Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Nature teaches beasts to know their friends" --Corialanus

My older brother sent me this photo of the cat we had when we were teens—“Puddy.” As in “I tought I saw a puddytat.

Puddy was the first real pet we ever had….

My folks weren’t really animal people. Oh, we’d tried the goldfish thing: each of us would get a turn to have the bowl of fish in our room for a week. By the time they got to me, they’d ALWAYS die. Which, of course, was totally my fault according to my brothers [my girl germs]; we didn’t realize goldfish have a life span of about 20 minutes….

We briefly had a bird. My dad took care of this elderly lady in West Philly; when she finally had to go to a nursing home, he brought home her pet parakeet for us. Unfortunately, each of us thought the others were feeding the poor thing—we came down one morning and the birdie was belly up on the bottom of the cage.

BUT—we gave that thing the best damned funeral EVER! 21-GUN SALUTE AND ALL.

Okay, so flash forward to our late teen years… One Sunday evening my mom walks in the house with this little furball in her purse—it was Puddy. Our cousin’s cat had given birth to a litter of six and Puddy had taken a shine to my mom [curling up on her lap and purring like mad]. When she heard that they’d probably be destroyed if homes couldn’t be found for them, she brought the kitten home. We were shocked—

a) Mom was not usually a softie like that


b) like I said, my folks were not pet people.

Puddy went with me when I got married, but eventually went on to that great cat heaven in the sky.

Now, my husband’s family were all dog people—everyone had dogs. I had A LOT of adjusting to do—I had always been kind of afraid of dogs. But these animals changed my mind. There was his grandparent’s dachshund Greta, who knew I was pregnant before I did. There was Maude—a senior citizen German Shepard who protected our daughter’s crib when she was an infant. There was King—a stray husky that my husband’s uncle found—he liked to follow my son around in his baby walker. And, finally, Ginger. She was a mix of Shelty [miniature collie] and terrier that my mother-in-law had bought for my husband’s niece and nephew, whom she was raising. But the kids preferred the larger dogs and Ginger had taken an instant liking to my husband, so she came with us. She was about 9 months old and our son was 6 months old—they grew up together. We were all devastated when we had to put her to sleep—she was the sweetest dog in the world.

But about 4 years before Ginger left us, my daughter started begging for a kitten—and would NOT relent. So, we adopted one from a litter that a friend’s cat had just given birth to. I told my daughter that it was all contingent on whether Ginger was okay with it or not, since she’d been there first. Well Ging was totally cool with it—it was the palm-sized kitten who went all crazy. Her back went up, her tail puffed out and she started hissing and spitting. It took 3 days to get her to be in the same room with the dog without freaking out, but they eventually became fast friends.

The funny thing was how the cat got her name: my son and daughter could not agree on what to call her, so they kept saying “The kitty this…” and “the kitty that…”—and she started answering to “Kitty.” A few months ago we were reminiscing about her and my son actually said “Whoever gave her such a stupid name?” Hello!

Now my daughter has brother and sister long-haired white Persians—she’s spitting out fur at her place. The boy cat [pictured at left] sucks at caring for his coat, so she tends to get him shaved down on a regular basis. I lost the photo she sent me of his most recent clip—it was hilarious, he looked like a weird shrunken lion…..

I can’t have a pet in my apartment, so I guess I’ll have to settle for a virtual one….


  1. It is amazing how our pets shape our lives! Great stories and pics

  2. I had a persian that my father gave me one year for a christmas present. the cat had spent most of the four months of his life in a kennel with his turn on the patio once a day. The cat came to me and I opened the door and booted him out. took him awhile to remember what being a cat was all about but he did. His fur would get so matted and I didn't have a clue about brushing him, so he got clipped every year in the spring. Fur all matted. Used embroidery scissors so I could get under the mats. that's just what he looked like...a shrunken lion. He was always so happy to get the tightly matted fur off. Not to mention being furless during our hot summers.

  3. It's amazing how we always remember the pets we had. I'm allergic to all things furry, so no pets for my poor kids unless they want fish. We live in military housing, so we're not allowed turtles or anything like that. My mother had a penchant for cats when I was growing up. It started as one kitten when I was in 7th grade, and she was up to 13 I think when I left for college. It's no wonder I was always sick. Of course no one thought allergies back then.