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About a Cat: Part 2


If you missed Part 1 of this story, read it here.

Preston, an albino rat, chillaxin' in a hoodie.

Preston, an albino rat, chillaxin’ in a hoodie.

After almost three years of living within the turbulent waters of alcoholism, I abandoned ship.  Before I could prepare for my new journey, boyfriend and I had a custody dispute over the various pets in our care.  In addition to Si, we had raised several pet rats.  Anyone who’s ever had a pet rat will know the kind of joy they can bring – if you can get over the idea that your pet is much maligned rodent.  I knew there was no way boyfriend was going to let me leave with all the pets, so my main focus was to remove Si from that environment.  After much ‘negotiation,’ boyfriend agreed to let me take Si and in exchange he could keep the rats and various mutual gifts bestowed to us as a couple.  Frankly, he could have kept everything I owned so long as I could walk out of there with Si in my arms.

It was with the prospect of a brighter horizon, that Si and I embarked on new adventures.  For a few years, we lived a nomadic existence, cohabitating with various different people and furry friends (or foes, if you asked Si).  During this time, Si was faithfully by my side.  At times, her loyalty was a tad overbearing.  Visitors were generally considered an imposition on her time with me.  If I was engaged in conversation with a friend, Si would jump into my lap, bite my arm and then lay down with laser eyes trained on said friend.  I couldn’t really blame her, could I?  She was highly suspicious of everyone – but, mostly men.   Admittedly, I was also covered in the residue of my previous relationship.  A dark cloud had formed around me as I engaged in the self-blame game of a failed relationship and flunking out of college.  For a gal who had always excelled academically (and incidentally won an award the same year she flunked out ), seeing those glaring Fs had greatly contributed to my deflating self-esteem.  Si was reacting by becoming more protective of me.

Laser-eyed Si

Laser-eyed Si

On two occasions I had to leave Si in the care of others. I was again bewildered by this feline’s unwavering loyalty.  I left her in early 1998 with my housemates while I travelled to another city to find a job and a new place to live.  During this time an ice-storm blanketed the region and knocked power out for days.  People were freezing in their homes.  My housemates had desperately tried to get Si to leave my freezing bedroom and warm up in an area being heated by a gas stove.  Si refused to budge.  She waited in my bedroom for weeks for me to return.  Cold or no cold, she wasn’t leaving.

About a year later, I had to once again leave Si with my housemates.  I was gone for a month, but I knew Si was in the care of someone who understood her.  Si was being watched by my best friend and they had a good (as good as it could be with Si) relationship.  In fact, I always said that no one, but me, could ever take care of Si – except my best friend.  She knew what we had both been through and Si seemed to sense that she was on our side.  I was racked with guilt for leaving her for so long once again.  Upon my return,  my best friend went into the living room and said, “Wusser-Si, your Mommy’s here.” Si jumped down from the couch and ran over to me while meowing jubilantly.  It was one of the most moving displays of affection Si had ever shown me. It was as if she had been waiting for me to come get her – as if she knew I would return.

Several months went by as Si and I lived in a tiny bachelor apartment completely on our own.  During this time, Si would frequently accompany me on trips back to my home town.  She would happily sit in the back window of the car for the long journey.  Her eyes would dilate the size of saucers as she watched the lights of other vehicles pass by.

On one such visit, I took Si to my Grandpa’s house.  Grandpa wasn’t very fond of cats.  Apparently, many years earlier, he had had a terrible encounter with a feline that scarred him for life.  So when I walked in with Si cradled in my arms, he – in his often colourful language – asked, “What the hell is that and why the fuck are you bringing it into my house?”  Now my Grandpa was tough on the outside, but when it came to his granddaughter, he was a big softy.  I simply told Grandpa that where I went, Si went.  I freed Si from my arms and she merrily went about her business investigating the house, all the while my Grandpa kept a close eye on the beast.

During that same visit, Si met my childhood pet, Dravecky.  Dravecky was an iguana that had been with our family for years.  He had free reign of the house and was full of the equivalent of ‘cat-itude’ – we’ll call it ‘iguan-itude’.  My mother had to frequently scold him for sneaking up onto the kitchen table and eating her breakfast when she had her back turned.  Dravecky was also known to stand off with anyone who happened to encounter him in the upstairs hall.  Much like Si, Dravecky was the boss of his house.  Now, when I say iguana you might be tempted to picture those cute little reptiles found in terrariums of pet stores.  No, you see, Dravecky was over ten years old and he hadn’t been caged for his entire time with us.  He was a large domesticated lizard.  It often took the power of two grown men to subdue him, when the need called.  Assuredly one whip from his tail would have seriously injured Si.  So, naturally I was nervous about how the two would get along.  Of course, those nerves were unwarranted because, well, Si was the boss not only in her own home, but in any home she entered.  So for three days and nights, poor Dravecky stayed perfectly still on his perch high enough up that Si couldn’t reach him.  The only thing that moved on that lizard was his eye which was trained on Si like a sniper’s rifle.  I’m not sure that Si even noticed that there was another animal in the house.  It’s more likely that she just didn’t care.  So long as the other beast knew its proper place.

Stu hanging out on top of Dravecky.

Stu hanging out on top of Dravecky.

That’s how Si was with any animal she encountered.  Several years later when my Dad would bring his large dog, Valentine to visit, Si would be the only cat in the household to venture into the same area as Valentine.  She’d walk right up to Valentine and hiss, and then promptly walk away.  You know, just to make sure the dog knew its place too.  That was Wusser-Si – absolutely no fear.  While other cats were cowering during thunderstorms, she’d be calmly bathing herself and (I imagine) laughing on the inside at their foolishness over a little storm.

While Si and I were living in that tiny bachelor apartment,  I met my future husband.  That’s when life started to change for both of us.  It began when I had to make a decision I wish I never had too.  It was with much hesitation that I had to have Si de-clawed when she was approaching the age of five years old.  Now anyone who knows a thing about cats knows this is a very painful experience for felines – particularly the older they get.  It’s tantamount to a human having their finger removed at the knuckle.  I made this decision after consulting a vet about her behaviour.  Si had been getting more aggressive, much of it I imagined had to do with my highly neurotic state.  The vet simply stated that I had two choices, put her down or de-claw her.  For the record, I am against de-clawing of cats and none of the other cats I’ve had over the years have ever been de-clawed.  With Si though, I felt like I had no choice.  Her early (and formative) years had been spent in the company of a violent alcoholic, and this had clearly left her on the defensive – particularly toward men.  She never took to any of the subsequent boyfriends I had, and became quite aggressive when I started dating my husband-to-be.  I think she sensed I was falling love, which meant sharing my affection with another.  Si was never very good at sharing.

Even the dreaded vacuum was no match for the Wusser-Si.  It was just another day at the spa.

Even the vacuum was no match for Si. It was just another day at the spa.

Ironically, hubby was perhaps the kindest and gentlest man I had ever been acquainted with, so it was quite disconcerting when he would sleep over and be attacked in the middle of the night by a very jealous and protective cat.  As hubby recounts, Si would sit at the end of the bed and wait for his feet to dangle over.  Then she would raise her paw, unsheathe each claw one after the other, and let the moonlight glisten on them before swiping full throttle at his feet.  True to his nature though, hubby didn’t lash out at Si.  Instead he began to gain her trust (through copious amounts of soft food, treats, and ear rubs).  So, when I decided to once again live with a man, I made the heart-wrenching decision to have Si de-clawed.  It was not only so my hubby (who is also allergic to cats) could live without fear of being maimed, but because we were talking about having children.  There were just far too many what-ifs where Si was concerned.  I wasn’t about to end her life just because she was overprotective.  That wasn’t her fault.  So, I opted for the lesser of two evils.  If  kids ever blessed our life, we would reassess the situation to see how Si would adjust.  In the meantime, hubby’s feet needed a break from the nightly bombardment of Wusser-Si lashings.

Surprisingly, Si took to the de-clawing rather well.  She simply learned how to defend herself in other ways.  So, when we adopted another cat, Si was still boss of the house – even without claws.  She stayed boss of the house right up until the day she died.  We’ve had several cats throughout the years, and none of them could topple Queen Si from her throne.  It was impressive, indeed to watch her puff up and growl at the newest additions – and then see them roll over and expose their bellies.  It was like some weird feline Jedi mind trick.

Nap-time Si

Nap-time Si

Si also took to hubby.  A friend who hadn’t seen Si in years (and who had once lived with Si) was amazed at Si’s demeanor when she came to visit us.  That’s when hubby got the moniker, ‘Cat Whisperer’.  Whether it was the treats or constant ear rubs, Si loved hubby.  She had him trained in no time too.  Every night at 6 pm promptly, she would paw at hubby incessantly until he relented and gave her treats.  We once decided to see how long she would paw at him for her treats.  After an hour and half, hubby caved.


Stayed tuned to find out what happens when Si lives with four pesky kittens, (reluctantly) bonds with another cat and finds peace in the final years of her life…

M. xo

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