I am a cat woman. The cleverness, independence and fastidiousness of cats are a reflection of how I see myself... only they do it better.
Aside from the first year of our marriage, when we had Fruitcake, a really nutty rabbit, my husband and I always shared our home with dogs and cats.
Dogs are great. They give you unconditional love no matter how you treat them and never question your authority. Cats are different. They make their needs and desires very well known and, if you thwart them, walk haughtily away making it clear that they can do very well without you, thank you very much. And then there’s Pyewacket.
Although Pyewacket was found as a rescue cat, we discovered he was a very special breed: Nebelung, a cross between a Russian Blue and a long haired, possibly Maine Coon, cat. The breed is now recognized by TICA (The International Cat Association). His fur is blue-grey, long and soft as a cloud. His disposition is loving and friendly. Even though, after living with cats all these years, I still don’t speak “Cat,” Pyewacket talks all the time and makes himself completely understandable. He communicates hunger, thirst, playtime, and, above all, love. He also has an adopted “baby,” a stuffed cat he appropriated as a kitten and has nurtured ever since. Hard to believe, but he not only feeds and waters it, he sometimes places it in the litter box. I discovered this because one day, Stanley, our other cat, was pacing back and forth outside the box.
“What’s the matter, Stanley?” I asked, and then realized he was just waiting his turn while the toy cat took up all the space. Ridiculous! My washing machine gets a whole lot of use.
Six years ago, my sister, Nelle, asked what I’d like for Christmas. Our black cat, Sprite, had recently died after living for 18 years, and the first thing I thought of was a cat. Nelle called “Forgotten Felines,” gave them a donation, and told me to choose a kitten. Without knowing it then, this was to become one of the most special gifts of my life.
I told the rescuers I wanted a black cat. They had some, they said, but also had a young grey kitten. I said I’d see them all. There’s an old adage that says, ”People don’t choose cats, cats choose their people.” For one full week before our appointment, I dreamed each night of a long-haired, blue-grey cat, and the moment I saw him I knew he had chosen me. Not only me, but Jason also. He jumped from my arms to Jay’s shoulder and nestled in as if this was something he’d been doing forever. My husband, who liked animals but could take them or leave them, fell head over heels in love with this adorable ball of fluff.
We named him Pyewacket, a name coined by witches for their familiars and soon discovered it was the perfect choice. Pyewacket shared his affection between Jason and me equally, but as soon as Jay “made a lap,” Pye was in it lying on his back, totally content. Since our children were all married and settled into their own homes, we kind of anthropormorphized and made Pyewacket our newest baby. Unlike most cats, he reveled in all the attention and returned it in kind.
When my husband was hospitalized, in the last weeks of his life, Pyewacket would sit by the front door after I came home, waiting. Every night he slept on Jay’s pillow, as he still does, keeping the bond between them.
For the past year, since I’ve been alone, Pyewacket has appointed himself my caregiver. I usually wake to feed him and Stanley at 7 a.m. and then go back to bed. If I am not up by 10 a.m., Pyewacket begins to gently tap my cheek with his paw. Should I pay no attention, he prods me to acknowledge him. I have no choice but to get up and start my day.
If I’m sad, he comforts me by curling up real close and always keeps me company while I write, which I do longhand on a lined pad, lying across my bed. Pyewacket is my “fuzzy baby,” my friend and my caregiver. The only thing he can’t do is rub my back... wonder if I can teach him to do that?