How to approach the tale of my beloved Cuteness?? When I have avoided thinking of her studiously, guiltily for nigh onto three years. There are still tears washing in my spirit for one of the finest cat-panions created by The God and Goddess. She came to be my cat-panion as an also-ran. We were seeking another grey tabby to replace the cat-panion who had fled the terror of a cross-country move.
My then-husband and I relocated from Tempe, AZ. to Corvallis, OR. in May of 1992. In Las vegas we spent the night at a truck stop, and the cat-panion we had at the time (named Dead Kitty, that's a whole 'nother tale) was terrified of trucks and he fled in terror, we couldn't find him and were forced to leave without him.
I was understandably heartbroken and Jim (now my ex) promised me another cat when we were settled. We were still living in a tent at the fairgrounds when the opportunity for a grey tabby kitten appeared. When the human of the Momma Cat brought him over and dropped him off he left the kitten's litter-sister as well. The dainty, black and white runt tugged at my heart-strings as only the sweetest of cats can do.
We kept both kittens and soon were blessed with jobs and a place to live that would allow cats. So in the four of us moved. Jim, myself, The Tom-Tom Cattus, and Mi-Mi Cat. Tom's full name was Major Thomas Heathen Katt, Ret. Airhead 1st. Class. And his fearless, quiet sister was Mi-Mi Heatheness Katt, Esq. Squinging..
Tom grew to be the penultimate Alpha Tom. he held the whole city under his kitty sway, males deferred to him for the females in heat, for he had bested all of them in battle already. His name was changed to King Tomm by the neighbourhood college guys.
Mi-Mi name was changed thanks to a videotape of George Carlin, he was talking about cats and their temperaments, he began to mime petting a cat, replete with feline 'elevator butt' whilst saying, "You're such a cute cat, you're just a cute g**-damned kitty cat." As he was saying his Mi-Mi came in and sat oh so perfectly pretty in the doorway, gilded by the evening sun.
We looked at her an one another, and renamed Mi-Mi, The Cute G**-Damned Kitty-Katt. She was Cuteness for short, and Little Mizz Wide-Glide as she grew older and rounder in later years. Cuteness bore three litters of utterly irresistible kittens in eighteen months, which is when we had her spayed, and got all her shots.
As she matured into a feircely loyal and protective cat-panion, she became a formidable huntress. By the time she was three she had grown bored with rodents and birds, with which she gifted us regularly. She progressed to using her flexibility and intelligence to sucessfully hunt bats.
This tale isn't so much about what she did as a cat, but how she was a cat-panion. She would sit quietly next to my chair as I wrote or crocheted in the winter. We would curl up together on the couch of a rainy evening and bask in the slumberous warmth of the wood stove 'outsert' we had installed in the fireplace of the 100 year old farmhouse we called home.
In the spring, summer, and autumn she would chase the insects I stirred up in my garden as I weeded, dead-headed and basically nurtured my flower and herb, and rose beds. She knew when my husband was due to return and let me know when he did. She would hear his truck rumbling home through the tree-lined streets of historic buildings, well-planned flowers and impressively manicured yards.
At night she would politely curl up on the foot of the bed and purr softly as we fell asleep with the sweet breezes from the open window perfuming the air with grass, and floral scents. In the morning she and I wouyld rise together, and make the coffee, then I would feed her and King Tomm their kibble, water and a small dish of 'people food' for them to share peacably.
Time went by with distressing speed, and when she was three her brother King Tomm passed away from Feline Aids. She and I were heartbroken, and became one another's consolation, when a well-meaning friend brought me a kitten to ease the loss, she was quite indignant.
I explained to her and apologised, and she tolerated the kitten as he grew, as he mellowed into a cat they became 'friends', well as much as they could. Cuteness remained our sweet lady, and settled so comfortably and perfectly into our lives and hearts. In the winter I suffered from pneumonia every year, Cuteness, who was never a lap-cat, would park in my lap, forcing me to rest with rich purrings and gentle insistence.
When my husband became addicted to drugs and grew first distant and forgetful, then neglectful and abusive, she and I grew even closer as I protected her from his wrath and growing violence. She in turn, comforted me when his verbal abuse wore me down to despair and exhaustion of spirit.
As so often happens with severe addiction, my husband lost his job and our home, we wound up living in a 6'X10' camper in the National Forest. Cuteness didn't want to be there any more than I did, but we both stayed for the sake of the other.
If the shame and misery of living in a camper with no bathroom, and ineffectual heat weren't indignity enough, and the worsening abuse and neglect weren't destroying what spirit I had left; the camper was parked right in the middle of Mr. Black Bear's territory. In the evening, when it was Cuteness and I alone in that horrid little box (my ex was off making drugs with his 'girlfriend'), the bear wouuld use the camper as a tackling dummy. He would stand on hind legs next to the camper and rock it on the tyres with his forepaws.
Cuteness was understandably terrified, and clung to me as she shed and hyperventilated. I comforted her as best I could, promising her I wouldn't let the bear hurt her, and that it would get better. I promised her that I would always be there for her, and that I wouldn't let anything hurt her.
A friend couldn't stand to think of us living in the forest and agreed to let us park the camper in her driveway on her farm, which is where we 'celebrated' Christmas. My husband found a job, and I found a home and the assistance to move into the home after the first of the year. As we moved all of our stuff from the barn into the single wide mobile home, Cuteness wandered through the house, eyes alight, saying, "Wow!!" over and over again.
We settled into our new digs and watched the apple tree bloom, and the grass green up. My husband continued to abuse drugs, and eventually lost a second job to them. Back to the camper in our friend's driveway we went. My husband I and were to help around the farm in lieu of paying rent. As he couldn't get and stay clean, he ended up going to rehab over on the Coast. This Christmas it was just Cuteness and I in the camper, we had our lonely little dinner, and curled up to read a book.
Spring came, and still we were in the camper, summer came and we 'upgraded' to a early 70's motor home that had been sitting abandoned in a driveway for years. I srubbed for 3 days to get the stench of mice and fermented 'black waste water' out of the motor home.
Summer came and my husband was gone far more than he was there. he would coast to the end of the driveway, and when he was sure I was asleep he would try to sneak in, so I wouldn't know how late he was with his girlfriend.
Autumn came and I could take no more, the motor home smelled worse than the turkeys or swine barns and carried nothing but bitter memories and associatinos for me. My friend generously agreed to let me sleep in her barn, up in the loft with the stuff that wasn't in use, and the empty canning jars.
I set up a bed, a light, an alarm clock, and my computer. No sooner was there bedding on the bed, than Cuteness ensconced herself on the bed, and in the barn with me. So there we lived, Cuteness and I, two fat middle-aged ladies, fleeing from unhappy times, and deepest hurt.
In the first November we lived in her driveway, my friend and I slaughtered her turkeys the old fashioned way. Cuteness perched on a hay bale and beamed down at me, her feline chest a-swell with obvious pride. I swear she walked every inch of that farm, telling any animal that would listen, "My
human made a kill!! My human made a BIG kill!!"
I was working at the local Farmer's Market on Wednesdays, and one such Wednesday, a fellow went through the market giving away kittens. I staunchly ignored him, telling myself that I didn't want or need another cat. Cuteness and I had one another and that was enough for us.
Eventually he was down to the last one, a fluff of a grey tabby with bright white face, belly and feet. He looked at me across the market and I knew he was supposed to be mine. I walked over to the man and the kitten climbed up my chest and attacked my earrings fiercely and joyously.
I laughed and said, "Yes, beastie-cat, you are supposed to be mine and your name is Syd Vicious." We went home together to the barn; Cuteness took one look at the kitten and hissed as virulwently as she could.
Syd, the kitten fluffed as largely as he could and hissed back, Cuteness looked up at me in delight, as if to say, "Oooo!! You got a good one this time human!!!" The three of us crawled into bed together later that night. Morning came and I awoke to the radio, there were Cuteness and the kitten.
He had grown homesick during the night and Cuteness offered him the comfort only she could. There she was sprawled on her side, with Syd attached to one dry nipple, both of them blissfully asleep. I sat there for a moment, feeling such love and pride fill me that I thought I should surely light the barn like a klieg light.
Winter came, and the three of us would curl up under the pile of blankets and snuggle up for warmth. I would have Cutness curled up by my side with the kitten, who had been re-named Archie Roodlz. There was almsot 2 weeks of below-freezing weather. It was hovering around frweezing during the day and down into the low 20's at night. If it was 22 outside, it would be a whopping 24 in the loft, yet the three of us managed a fragile sort of happiness.
Come spring I saved up money and got Archie neutered and got his shots. He had grown into a glossy, bright-eyed, affectionate cat that was full of life and curiosity about the world outside the loft.
Unfortunately, my friend had asked that I keep both the cats in the barn, preferably in the loft unless I was there with them, so Archie was unable to get out and explore the world or romp.
Summer came and I was struggling to stay sane as I kept failing to find work, I would drop off a resume, do an interview, and then came the background check. I was forced to accept that I was not going to find a job in that town, ever, thanks to my ex's reputation in the area.
Autumn arrived in shades of red, golds and oranges, along with a request from my friend that I move out of her barn. I agreed to, accepting her reasoning for it. I called my mother to move back to Arizona, and she barely managed to scrape the money together for me and some of my stuff.
I spent a month frantically trying to find a home for Cuteness and Archie. Two days before I was to leave, I had no choice but to ask my ex to take them. I couldn't take them to the animal shelter because they had had an ourbreak of feline distmper and had closed down the cattery until they were sure that the outbreak was over.
My ex agreed, reluctantly, to take both cats, understanding that they had become cat-friends, and Archie didn't know the world outside the loft of the barn. He arrived in the late evening to collect the kitties, and it was a battle to get the cats in their carriers.
At last they were in their snug little carriers, and fussing as only frightened cats can do. I gathered up their dishes, food, litter box and kitty litter, as well as some things that smelled of me for some comfort to my 'babies'.
Lastly, I walked out to the car with my ex as he put the carriers in his car, and the last thing I heard before he started the car and left was a heart-broken wail from Cutenss when she realised I wasn't going with them.
I wasn't able to say goodbye then, nor let go of the grief, sorrow and shame that I felt at not being able to keep my promise to Cuteness, nor keep on being in Archie's life.
Now I say,
Farewell O Cuteness
Huntress of Bats,
Loyal and loving lady,
Comfort to a troubled spirit
And greatest of friends.
I regret I could not remain
And I grieve your loss still.
Go Home now Dear One,
Home wher I shall join you
One day, and we shall have
Such a reunion.
Farewell, Dear One,