Desi wasn’t all that affectionate, so I wasn’t that worried about leaving her for a few days – she did well on her own. She was a rescue kitty; was born in an alley across the street from a library in which I worked. She was only a kitten roaming the streets near our building when she was hit by a car. My humane boss and another coworker took her to a vet – after she left the vet, my boss thought I should be the one to make a good home for her – so, Desi came to live with me. After a couple of corrective surgeries, she began to settle into her new routine. She loved attacking me, jumping from around corners and scaring the daylights out of me – I wasn’t that pleased about this as my three previous cats hadn’t exhibited this behavior. She did grow out of it eventually, for which I am grateful. I’m sure, though, it was just her feral nature that played a big part. Although a pretty short-haired tortoise shell, she didn’t like me to pick her up or, certainly not to hold her – and would seldom come near me. But, occasionally, she did let me stroke her. When she got tired of it, she’d let you know. She wasn’t fond of guests; few could even get near her. A kitty carrier was an abomination! However, during her last few years, she mellowed – she would come near me, and sit at my feet – she’d seek me out and let me pet her. So, those seventeen years of feeding, watering and cleaning cat boxes were noticed.
I must admit, I didn’t have the same rapport with Desi as I did with my most favorite cat, Winston, who preceded Desi. Otherwise known as Winnie, he was a handsome bi-color, black and white short-hair. He looked as if he was wearing a tuxedo. Winnie appeared, with a green ribbon around his neck, at the back door of the library in which I worked (not the one at which Desi appeared.) No one claimed him, so I took him home. He was part of my household for over eighteen years, was sick only once in his life and was especially friendly. Not only friendly, but he was gentle. He recognized his name, and would come when called. If I opened a bag of cheese curls (which I no longer eat) he would come running from some secret place in another part of the house. When my daughter was born, he acted much like a guard dog. He would sit under the crib as if he was in protection mode – never invading her space, but always alert. He was most patient with the little creature that was crawling across his floor space, and when she reached for his tail he never flinched or bit. Winnie did not know a stranger, he loved everyone that came into the house – he made friends with anyone who would pet him. I feel he would have lived more than eighteen years, but a freak accident took him from me. He is buried out in the back yard of the home in which we lived, under a beautiful oak tree.
Although Winnie and Desi are the cats that lived with me the longest, I did have two other cats that had individual characteristics. Elkie, a white, soft, long-haired cat came to live me shortly after my first husband and I were married. The little kitten appeared at my back door, grease spot on her side and hungry. She allowed me to pick her up and provide her with a bit of milk. From then on she lived in our home. We named her Elkie because she liked playing with electric cords. She was a bit cautious of strangers and would hide whenever anyone else came into the house. She was affectionate to those who fed her, allowed us to hold and stroke her, but again, was leery of those she didn’t know. Winnie came to live with us a couple of years later and she accepted him – they became quite friendly. To this mix, another stray came to be with us. After we had moved into our new house, one day I heard a car stop rather abruptly at the corner, then quickly drive off. My curious nature led me to explore, and I discovered a black short-haired kitten had been dumped at the stop sign. Well, that was unsatisfactory – but, he now had a home. We named this rambunctious youngster Randolph. This little bundle of energy “talked” all of the time and seemed to complete the triangular dynamics of the family of one white cat, one black and white and, now, one black cat. When my husband and I divorced, Winston came with me and Elkie and Randolph went to live with their dad. I am guessing they are also in kitty heaven now.
Even though my cohabitation with cats has ceased for the time being, I will admit that I do enjoy the feelings of independence and not having to worry whether or not there is adequate provisions and care. I still, though, do look to see if that stool is occupied.