Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lizzie the Cat

There's a certain intensity about Lizzie that was quite clear from the very, very beginning.

Her mother was a ranch cat, a white Manx who was incredibly tough and had quite the attitude. I took her in to have her last litter and then get her spayed. She used to wake me up by placing her claws under my eyes and literally prying them open. Suffice it to say, she had my full attention.

I had never seen anything born before. I knew I was going to keep one of the kittens, and I had one from the same cat's prior litter who was my first cat (and will undoubtedly appear in future posts). I could see the tiny kitten claws pushing against her stomach, anxious to be born, making tiny imprints. One day I came home for lunch and found a tiny wet kitten had arrived, so I stayed to greet the others.

I wondered how I would pick the one to keep when no doubt they would all be cute. The first four came out as little wet blobs and made their way to a nipple. I couldn't tell colors for sure, certainly not genders, and they didn't look much like kittens yet. Number five to come out was instantly different: the second the jaws passed the birth canal, they opened and began screaming. It was instant love: I wanted that one; she had something to say. Lizzie hollered her indignation at being thrust into the world and didn't stop for several minutes. She went the opposite way from the other kittens, crawling around the back of her mom to get to the nipple in front. She chose her own path from the start.

Before she could walk, she was the fattest of the 6 kittens. She scraped the others off the adjacent nipples with her paws acting as little windshield wipers so she could get more milk for herself. But, as soon as her legs worked, she became the thinnest, because she ran circles around all the others. She was the first to learn to climb onto the bed, and from the beginning she liked to sleep there with me after she tired herself out.

I was never a cat person; the first one arrived when I was 33. Lizzie came a year later and if I'd ever had any doubts about my conversion to a cat-person, she wiped them out completely. She's independent but affectionate at the same time. She rises up to meet my hand and get petted. She meets me at the door, whether she's inside or out. She gives me "presents" of non-maimed, but deceased, mice and birds. She loves to hunt. She still likes to talk. Every day she demands a few minutes of my full and complete attention, during which she gives me a narrative I desperately wish I could understand. Then she's quiet - until it's time to ask to go out or be served food. In protest when we take in foster animals, she deserts the bed, but returns within a few days of reclaiming the house when they're gone. She sits on command, and fetches fake mice, and comes every time she's called. She has a kink in her partial tail - the last vertebrae goes a different direction, and she has only a third of a tail, thanks to that Manx heritage. I can't believe how much personality she packs into 7 pounds. I miss her intensely when on the road.

Friday being cat blog day, my first is in tribute to Lizzie. You might as well meet her now, as she is bound to appear in future posts, thanks to her many adventures, which help keep my life interesting.

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