittens. Fritz died last year, but Lady is still going strong.She is grey and white with a bit of orange. I think of her as a cat-colored cat. If she stands still in the woods, she is very hard to see.

I named her "Lady" because I thought that she had all of the attributes that that name connotes; she is beautiful, graceful, loving, independent and devious.

During the day, she is a domestic animal, with everything that that implies; but at night she is wild. We've always put her brother and her out when we went to bed, and let them in in the morning. It is not unusual for us to find the entrails and tail of a rodent on the front porch in the morning. Their prey included mice, squirrels(ground and flying), chipmunks, and an occasional bird. Leaving them out at night insured that small animals that might be a nuisance would be killed, and that insect eating lizards are left alone.

Unlike her late brother, lady is a connoisseur of fine singing. When I sing, or even hum, she comes and sits on me if possible, or sits next to me and purrs. Other singers don't move her. She does the same thing when I play my own CD. In short, she recognizes my singing voice. I suspect that, in her own way, she considers me to be her mother.

My wife and I usually watch the TV news after dinner. Lady curls up on one of our laps and purrs herself to sleep. I assume that that means cat happiness.

I usually take a two mile walk in the morning and lady usually accompanies me. She does not, as a dog might, trot at my heels. She may run ahead or lag behind. Sometimes, if she finds something interesting, she will lag far enough behind so that I encounter her again on my way back. If she thinks that I am lost, she has a special, very loud "where the heck are you" cry. I respond by singing and she joins me again.

Anyone who says that you can't train a cat doesn't know what he is talking about. Our cat knows that she is allowed on chairs or the bed, and that she is not allowed on the tables or kitchen counters. She can't claw the furniture, but she can claw trees.

Since her brother died, she has settled into an evening routine. When it is time for her to go out, my wife or I tell her that it is time to go, and she goes downstairs to her food dish where she tanks up on canned cat food. We have both dry and canned cat food always available. She eats enough so that she loses weight when the weather warms up and puts on a few pounds when it starts to get cold. Lady stays outside even in below freezing weather and it doesn't seem to bother her. She usually sleeps in a box above the wood bin outside the door. Some mornings she stays in her box with her head dangling over the edge, looking like a hung-over drunk. A few encouraging words and she climbs down from her perch and enters the house as if she owns it; and she does.

She is very affectionate with both my wife and me and is usually shy of strangers. Her brother would go to anyone who would pet him.

During the summer, she sometimes disappears for up to three days. We have no idea where she goes. When she returns, she acts as if she had been home all of that time.

She and I are getting a bit long in the tooth. Unlike me, she has lost little of her agility. We comfort each other in our mutual old age.

As Golde says in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," "If that's not love, what is?"

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