Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cat Whiskers

copyright Grace Albaugh 2009

Whiskers of all the cats that graced our home

Mother and dad are getting well into their senior years. I shared in an earlier post that Daddy died when I was eight, but when I was 10 my mother remarried. He is a wonderful man who has been my dad ever since. I make the rather small trek (40 min) from Roseville to Hastings every other Monday to spend the afternoon and evening with them. I help mother with things like sorting the family pictures, making up a new address book that is current and going through and sorting out her closets. It gives her a sense of accomplishment and gives me a chance to keep an eye on her. I have a feeling this will be the year they need to make some sort of move to better address their needs. I'm sure that will be a future post.
When I was there last week I noticed a tiny pottery vase on one of the bookshelves. I could see there was something in it and as I got closer I realized that there were cat whiskers in it. Now you can imagine how small this vase is if cat whiskers are sticking half way out. This little vase used to live in the corner china hutch in the dining room of my childhood home at 106 River St. I haven't seen it for at least 15 years. Mother had it tucked away and recently brought it out.
We had many, many animals in the house over the years of my growing up. At one time we counted 26 non human lives existing in our presence. There were cats, dogs, birds, fish and reptiles. At one point there was even a blind chip monk, living in a hamster cage, that one of the cats had gotten but didn't kill.
Over the years we had five cats. Our first cat was Maude McFuzz. She was a present to me on my 6th birthday. She and I were great friends but she literally hated everyone else. We had to put her away in an upstairs bedroom when ever company came over. If she was left out to roam around she inevitably climbed up on the back of the couch and attacked the head of whoever chose to sit there. She was mean. She was also pregnant when we got her and when those dear little kittens were born she smothered two of them and only two survived. We had to bottle feed them because Maude would not feed them. Maude went back to the farm where we had gotten her and we raised the kittens. Flopsy and Daisy were sweet Little things and grew quickly as cats do but they were wild like their mother and tore up everything in the house. They too met with life on the farm. I'm sure they were happy there.
Our next cat was one my brother had mistaken for a baby skunk down in the woods and tried to hit it with his slingshot. I know, not a very bright idea. But he realized it was a kitten at the last moment when he heard her meow. It was raining and she was soaked and hungry. No mother in sight, so he brought her home. Another kitten to bottle feed and she too grew up strong. We had Pricilla for many years. She was our cat with nine lives surviving one of them after being crushed by a car.
Our final cat was found about a year after we got Pricilla. Mother was visiting a friend who lived out on the edge of town when she heard meowing coming from the back yard. There was a kitten stuck up in a small tree. She was all fur and ears. The woman said just to let her go. They had lots of Ferrel cats that wondered in and out of the area. Well that wouldn't do for mother so after going door to door to inquire, and fining out she was really a stray, she brought her home. She was old enough for solids so no bottles this time. We named her Caroline and she grew to be 16 lbs. It was like animals could smell our soft hearts and just put themselves in our path. I'll tell you about our dog Jack another time.
So all this information and nothing about the whiskers. The whiskers were mothers thing. Every once in awhile a cat's whiskers will fall out. When mother found one on the floor or furniture she picked it up and put it in this tiny vase in the china hutch. I think it was her way of holding on to a connection with these cats. They just pulled at her heart and she kept them. So now there are cat whiskers from all of our cats still around to remind us of them. A small whisker bouquet. Sitting on the bookshelf in the living room. I have to say I'm glad they are there. They pull at my heart too.

copyright 2009

What are your pet memories?

1 comment:

Cheffie-Mom said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. The cat whiskers pulled at my heart strings, too.