Sunday, July 3, 2011
Schatzie's Most Excellent Adventure
Schatzie and her son, Baby Gray, came to us when our beloved neighbour, Mr. Lefebure, passed away. That it's been six years is hard to believe. At that time, we were told by Mr. Lefebure's brother that Schatzie was already 20 years old. That would put her at 26 today.
We dubbed the two gray cats Mama Gray and Baby Gray when we moved their little carpets from the wood shed on Mr. Lefebure's property to the barn closest to our house. They quickly caught on that this was their new place, and we never saw them return next door again. I guess home is where the food is, if you're a cat.
Both cats spent the better part of their first two years with us living outside. Baby only became approachable towards the end of his life. If Baby Gray had a power supply, it would have been hooked up to 220. This cat was wired, tense and nervous. His eyes were like a deer's caught in the headlights - always open and watching. Towards the end of his life, Baby became a bit more flexible, and even spent a few nights inside the house during cold snaps. He disappeared on Christmas Eve 2 years ago, and I'd like to think he fell asleep and never woke up again. That's my Christmas wish, and I'm sticking to it.
When Mama Gray moved in, we renamed her Schatzie. "Chat" is cat in French, and "Schatz" means dear in German, so I hybridized both words as I am wont to do, and the name stuck. Occasionally, we call her Schitzie, another play on words based on her litter box habits, or lack thereof. Her aim is sometimes a bit off, much to my dismay.
Schatzie spends exactly 23.5 hours a day asleep. When she's not sleeping on Cooper's dog-bed in the kitchen, she's awake and meowing for her food. She's stone-deaf, ergo, she doesn't hear herself meow, and this results in the most ear-drum shattering meow a cat can muster. She's loud and she's determined. The minute I walk in the kitchen and she catches sight of me, it's one long-drawn out, meow-fest that comes out with gargling undertones. If Schatzie has a mission statement, it would be Feed Me. Even my mother jokingly gave me a cat dish for her, and that's what's written on the bowl. Not only do I have to feed her, but she takes 2 bites, looks at me again, and starts to gargle/meow some more. I grab a spoon, shovel her food into a little pile in the center of her bowl, and this food rearrangement process repeats itself ad nauseum until Schatzie finally has enough, or until Popina (the little oinker) edges her out of the way if I'm not watching carefully. If I'm sitting on the sofa when Madame finishes her meal, she promptly sits beside me and cleans her muzzle on my elbow. Thanks, Schatzie, you're a doll!
From time to time, the Old Hag likes to go outside and eat grass, which she then pukes up in the house on some carpeted surface when my back is turned. When she goes out, she never strays far from the front door, and the other day, she greeted me on the walkway as I walked in with full arms. I went back to my car, brought more stuff to the house, and returned to lock it. Now, I should note, the interior of my car is dark gray. You can see where this story is going, can't you? I looked high and low for her, in the garage and barn, under the cars, around the house, and under the hosta she used to sleep under. I sent Cooper out and told him to "go find Schatzie". I don't need to tell you he came up empty, too.
Eric and I went out that evening for a quick bite to eat. As we pulled in the driveway, I looked hopefully for Schatzie's little face, but she was no where to be seen. Fear struck my heart, and I knew I'd have to kick-up the search and rescue effort to high gear. Then I looked over to Eric, who's pointing at my car with a knowing grin. I looked inside, and there's little Schatzie, all 3 and-a-half pounds of the boney hag, sitting on the back seat, on the dry-cleaning no less. I fumbled for my keys, and when the beast was released, she let out a croaky little meow and jumped down in her little stumbling arthritic manner. If Schatzie had only 2 of her 9 lives left, I blew one that day for sure. I could have blown both if it would have been hotter. As it was, it was a cool, overcast day, pretty much typical of our entire month of June. I made a promise that day that I would never leave my car open, and if I did, I'd check back and front seats before locking it up. I never would have imagined that Schatzie, of all cats, was an adventurer.
I joke about high-maintenance Schatzie, her litter box accidents, the fact she needs a special diet, her deafness, and the fact that her grooming habits are nil. I have to brush her regularly to keep her de-matted, and the little bitch thanks me by digging her claws into my hand on occasion.
All that said and done, I love the old girl and hope she makes it another 26 years.