Monday, June 14, 2004

A Brief History of Cats at My Parent's House

Peaches was my mother's cat and is the archetypal cat, for my life and for all time. Every other cat is judged as to how like or unlike they are to Peaches. Peaches was a kitten, then she had kittens, then her kittens had kittens. She grew old and she was the matriarch of all cats on my back porch. She lived outside, just like all of them lived outside, because in my childhood years, there was no such thing as an indoor pet. After many years (after my whole life) she got sick, so sick that she couldn't eat and she couldn't move and she couldn't see. She could make noise, but only for help, or out of pain. My dad took her behind the shed and my mom cried.

There was another, one of Peaches' kittens, and her name was Spot, or possibly Cleo. Both of them sound right. In her youth she hung out in the woods mostly an didn't like to be touched by people. After awhile--and it truly seemed like many years, for Spot (or possibly Cleo) was one of Peaches' first kittens and was a kitten for ages, though it was probably only one summer--she had kittens of her own, and she calmed down a little bit. After Peaches dies Spot (Cleo) settled down a lot and started to hang out on the porch, and to sleep there under the picnic table, and she even let you pet her sometimes.

Tiger was the first cat I ever named. She was Spot's (Cleo's) kitten. She got hit by a car. There were a lot more, but they tend to fade out and fold in on one another.

Peaches' line (and I like to think of it as a dynasty) eventually died out and my folks didn't have cats anymore for a long time. But once when I came to visit, after I'd dropped out of school the first time but before I left for Chicago, I found a kitten hiding in the tirewell of my dad's pick-up truck. I coaxed it out from under the truck and I fed him and he took to living on the back porch. My parents had a cat again and I named him T-Bone. I'd named a few cats by then, and I knew how it was done.

A female cat started to show up and my mom named her Mrs. T, and who knew my mom had that kind of sense of humor? T-Bone, being a wanderer at heart, took to disappearing for weeks at a time, coming back to eat and rest for a few days, before he disappeared altogether. I like to think that he's made it up to the northern forests of Canada by now. But before he left for good he started his own dynasty with Mrs. T. Now my parents have half a dozen cat, and Mrs. T rules over them all.

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