Archive for July, 2010

That darn cat

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 by penelopegeorge

Some months ago, I permitted my daughter to get a cat. This was not a moment of weakness, but rather, I wanted a cat and I needed to tag-team my husband. My daughter was to use the big, sweet eyes on us, and I was to give in to her first. She and I make a great team.

I really like cats. I like dogs, too, but they require walking in all types of weather. Cats and I, we understand each other. They want love and affection on their terms, and otherwise they are very low maintenance. Like me, they need lots of solitude and sleep.

“Vanilla” was adopted from the pet store. We got him at the pet store because my husband was in charge of taking the kids to the shelter to pick a cat, and the pet store was closer and had better signage. (Thankfully, this store does not deal with pet mills.)  Vanilla wasn’t my daughter’s original choice, but the kitten she picked was one of a pair not yet available for adoption. The following week, we went back to buy it as a family.

My husband showed me the kittens. I took one look at the little balls of fluff and said, “No Siamese cats.”

I will quickly point out that I do not dislike Siamese cats. I have just learned to be leery of them. I’ve known three purebred Siamese cats, two on very long acquaintance, and they were all neurotic. Some people will argue that would describe all cats, but Siamese really do raise the bar. Of the three cats I knew, if they were human, they’d be the ones cutting off people in traffic and making obscene hand gestures. Or they would be standing on the street corner yelling for everyone to save himself, or they would stick their date with the check. I know for a fact their owners loved them to pieces, but I often felt it took a special kind of cat lover to truly want a Siamese for their very own.

But back at the pet store, my husband was confused. How did I know they were Siamese? Well, for starters, the sign on the window said Siamese, but other than that they had the markings of Siamese kittens.

Now, to calm the ire of Siamese cat lovers everywhere, I will confess that I would have lost the battle but for the fact the kittens still weren’t available for adoption. So, under the promise that the little darlings would, indeed, find a kind and loving home another day, I encouraged my daughter to pick a different cat, and we found Vanilla.

Vanilla was nearly all white, save for some orange on his ears and tail (in the months since his back has gotten quite orange, too). The staff informed me he was a Siamese/Snowshoe cross, but by this time my daughter had already cuddled the cat, which all parents know is as good as sold.

Okay, I thought, determined to find a bright side. He’s not all Siamese. He’s only half. I had no idea what a Snowshoe was, nor did the staff, and I assumed it was like Domestic Shorthair, an industry standard code name for “cat”. Snowshoe, I figured, had to refer to the abundance of white. Weeks after we brought Vanilla home, I Googled “Snowshoe cat”. This is what I found.

In 1965, a Siamese breeder had three kittens in a litter with very unique, non-Siamese markings. A breeding program was immediately begun. The name Snowshoe refers to the fact that only the paws are white.

So, no, I do not have a purebred Siamese. I have a Siamese/Siamese Mutant cross. How wonderful.

So far he has displayed several neurotic tendencies, battles all ankles who dare climb the stairs, and still prefers the wall-to-wall carpet to the EmeryCat board, of which I accidentally ordered six plus refills. (For all those who would send me letters defending their precious Siamese against the likes of me, know that the telephone menu at the EmeryCat order line was punishment enough.)

Vanilla also protects us all from drinking straws (he alone has learned those plastic tubes are “bent” on world domination), and will chase them all over the house. He also sits quietly for hours at a time, loves my daughter, tolerates my son, and keeps me in great company early in the morning when I’m the first one up. He leaves my yarn alone and seeks my lap over and over. He learned to trust me with a brush and is doing his best with the nail clippers. He doesn’t head-butt me awake at four in the morning, and he helps us keep the house clean by dumping clutter on the floor until we actually put it away.

I figure if I warn people he’s an ankle-nipper, I’ve done my duty.