Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cats: The Saga (not the musical)

I married in 1974, one day after graduation from college. I know this doesn't sound like the beginning of any cat story, but bear with me. I married a dog person. This is not to say that I don't like dogs, I do, in fact I am an "animal of any type" person. (I don't count snakes, spiders, scorpions or the Texas cockroach as animals and there are many wild animals I would "admire from afar". Although the Texas cockroach is large enough to saddle, bridle and ride.) But when you are dirt poor, both pursuing graduate degrees and have to live in bare minimum apartment housing with hand-me-down donated furniture and cars...there is just no place for a dog.

Then after a year of med school, marriage and into apartment #3, I found him. He was there in a little cage at one of those tacky mall pet stores in North Dallas, all alone. The sign said he was $10 and that he had no papers. He looked Siamese to me and when he stuck his little paw through the cage and did the little "mew", I was hooked. Ten dollars was a big deal but I forked it over and "Shamroc" came home. He turned out to be as pure a Siamese cat as I ever had. He thrived and became my "child". The GPP tolerated him and very slowly grew to like him.

Shamroc loved jerky treat, the type you feed dogs. All you ever had to do was say "jerky treat" and he would come running from wherever he was hiding. Pat your hands on your shoulders and he would jump up into your arms. He never hesitated or seem to wonder if you would catch him, he always had that confidence. He was the best traveler I had. We lived in Texas and would make the long trek to Roanoke, Virginia at Christmas time. Shamroc had a pillow in the front seat. He sat quietly for about fifteen minutes and then would curl up and go to sleep. When we stopped to eat, he would eat and drink a little and use his portable box and then curl back up and sleep. No loud crying. No hysterics. There was only one thing or creature he was afraid of. That would be Bozo.

Bozo was a gerbil. We actually had Bozo before Shamroc. He lived in a big glass aquarium with a running wheel, a little play house, a water dispenser and food bowl. He loved his cedar shavings and the bedding material he could shred into his nest. He loved sunflower seeds and as a treat, Fruit Loops. At Christmas we would give him a little branch of the Christmas tree for his own and hang Fruit loops on the short needles. Then we watched as he took and ate all the ornaments. When these were finished off, he chipped up the little branch and incorporated it with the bedding fluff in his nest. (for that outdoor smell)

Shamroc was very curious about Bozo, maybe he thought he was his next meal. We kept a sturdy wooden lid with square holes, a kind of lattice pattern, on top of the aquarium. Shamroc could get a paw down through the hole but nothing more. Perhaps it was because Shamroc once reached his paw tentatively into Bozo's home and Bozo bit his paw pad, that he became afraid of this little creature. I don't know, but he was very afraid.

Bozo became the proud owner of a clear round exercise ball. Put the gerbil in the ball, close the lid and let them out on the floor, wide open spaces, places to see and explore. Bozo quickly became adept at running one direction or another inside the ball to make it move. He could go down the hall, into the different bedrooms, kitchen, wherever he wanted. With this new mode of transportation and the freedom it afforded, Bozo set out to learn about his world. He was most curious about Shamroc, probably as curious as Shamroc had once been about him. Unfortunately, the paw pad biting incident had rid the cat of any desire to know or be in close proximity to this gerbil. He was, however, mystified by the ball. How could it move on its own? What was that fuzzy brown thing inside? Bozo sees Shamroc, his little legs start churning fast and the ball moves straight for the cat. Shamroc sits quietly, then as if he recognizes the gerbil and that Bozo is coming straight for him in the ball, he jumps two feet off the floor and starts running away. Down the hall, to the bedroom, through the bath and back to the hall, hotly pursued by a gerbil in a clear ball.

Shamroc, the Brave, chased by a "mouse", how denigrating.
(saga to continue later)

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