Sunday, September 25, 2022

C. Stroup – Catastrophic Hardly Says It!

Last month, I attempted to explain how things can really go awry with children and their neighbors’ pets.  The focus was on my child and the wrong way our neighbors and we handled a very delicate situation.  Just blow that entire story off.  It’s meaningless by comparison to what happened next.

When son Brad turned eight, we adopted a cat he named Curly…so named because of the nappy coat she sported.  She reminded me of a critter who had stuck a paw in a wall outlet and experienced high voltage.  And she was high voltage.  She’d pull out all stops while racing down the hallway to climb aboard Brad’s back.  Her front claws had already been removed when we adopted her…a blessing for Brad, not for the cat.  I just don’t believe in that, although claws can certainly take a toll on furniture, drapes, carpet and especially string wallpaper and human flesh.  Still, de-clawing a cat ~ how would I feel after having my fingernails ripped out and then re-coop from that?

Curly’s back nails were totally intact when the attack cat would get the urge to have at Brad’s back.  But her aggressive behavior became more than any of us could handle so we returned her to the animal shelter from whence she came.  This was a sad day but a good day as well.  We brought Black Beauty home and “Blacky” immediately owned the house and all our hearts.  Must admit, I was her favorite!

Then my hubby Ken brought this outsider grey striped “Old Tom” cat home from a farm.  Tom was definitely Ken’s kitty and oh so Brad’s lover boy.  Sucker used to sit on Brad’s bed every morning, waiting for the kid to finish his shower.  The two would nuzzle and cuddle just long enough to almost make Brad late for the school bus.  Then “Old Tom” would search for Ken, his second favorite man.  I was just chopped liver…fill the food and water bowl, clean out the litter box and take the damn cat to the vet.

Old Tom played second fiddle to Blacky, however.  She ruled the food dish, water bowl and was certainly first in line for litter box time.  Tom respected her.  Actually,  feared is the right word.  It didn’t take long for her to train him about manners…ladies before gentlemen.  Took maybe three big convincing bites to his rear until he all butt bowed so she could crunch the kitty kibbles first.

Over the course of the next 8 years, both cats were indoors and out-of-doors at their deference.  Ever tried to tether a cat?  Ever tried to explain to a feline about staying indoors?  Well, just don’t.  Tom became a master at catching humming birds.  He could leap at least 7 feet into the air to snatch one in flight.  The poor birds were easy prey since they loved feeding on our trumpet vines outside the back porch.  We did, once, manage to save a hummer from his grasp, held it in our hands until it flew off.

Blacky was the door kitress of all times.  You could never close nor open a door quickly enough to keep her on either side.  She’d dare and defy any attempt to keep her in or out. The words, ‘capture cat quick’ were never part of her vocabulary.  Unfortunately, this attitude contributed to this kitty spending all of her nine lives dodging doors. 

My Bro Jim and Sis-in-Law came to visit.  We headed out for a taste of Texas at the Mesquite Rodeo.  I’d like to think we had a good time.  Several hours later Ken drove us all back home through one of those downpours a spring can bring.

All was swell until the car headlights illuminated our splayed black cat under the garage door.  Horrified, then embarrassed, but totally in denial, I insisted the cat be taken to the nearest emergency room.  The sane adults kept me in the van and removed the dead cat from my sight.  It was too hot, too wet and too late to deal with the situation at that time.  So my pitiful Black Beauty was double wrapped in some plastic bags and frozen in the garage freezer.  This was per my instruction and not having a clue as to what else we could do just then. 

In those days, garage doors didn’t automatically rise to the occasion of a foreign object beneath their weight.  Poor Blacky had used all of her nine lives and truly…she used twice that many throughout her daredevil days.

It became a totally weird thing for me to go to the fridge in the garage knowing that Blacky lay stiff in the freezer.  This went on for several months because I just couldn’t bring myself to deal with her burial.  But one fine day Brad and two of his buddies offered to bury the cat.  The names of these friends are being withheld to protect the innocent?  (Teenage boys are a strange lot.)  I was in the kitchen looking out the window over the sink when one “innocent” haled me.

“Mrs. Stroupie.  Look!  We have the dead cat.”  They had staged an event for my benefit.

Sure enough, Brad was wielding the black plastic bag from the freezer…whirling it over his head and (once he knew I’d focused on him) threw the bag (with reckless abandon) into the pond behind our house.  I knew it would be wrong to take the lives of three teenagers but the possibility of temporary insanity for a defense did give a few synapses time for pause.

Oh, how the boys enjoyed my near stroke.  They had put a pillow in a black plastic bag and tossed it to the waters.  The poor, not forgotten kitty was still in the garage fridge.  Since steam was rising from the top of my head, and since they realized I might actually cause them bodily harm, they made recompense…

The boys (who were lucky to be alive) took the kitty to the dam at the south end of the lake for a proper burial.  They dug a groovy grave, said some words, don’t care to know what those were, and buried, at last, this long lost frozen soul.  They even placed a wooden cross on top.  Look, this is what they told me they did and I believed them. 

Wouldn’t you?



Originally published in the April 2010 edition of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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