On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 2, 2021:

Kitty has a collection of toys, most of which remain stashed in a lower section of her “condo” where I put them to avoid sucking them up in the vacuum cleaner. Occasionally, she’ll find a stray jingle ball and play a game of feline soccer, but these bursts of activity are short-lived and usually followed by a long nap. The one exception is her elephant. It is a three-inch square pillow made of yellow felt with two side flaps, a two-inch cord, and a small stuffed tube representing ears, a tail, and a trunk respectively.

The elephant received a cool reception when he first arrived on the scene several Christmases ago. The leopard-spotted fish was the reigning favorite at the time, but when it went missing under a piece of furniture or behind an appliance, the elephant took its place. Fame is fleeting, though, and when a new blue lamé fish appeared, the elephant was pushed aside.

The new fish was attached to a two-foot stick by an elastic cord, and Kitty sometimes enjoyed chasing it around when David or I bounced it in front of her. However, the #1 game was walking back and forth through the house with the fish in her mouth and the stick trailing along behind, especially through the kitchen. At least we knew she was coming when we heard the stick dragging across the ceramic tile. The stick also made it harder for the fish to hide under or behind things, but apparently it jumped off the bed into the crevice between the footboard and the cedar chest once too often. Disgrace followed, and the elephant reappeared.

At first, it appeared occasionally when Kitty walked through the house with it in her mouth. Then, I’d find it lying on the floor in the bedroom or living room – always on the carpet. I guess Kitty didn’t want it to get cold. Then she began playing games with it. She’d roll onto her back and juggle it around with her feet, or she’d pitch it into the air, bat it across the room, retrieve it, and start over. Her games are video worthy but usually too short in duration for me to get the camera turned on and focused.

Kitty isn’t normally very vocal except for an occasional “chirp” to let me know she wants her nightly snacks or some milk. But she has invented another game with the elephant that involves some quiet fussing. She takes him up onto the foot of our bed where she passes him from paw to paw and eventually scoots him off the end of the bed, sometimes on top of the out-of-favor blue fish. She stares down at him and gives him a good talking to until she either decides to retrieve him and begin again or tires of the game and retires to her condo for a nap. Once when we had just returned from a week-long trip to Louisiana she brought the elephant to the door of the bathroom where I was getting ready to go to the gym. She stood there for a little while, chewing on it and wallowing it around with her paws, all the while producing little kittenish sounds that I interpreted as a diatribe about what a bad pet mama I was for leaving her alone for seven days.

She’s not much on cat/human interplay with her toys, but she likes to share her elephant with David in a ritualistic way. At night, after she has eaten her snacks and while we’re still reading in bed, she’ll jump up on David’s side. We always know when she’s carrying the elephant because she chirps as she leaps up. She drops the elephant beside David, or sometimes on him, and stands there waiting to be petted and told what a good Kitty she is. She never brings it to me, but sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I find it beside me or at the foot of the bed on my side.

Sometimes she brings the elephant to David during the day. As she carries it from the bedroom to the living room, she announces her intentions with her special chirps. She drops it at his feet and either jumps onto the sofa to be petted or waits on the floor for him to come to her. One day last week he was outside mowing when she brought the elephant to him. She was a few feet from the sofa when she realized he wasn’t there. She stopped in her tracks, staring at the empty spot where he usually sits. I could almost see the furrows on her furry little forehead as she looked from sofa to door and back again several times. She finally dropped the elephant in disgust and jumped up on the end table by the window to watch for his return.

Kitty doesn’t do the off-the-wall crazy things she did when she was a kitten, but she is still a quirky little feline. She is a lot of company to us, and she occasionally provides enough material for a column or two.



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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