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About a Cat: Part 1

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Let me preface this post by suggesting that if you’re the kind of person who views pets as property rather than a member of the family, then you probably will want to stop reading now. Oh, and I’ll also forewarn you that this is a long story – I’ve got 18 years of stories to share. That said, I’ve decided to break it up into smaller posts.

This is about a cat – a cat that brought much joy, and admittedly, challenges to my life.  Today she would have turned 18 years old, but it was with great sadness that on November 9th of last year, that I had to say good-bye to my beloved feline companion, Osiris Maxwell – or Si, as most everyone called her.  This is a tribute to a cat that was with me during the most tumultuous times of my life – a cat that faithfully stayed by my side when my world seemed to be crumbling around me.  Whoever said dogs are the most loyal of pets, never met the Wusser-Si (my affectionate name for her).

It was in 1995, when I left home to pursue post-secondary studies that an almost two-decade bond with this larger than life feline began.  I had always wanted a cat.  Sure, we had cats growing up.  It’s just that those cats never seemed to stick around that long.  It might have had something to do with a kindly neighbour woman who liked to feed neighbourhood pets, and subsequently lure them into her own home with the promise of tasty morsels; or perhaps, it was because I was obsessed with dressing my cats up in doll clothes when I was a kid (which I later learned is a most undignified state for a feline).  For the most part, my childhood pets consisted of the non-furry variety: fish and lizards. So, I remember thinking that I could finally have any pet I wanted now that I was moving into my very own home.  I knew it was going to be a cat, and I knew that I was going to have that cat for its entire life because I felt strongly (and still do) that a pet is a ‘for-life’ commitment.

Baby Si

Baby Si (1995)

I met Si when she was only a few weeks old.  I instantly fell in love with the little grey and white spitfire of a kitten who hissed at me when I approached her.  Challenge accepted, I thought.  At the time, we all thought Si was a male which is why she ended up with a masculine name.  It was in August of 1995 that I packed up my belongings, picked up Si and headed east to my new home town. Si instantly took to her new home and house mates.  She delighted in all the attention she received, particularly from me.  Soon she was by my side or in my lap whenever she wasn’t eating or playing.  It became clear early on that she was full of ‘cat-itude’.  She ran the household and anyone living in it was there to serve her.  She did what she liked, when she liked and if Si didn’t like you, you’d find out.  What’s more, if I didn’t like you or was mad at you, Si made sure to take up those grievance on my behalf.

I first noticed this fierce feline loyalty when a friend of mine stopped by with a woman that I had met before, but of whom I wasn’t too fond.  This woman just wasn’t pleasant to be around and apparently Si had sensed my unease with her being in our home.  The woman bent down to pet Si and at the same moment Si reached up and clawed the woman across the cheek.  Now, in all fairness, this stranger shouldn’t have invaded an animal’s personal space without properly introducing herself.  This is just common sense.  After leaving four perfectly bleeding claw marks across the woman’s cheek, Si calmly walked away with tail proudly in the air.  Of course, I apologized profusely and scolded Si (then locked her in the bedroom), but the woman laughed it off, and went to the bathroom to clean her wounds.  This was my first indication that Si was an unusually loyal cat, some might even have called her my familiar.

SI_young

Si (1996)

At the time, I was living with a friend and my boyfriend.  My boyfriend had issues with alcohol – meaning that whenever he drank, he became an issue.  Alcohol and he just didn’t mix, and unfortunately he became employed as a cook at a pub.  The temptation to drink (as much as he tried not too) was ever-present.  He eventually fell off the rickety wagon he was on and began coming home, after every shift, drunker than the patrons at the pub on New Year’s Eve.  This caused much discourse in our household.  I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown from trying to balance academic studies with my personal life that was slowly spiralling out of control.  Si began to react to the upheaval by letting the boyfriend know just how she (and I) was feeling.  One day she climbed inside his brand new twenty-hole Doc Marten boots and pissed.  I don’t think he ever did get that eau du cat pee smell out of them.  Yet another day, she quietly climbed up the couch behind him, stood up on her hind legs and proceeded to box the hell out of his ears.  I just pictured her feline thoughts something along the lines of “and this is for being a raging asshole at three o’clock every morning… and this is for playing loud death metal music at four o’clock every morning… and this is for …” well, you get the picture.  Each time she took her frustrations out on the boyfriend, I laughed on the inside.

It was one night in particular that I realized that Si had adopted the role of my protector.  Boyfriend came home in an unusually raging alcoholic fit, so much so that it scared me to the point of locking myself in the bedroom.  Of course, Si was locked in there with me and as we sat listening to a mad man unleash his fury on the apartment; Si began to grab at my throat with her teeth and pull.  It wasn’t a violent bite and tug, but rather the kind mother cats do to their young when carrying them to safety.  From that point onward, whenever I found myself in a fit of tears, Si would bite and tug at me.  Yes, it was unsettling – but in context it was also endearing.

Of course, Si’s bites weren’t always meant as loving gestures.  There were also times when she would show her disapproval by lunging at my arms and biting me.  Those times were usually when I had gone away for a couple days and left her alone or in the care of someone who just didn’t understand her.  In fact, she behaved this way toward me for her entire life.  So much so, that many years later when I married, my husband had to calm Si down upon our return from a weekend away before I could even approach her.  The times that hubby didn’t do this meant Si cornering me and growling at me until she got one good bite into my arm.  Yep, I wasn’t kidding when I said she was a challenging cat.

Devil Si (2003)

“Devil” Si (2003)

It’s true that she scared the crap out of many people which is probably why she was called ‘Devil-cat’ and the ‘Cat from Hell’ by several of my friends.  She was known to bully not only other animals, but people too.  On more than one occasion I had to rescue someone who had been cornered by Si as she stalked them and prepared to strike.  Once I even had to lock Si in a bathroom when she tried to attack a pitbull. That was the thing about Si, she was both a lover and a fighter….

TO BE CONTINUED….

In tomorrow’s post, find out what happens when Si goes on a road trip, meets an iguana, is introduced to the man I would eventually marry, and the heart-wrenching decision I wish I never had to make…

M. xo

To read the continuation of this story, click here

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  1. January 16th, 2016 at 18:55 | #1

    Pets are amazing. I had a dog when I was younger and hope to eventually get a pet for my kids one day. It creates such a great connection.

  1. June 10th, 2013 at 18:09 | #1