I've never met a cat I couldn't learn to love, but I have met a few that the learning process took a lot more effort. Fifi was one of those.
With her long white coat and elegant grace, she reminded me of a feline version of Marilyn Monroe. Just as Marilyn's ethics were, and still are, often in question, Fifi has raised a few eyebrows herself.
It's hard to admit being outwitted, outsmarted and plain old outdone by a gorgeous house cat, but to pretend anything different would only make me look worse. Besides that cat isn't just beautiful, she's got brains.
She isn't my cat, thank God for small favors. She belongs to my neighbors, but I did, however, get roped into caring for her while her owners were out of town. I was also to feed Granddaddy, the goldfish. Of course, thanks to Fifi, the job was cut in half.
In Fifi's defense, her owners would like for me to state that none of the following incidents were actually Fifi's fault. Since she was about six months old, she's suffered from an affliction called spring fever. This fever, I am told, leads to variable degrees of erratic and naughty behavior. The result of the affliction, kittens, is what her owners wanted to avoid.
In my own defense, I'd like to state that her owners failed to warn me of the severity of Fifi's problem. Oh sure, they requested that I not let their baby go outside. They didn't tell me that Fifi, a natural escape artist, made Houdini look like an amateur. They never mentioned her weird behaviors could result in the demise of other household pets, or that she was capable of scheming breakout-plans that could be sold to the inmates at high-security penitentiaries.
The first week I'd go over twice a day to disperse food and attention between the feline and Granddaddy. The fish was always happy to see me. Fifi chose to totally ignore my presence.
The next few days her cold-shoulder routine turned into something a tad less becoming. Hissing, pacing, and howling. I know cats aren't supposed to howl, but believe me, Fifi did a grand job of it. Staring her directly in the eyes, with my hands locked over my ears, I proceeded to inform her that such yowling was not lady-like behavior. However, I soon learned that Fifi was no lady.
Remembering how my neighbors warned about Fifi's attempts to slip outside, I would always open the door just the needed crack so I could turn sideways and squeeze in. Much to my insult, the cat learned that my needed squeeze-in space was larger than her needed slip-out space. The cat waited until I painfully reduced my bust-size a notch as I squeezed inside, and then she made her get away.
I made a mad dash after her. Fifi headed straight for the tree. Throwing caution and good sense to the wind, I climbed after her.
I'd almost reached her when she decided to jump. Feeling secure at being only a few feet up I decided to follow. I forgot the theory about cats always landing on their feet, or rather, I forgot that humans don't possess the trait. My pants leg caught on a limb and I belly-flopped on a very thin cushion of new spring grass. My breast size was once again reduced a notch.
While I gasped for air, Fifi ran to the edge of a wooded lot where two toms awaited her arrival. She glanced back at me. The wind picked up her long fur and blew it across her face, she wiggled her tail in the air, sending tempting signals to her admirers. At that moment, I felt certain she wasn't just a feline version of Marilyn Monroe, she was the reincarnation, and one, if not both, of those toms were Kennedys.
Fifi returned later wearing a contented glow. That evening Fifi and I had a talk. Frustrated at her lack of interest, I took her to the fish bowl, pressed her nose against the tank and told her she should take a few behavioral lessons from Granddaddy.
Looking back, I probably shouldn't have done that. Because the next day Granddaddy had disappeared. That night I found him buried face down in the kitty litter. While I gave him a three-flush-salute burial, I wondered how I was going to explain this to my neighbors. I just hoped that Fifi's adventure didn't need to be explained.
Little did I know, the adventures weren't over. One morning while changing the litter box I opened the window. Now it was an upstairs window and had a sturdy screen. After turning my back for a few moments I found the screen ripped apart and Fifi missing. Worried the land-on-your-feet rule might have failed her, as it had me, I made a mad dash down the stairs. Just as I yanked opened the door, a conniving Fifi, who hadn't jumped, skittered from beneath a chair and flew outside to meet the awaiting Kennedy brothers.
Her next ploy was the old play-deathly-ill trick. Draped off the couch she could hardly raise her head, barely breathe. Realizing I already had to explain the demise of one pet, not wanting to make it two, I wrapped her in a blanket to rush her to a vet. The moment I was outside Fifi suddenly regained her strength and rejoined the political party.
Through the next few weeks she brilliantly managed to escape the cat carrier, rip open several more screens, reduce my bust-size a few more notches, and play mind games with my head.
By the time her owners returned I'd thrown in the towel and was simply opening the door and letting her out. Let's face it, we'd had a battle of wits and she'd won. Somewhere along the line, I'd even begun to admire her intelligence.
It's been over six weeks now and I'm sure you can guess the outcome. Fifi's pregnant...again. As much as I know I'll regret this, if she has a white kitten with brains and beauty, I'll probably claim it as my own. Come spring time, however, that kitty and I are going to the vet. I'm told there's a cure for this affliction. Spaying.
From the Readers
One year ago our 12 year old Cat Max whom we had raised from a kitten, developed feline diabetes and had to be put down, My husband was extremely upset, and depressed.
We went home to take away the litter box and my husband put Max's favorite toy, a small ball with a bell in it up on a shelf in a "bowl". The next day we found the ball on the floor again right beside Max's water dish. How it "fell" out of a bowl and back on the floor we will never know but my husband just smiled and said he knew Max would not really leave us for long. My husband is no longer depressed and the ball is still on the floor.
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