I share my space with two cats - Lily and Chester. This is the story of Lily and Chester and what they "tell" me.
Call me a crazy cat lady. That's fine. This blog is dedicated to those of us who are owned by cats and believe they're a little smarter than we give them credit for.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Just when I think ...

... Lily might be smarter than the average cat, she forgets to put her tongue back in her mouth post-grooming.
Mistake ... or social commentary?
I smartly fought the urge to flick her tongue.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Pre-cat ownership, I had a fantasy of what it would be like to nap with a cat in the house. I imagined curling up under a blanket, having the cat shape her lithe body into an "o" - nose tucked under tail - at my feet, and the two of us slipping gently into slumber.

This never happens. Chester tries to sleep on my head or suckle my fingers. Lily knocks things off shelves in an attempt to get my attention. Or I plop down on the couch and Lily and Chester snuggle in for a nap together in their cat bed, wait for me to fall asleep, and then they become impossibly awake.

Translating my cats' body language and behaviors into human speak - specifically the English language - I will tell you the story of how I woke up this morning and how my afternoon nap went wrong.

First, waking up:
Chester: OH MY GOD! omigodomigodomigod! Look. Look. LOOK! Holy shit, it's the - oops, I dropped it - it's the mouse I lost under the fridge last month! I can't - did you see that? It moved - I can't believe I found it! It was my favorite thing. Here, mom. Take it. IT MOVED! I better kill it! Whew! I love you, mom. Are you proud of me, because I'M proud of me, and - it moved again! Take that! And that! And ... oops. I dropped it off the bed. Be right back! Look, I'm back. And - wait. What's Lily doing in here?
Lily: Wassup guys? Nice mouse. I'm going to look in the window for a minute.
Chester: Whatever. I have a mouse. I think it moved!
Lily: I'm done in the window. Wait. I wonder what's out the window.
Chester: Did you see the pillow? It moved! Take that pillow! And that! AND THAT! Where's my mouse?
Lily: Nothing out the window again. Hey - your face doesn't smell like me anymore. Let me fix that.
Me: JESUS! I'm up!

The nap:
Lily: You up? I hope you're up, because I want under the blanket.
Me: Here.
Lily: That's all that's under there? Hmph. Never mind. Wait. What about on this side? Cool. Wait. No. It's boring on this side. Let me try the other side again. Did you know I can stand on your stomach with my claws out? Oh! I know. I'm going to play 127 Hours - without the boulder and cutting my foreleg off. I sneak around and around and oops! I'm out of the cave. I need petted now. On this side, too. Wait. Your hair is moving. I need to swat it. There. OH! Guess what. My claw totally fits in your nostril. See? Great! You're getting up.

A little backstory

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who loved cats. Like - an unhealthy amount. I wanted to BE a cat. But seeing as how I did not have access to Calvin's transmogrifier (see: http://www.lovine.com/hobbes/comics/transmogrifier.html), I'd have to settle with having a cat as a pet. One problem: My stepdad is super allergic to cats. We had two cats when I was growing up. Neither one stayed with us for more than a few months. Can't say the man didn't try.
Fast forward several years, and my adult self was living with a boyfriend. We had his and her cats - Molly was "his" cat and Beauregard was my cat. When we broke up, I had no place to move that would allow me to take Beau, and seeing as how he and Molly had pair bonded, it made more sense for my ex to take the cats.
My next two roommates and my next boyfriend were also allergic to cats. I moved in with my cousin after my last relationship ended, and while she is also allergic to cats, she still had one: Gracie. Gracie loved cat nip and wet food, but was not what one would call a "lap cat." She tolerated my presence.
The day finally came when I was able to move in to my own apartment. That apartment would need a cat, so I adopted a little boy kitty that I immediately named Bustopher Jones. Bustopher was my baby boy. He would bring me toilet paper rolls that he "killed" and was my constant companion.
Bustopher Jones. RIP.
A few months after I brought little "Bookie" home, I noticed he wasn't eating enough. He was pooping outside of the litter box and had very little energy. A vet warned me that the story wasn't going to end well. We did what diagnostics I could afford, but we couldn't find any simple answers. Just after his first birthday, his health failed. He had feline leukemia. I took him to be put to sleep on my birthday. It was the hardest thing I've had to do.
But waiting for me back in my hometown was a little black kitten named "Bella." My brother and sister-in-law had adopted her but couldn't keep her. "She's sweet," my brother told me, "but she doesn't play much. I will say this, though: If you have a fly in the house, she'll kill it."
Broken-hearted me drove down to retrieve this little kitten. She was almost the spitting image of Bustopher. And despite never having met me, she was clinging to me from minute one.
On the drive back to Indianapolis, I renamed her "Lillith Electra." No cat of mine was going to be named after some ditz from "Twilight." She meowed quite a bit on the way to her new home. When we got in the door, I put the carrier down, opened the door, and waited for her to dash out and hide under a piece of furniture.
"There's not enough stuff to destroy."
Instead, she sauntered out, tail up and began calmly investigating. "Huh. Nice place. No kids? Sweet! I'm totally going to own this place." Lily was the exact opposite of Bustopher. She didn't settle down for a second. She was mouthy and destructive - and totally hilarious. She developed a "fuck you" look pretty early on and wasn't shy about letting guests know that this was her space, thankyouverymuch.
Meanwhile, I was working two jobs. Lily was bored. She let me know it whenever possible - but mostly when I was asleep. My bedroom closet was a major source of contention. I wanted it closed. She wanted it open - and she wanted to be the one to open it. Glass objects were broken. My hands were covered in scratches. Lily needed a playmate.
The problem was finding the time to adopt a kitten - and finding one with a personality that meshed well with Lily's. In May 2010, shortly after Lily turned 1, I called up the wonderful lady who had coordinated my adoption of Bustopher. She was devastated over the loss of Bustopher almost as much as I was. She told me that I could adopt a kitten for free and told me she had some 11-week-old kittens that would be ready to adopt out in about a week. I was a little afraid that Lily would maul a baby. Still, I was curious. I went over to her house and spotted a tan kitten named Carson that was full of energy. I sat down in the middle of the kitty pen and watched Carson. He was exactly like Lily - brash, adventurous, chatty.
But while I was sitting there, a little black ball of fur climbed into my lap, jumped on to my chest, put both front paws on my face and kissed me. How could I say no to that? I looked at the foster mom, and we both broke out into wide grins. I'd been chosen. Little Pierre was going to go home with me in a week.
I was giddy. I visited him once during the week and rubbed him with a piece of cloth to take home to Lily. She wasn't interested.
The day that I brought him home, I did something you should never do. I introduced them almost immediately. Lily was ... well, pissed. She'd sniff him and hiss. Pierre didn't mind. He curled up in my lap and fell asleep.
"Being this adorable is super exhausting. Mind if I snuggle?"
For a week, Lily would follow him around and sniff his butt. When he'd turn around to see what was going on, she'd hiss, swat and run away - completely and totally scared.
One morning during that first week, I was in the bathroom, and Lily was playing with a toy. Pierre marched in, picked up the toy, and marched out. Lily sat there in total silence for a split second, then let out a quick hiss.
That moment let me know I hadn't made a mistake. Lily was brash, but Pierre was brave.
Something wasn't quite right, though: the name. Pierre didn't exactly roll off the tongue. He also had a strange habit: suckling fingers. He did it whenever he could to whomever was around. He craved physical contact and loved to snuggle up on my chest.
So, Pierre became Chester "The Molester" Escargot Tirey.
I don't feel the need to adopt any more cats. These two are constantly on the move, constantly breaking my things, and constantly cracking me up. They have two completely different personalities.
Lily is a smart-ass (trust me on this one), a superb hunter and a diva. She even has her own walk - I call it her sassy pants strut. She puts her tail straight up and almost dances toward me. She is affectionate to no one but me.
Chester is a complete cuddle bug and is incredibly welcoming to anyone who comes into my apartment. He guards the refrigerator in case one of his lost toy mice tries to sneak out. He's certain there's something of import in a kitchen cabinet where I keep my wine glasses. The bathroom is a scary place.
And me? I just live here and try to be a good caretaker. I bore other people with my cat stories. I take random pictures of them both and I sing songs to them.
If I'm a crazy cat lady, so be it. They make me smile. And I'm hoping stories about them will make you smile and share your experiences with your "furbabies."
My little jerks - I mean, babies.