Cat blog about my life with many, many cats.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Kirby, the Old Cat

Kirby is a cat I adopted from a vet about ten years ago. She's a striped tabby, thin and lean, with colorful orange and white splotches down her belly. She's my bachelorette cat, the puss who's been with me since my early days living by myself in Princeton. I once rented a tiny writer's garret apartment in the attic of an old Victorian house. It was a dark, depressing place, but it was right in the center of that pretty university town, and it allowed me to walk everywhere. There was only room for one cat, much as I would have preferred to provide Kirby with a companion. The way it worked out, I became her only companion.

I don't much like it when people adopt animals, especially cats, thinking that they'll be so "low maintenance," and then they never spend any time with them. When I used to walk around Princeton, on any given block I could name a handful of animals, people's pets, who rarely saw their owners. Everyone is so unquestioning of the automatic 60 hour work week that the world has adopted. They don't realize how that lifestyle doesn't mesh well with an animal's needs. These poor people's pets are practically abandoned, they so rarely have any contact with anyone.

Well, Kirby and me became joined at the hip (or the whiskers) right at the start. I worked from home while I lived there, first as a psychic counsellor, commuting for a few hours a week to my nearby office, but much of the time working on the phone. Later, when I made the transition to freelance writer, Kirby was still at my side. Only, at that point, Kirby had the freedom to make editorial decisions. Whenever she didn't like something, she could always press the delete key with one swift paw. (And, frequently, she did. I have to say that, for the most part, her editorial eye was excellent. I rarely missed any text after she had removed it.)

I'll never forget the time when I was still computing my tax returns on my own (and not very competently, I might add.) One day, I had the completed forms sitting on my table, and I was preparing to get them photocopied before sending them out. While I was getting together my coat and purse, Kirby "urped," and sure enough, a big blob of hair-filled goop landed on my Federal income tax form. Then, there was the inevitable follow-up - a second one landed on my State tax form.

Although I was annoyed, it turned out that that was the very best thing that could have happened to those forms. I had figured them out incorrectly, and if I'd sent them in, I probably would have been assessed penalties. (That's what you get for not being a math genius.) Kirby saved the day through heroic hairball emissions. Who would've thunk it possible?

Two years ago when my boyfriend and I left Princeton to move to this farmhouse here in the country, we brought along Kirby, Cal (my boyfriend's lovely, tubby, calico cat) and Smoky (a sleek and pretty gray cat we both adopted as a stray.) The three girls loved the move out to the country. I was so glad, because Kirby had to make the transition to having extra company now. She wasn't used to having other cats around. It had always been just her and me.

Little did I know how much company she'd eventually have to get used to! Now we have eight cats. Yikes! But Kirby seems unphased by all of them. She's fearless with the big males, in spite of their blustery ways. Even Earl and Tabby, our two bruisers who are always fighting, bow their hats to the mighty Kirby who, with one sharp hiss and a swipe of her claws, makes it instantly clear that she won't be messed with or have her routines disturbed.

Now thirteen years old (but not appearing a day over ten, my vet kindly assures me,) this still-spry girl has kept many of her old habits. She has always been a desk cat, and she alternates between Tom's desk and mine, where she knows she can sleep beneath the desk lamps and simply be near us while we work.

Kirby's a good cat. She's put up with a lot from me over the years, and I will always appreciate her.


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