...the Journal

Refrigerator Door

I think this probably speaks for itself.

Here's a virtual cat for you to play with.

Australian Cats
In keeping with all the references to Australia around here, I felt the need to post the web site about Australian cats.

Precious, the Cat...
quotes you unusual cat facts, e.g., in ancient Egypt, killing a cat was a crime punishable by death. (The Egyptians never met our cats)

I r a theatre critic

OK...so it's a new "career", but if you're interested in reading my reviews, go here


Take Me Home
by John Denver
w/Arthur Tobler

When Peggy was here, we listened to a lot of John Denver music (which I don't think Steve has forgiven me for). I was so intrigued by so many of his lyrics that I wanted to read the story behind them, so borrowed the book from her.


House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus III

Lynn left this book for me; I'd just seen a discussion on Oprah about it and was anxious to read it.

That's it for today!


30 January 2001

Linda Jean is a Feline-American acqaintance of mine. I stop short of saying she’s a friend. Her person and I are friends, but Linda Jean and I kind of have this healthy respect for one another. She lets me visit her person and I try to stay out of her space. Occasionally she will tell me hello, if the spirit moves her, but never if her person is around. If her person is out of town, Linda Jean might even deign to indicate that she would allow me to pat her head and rub her back. But those moments are rare. If I have her treat can in my hand, she will pretend to like me for as long as it takes to be rewarded with some kitty candy, but she and I both know that she’s faking it.

I visited Hattie’s person recently too. Hattie doesn’t even pretend to be interested in me. She’s eager for me to leave and let her and her person go back to their menage deux. She will, however, make an exception if I have something to eat. Hattie has a voracious appetite and she makes the somewhat zoftig Linda Jean look positively svelt in comparison.

People tell me my life is incomplete because it does not have a cat in it. Hattie’s person in particular waxes eloquent on the joys of cat ownership and wouldn’t I love to have a kitten to bring joy to my twilight years.

Well, yes, kittens do bring joy. Their antics are very cute to watch and many smiles are evoked in the presence of a kitten and a piece of string--or just about anything, in fact. The down side of kitten worship is that kittens grow into cats and while my experience with kittens has been, for the most part, positive, my life with cats has not always been as pleasant.

There was a cat in my youth, but it ran away when I was so young, I barely remember it. My first real solid experience with cats, as an adult, was Yom, a Siamese. I lived with Yom’s people for awhile. I was working as a secretary at the University of California and sharing a room with Yom’s people’s 6 month old baby. (Yom always thought about sucking the baby’s breath, but never actually did it.) Each morning I would be awakened by the sound of Yom’s claws scratching the inside of the bedroom door, as he would reach through the space between the floor and the door. I always wondered if he thought he could reach the doorknob if he just stretched high enough.

I would get dressed for work, put on stockings and heels, walk out the bedroom door and there would be Yom lurking. He loved the sound of those nylons rubbing together. Out would come a well aimed paw, with claws gleaming, and slash would go the nylons. Many’s the morning Yom’s people woke up to the sound my yelling at the cat.

Yom gave me a dozen pair of nylons for Christmas that year.

After we moved here to Davis, we decided to get a kitten, and we did. A grey ball of fluff that we named Spock (we could tell he was a Vulcan because he had pointed ears). Spock was truly a noble cat and I loved him. He had an inverted white question mark on his nose and he was a lovely lap cat who was with us for many years. He was such a noble cat that when it came his time to go, he didn’t bother us with the painful decisions that one sometimes has to make with pets. He went off on his own and died quietly. It was all over when we found his body.

Sparky was a delightful kitten who was given to us by a friend. Full of fun and mischief and when Caico from Brasil stayed with us for six months, they became inseparable. Unfortunately Sparky had a sad end--in more ways than one. She apparently fell asleep on a motor somewhere and when the motor started, it tore her tail up pretty badly. The vet opted not to amputate but to see what happened with the tail. Unbeknownst to us, the whole outside of the tail had become a giant scab and one day I backed up suddenly, stepped on the tail, Sparky yeowled and ran in one direction and her tail stayed on the floor behind her.

She never trusted me after that. Funny thing.

But then came Saavik, another Vulcan cat. Saavik was the spawn of the devil. Though she was grey, she had Siamese roots and her constant yeowling was shades of Yom. She was never interested in cuddling...at least never interested in cuddling with me. We growled and glared at each other throughout most of her life.

But in spite of that, I agreed to let her have a litter of kittens. The kids uttered those infamous words "We’ll find homes for them, Mom." Yeah. Right.

So she had four kittens, who were hissing and spitting at us from the day of their birth. I shoulda taken that as an omen. The kids, of course, did not find homes, but I managed to find homes for two of them. When no home was forthcoming for #3 and #4, we decided to keep them. #3 was the best of the lot, but as an adolescent, he got hit by a car. As I held him, I felt his heart stop beating under my fingertips. It was very sad.

We named #4 "Gumby." We never intended it to be her permanent name. We named the kittens after t.s. elliot cats and wanted to name her Jennyanydots, because of her calico coloring. But another friend also had a cat with a litter of kittens and they got the "Cats" names first and already had a Jennyanydots, so this one became Gumby. (The line is I have a Gumby Cat in mind. Her name is Jennyanydots.) After all, we were only going to have her until the kids found a home for her. Uh-huh. We didn’t realize how many years Gumby would be with us.

I’ve suppressed now all the reasons why I hated that cat (it’s kind of like childbirth--when it’s finally over, you start to forget the pain), but the hatred was mutual. I remember once when Walt and I visited the British Museum and we found a postcard of a mummified cat. I bought it for Gumby. Brought it home and thumb tacked it above her food dish. This led to the creation of her own private photo gallery--I also added photos of a drowned cat, and that "hang in there" cat with its limbs splayed, clutching to a screen door with a panicked look on its face. And there was another postcard with photos of all the terrible things you could do to cats. It never phased her. I bought a copy of "101 uses for a dead cat" and left it lying around in conspicuous places. I think she peed on it.

I can’t remember now exactly why we had to have her put to sleep. It was a legitimate reason, though I’d threatened it enough times during her lifetime. When I took her to the vet’s they were so solicitous, offering me extra time to spend with her to tell her goodbye. I just wanted them to kill the damn cat, but I had to play the game and pretend I was sad that I was gleefully turning them over to her and would be going home to a cat-less house for the first time in years. I tried not to jump in the air and click my heels as I walked out to the car after I'd said my goodbyes.

They sent me a sympathy card a few days later, which was very nice of them. I’m sure they were much sadder about it than I was.

Since Gumby died, we have concentrated on the distaff species...the real noble pets; dogs. It’s not that I dislike cats. I like other people’s cats. I don’t even mind if they shed white hair all over my black pants. And I think those photos of cats draped decoratively across someone’s computer monitor are just very cute...but I don’t want one draped across my monitor, thank you. Or walking on my keyboard. Or playing with the ants on the kitchen counter (the ants were here first and have territorial rights). I want to read a newspaper without a cat curled up on Jon Carroll’s column. I don’t want tongue prints in the butter. I don’t want to bond with something that’s going to knead my stomach with its claws (you know about that kneading, don’t you? Ever watch a cat in the hot throes of a good knead? You know that’s the cat version of masturbation, don’t you? Ever see the eyes roll back, the kneading get more intense and then the furious licking of the genitals, after which it has a cigarette and then goes to sleep? Don’t tell me that’s not the cat getting his jollies in my lap!)

I’m afraid I will never again have a cat in my life. I suspect Linda Jean and I will remain cordial towards one another, but she’s never going to be thrilled to see me, and I probably will never make a special trip just to visit Linda Jean.

There are cat people and there are dog people. I am very definitely a dog person.

Sorry, Linda Jean.

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Created 1/30/01 by Bev Sykes