Burton on the Bay
Vol. 9, No. 41
October 11-17, 2001
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Long and slender, 2E walks with a prance, her exceptionally long-haired tail held high, and constantly announces her presence.

My New Cat

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she isn’t amusing herself with me more than I am with her?
— Michael De Montaigne

Anyone whose relationship to his/her feline is anything beyond ownership with the intent only to rid the house or barn of rodents can appreciate the words of De Montaigne. A cat, any cat, might not have within it the need to please and serve as does its canine counterpart. But a cat, any cat, independent as it is, seeks companionship on an equal basis.

And only on an equal basis.

Who can question the independence of a cat? Certainly not I, and certainly not you. What non-human creature, basically so dependent yet seeking of companionship on its own terms, is there that can match puss for ambivalence in its true definition?

Walking in Frieda’s Pawprints
Which brings us to 2E, the all-white longhair that now resides at the Burton household, where she arrived last January to ‘replace’ Frieda Lawrence Burton, who lived here for 14 years before her kidneys failed. No cat could ever replace her.

2E came nervous and confused in the arms of daughter Heather, who was intent on easing the haunting void when Frieda moved on across the Rainbow Bridge where folklore has it pets await the arrival of their human companions. Heather figured a young cat — a white female, as was Frieda — would help lift the melancholy that prevailed in the household.

Cats have a way of filling niches intended for them, and 2E fulfilled expectations. When she crossed the threshold, her past was a complete mystery. Much more of a mystery than I figured at the time. But is it not true that everyone loves a mystery?

From The Lucky Ones, a feline adoption program in Howard County, came 2E, with nothing in her records to give even a glimpse of her past, not even a name — only that she was a year old and altered prior to placement at the facility. Yet, somehow, her record lists her as a male.

Fortunately, Heather can distinguish a boy cat from a girl cat, but she didn’t bring this to the attention of the folks at The Lucky Ones. 2E was the only white female available and she wanted, without any fuss, to get the papers signed, take possession and deliver her to her new home.

The Mystery of 2E
2E settled in quickly, more like a cat that has been around for a long time than a frisky yearling, which brings up another curious aspect of our new arrival’s past. I had expressed definite preference for a white female kitten, nothing older than a year or two at most.

Nothing against older cats, but I wanted a cat that would outlive me. No way did I want to risk once again putting an old sick cat down. Doing so with Frieda was too unsettling.

And guess what?

Several weeks after 2E arrived she became lethargic and didn’t eat much, so she went for a visit to Pasadena Animal Hospital, where she stayed overnight. The following morning came a call from Dr. Bob Etter, who questioned 2E’s age. She had a thyroid condition, the likes of which he had not seen previously in any cat under eight to 10 years of age.

So much for 2E being a young cat. But there was good news. The thyroid condition could be treated with pills, one or two a day, forever. But there was bad news, too. Getting 2E to swallow a pill proved to be virtually impossible. She has a mind of her own.

Medicine Shoppe pharmacist Leon Vandenberg came to the rescue. He pulverized pills in cod liver oil, provided a syringe and now 2E, her mouth held open (not easy, but doable), gets a squirt of medication once a day. Then leaving a trail of squeals, fusses and indignation, she scampers off. But not for long. She is a forgiving cat — until the morrow when it’s medicine time again.

We Are Her Servants
Despite the daily medication routine, 2E has settled in, becoming a member of the family. Yet, unlike Frieda, much as she likes attention, she insists on periodic spells of independence, which reminds one of the words of Desmond Morris who wrote in Catwatching (1986):

The domestic cat is a contradiction. No animal has developed such an intimate relationship with mankind, while at the same time demanding and getting such independence of movement and action.

In short, dogs live with people; cats board with people. P.G. Wodehouse summed it up in words that can be appreciated by all who “board” cats:

Cats as a class, have never completely got over the snootiness caused by the fact that in ancient Egypt they were worshipped as gods.

So like a goddess, 2E of the one green eye and one blue reigns in this household. Long and slender, she walks with a prance, her exceptionally long-haired tail held high, and constantly announces her presence. She is the most vocal domestic animal I have ever seen; no, make that heard. And 2E makes sure she’s heard, sometimes at the most inappropriate times.

Every morning without fail between 4:30 and 5:00, she will walk the perimeter of the bed, around and around, meowing loudly. Nothing will stop her short of opening a can of cat food, and the meows don’t stop until the dish is presented.

But all this is forgotten, forgiven, while I am reading the morning paper, she nestles in my lap and purrs.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly