Cats – you either love them or you hate them, there is no middle ground.
I would say that I have owned many cats in my lifetime, but that is just the reversal of the truth. The cats have owned me.
Those of you who have never lived in a home with a cat cannot know the different personalities that different cats possess.
For the most part, they are arrogant creatures, fastidious in their grooming of themselves, opinionated, and very selective in offering their devotion.
About 10 years ago, our variegated mother cat presented us with another litter of kittens. They were a mixed lot not only in color, but also in breed. One was a white Siamese with china blue eyes, a large male cat that had the markings of a pure bred Siamese.
We had never seen such a cat in our neighborhood, so we were just as surprised as she was. This cat we named "Ming." He was strictly a man's cat. He tolerated me, but he adored my husband and my son.
When they came in and sat down to watch T.V., he immediately draped himself across their laps. I used the term "draped" advisedly, because he was so long that his head dangled on one side of their laps, while his hind legs and tail hung down on the other side. He was perfectly content to lie in such a fashion, and purred his hardest. 1 tried to persuade him to sit beside me on the couch if he would not sit on my lap. He politely sat there for a minute and got down and searched out the menfolk. I had never had a cat that absolutely would not love me the best, and it did something to my ego. 1 continued to love "Ming" and he continued to love J.C. and John. When he met his demise under the wheels of a car on the Sibley Road as all our yard cats eventually did, I cried just as hard as if he had loved me the best. The menfolk were very silent and 1 saw a glistening in their eyes, even though they would have denied they shed tears, too.
Our series of cats here on the Sibley Road started with the one we moved out here when we married. "
Toodlum" had been my mother's cat for many years, and he was just a part of our family. He had been neutered, but he still left on hunting expeditions periodically.
He would always come back home and' stand at the living room door and loudly announce that he had returned. His eyes were a luminous blue green and very large and expressive, and his fur was long and golden in hue.
We always talk to our cats in a conversational voice, no "kitty, kitty" stuff and no baby talk. After a few years of living here and waiting for "Toodlum" to return from his trips, we "always expected to hear him some night at the front door again.
When his absence extended to more than a few days, 1 became worried. We searched the neighborhood and inquired if anyone had seen him. He was not killed in the road. Later, we learned that a woman down the road from us had shot him, because she did not want her cat to have kittens.
Toodlum could not tell her he was "kitten proof. I grieved so much that it was several more years before 1 was willing to give my heart away again to a cat.
Down at the Ford place someone dropped off a yellow kitten that was friendly and needed a home. By then we had a little girl of about two or three.
She was ecstatic over the prospects of having a kitty-cat, which we named some appropriate boy name. When we were presented kittens by him/her we changed the name to "Trinket."
Our Spitz dog, named "Tippy" and "Trinket" became fast friends. Trinket offered a complete course in sex education all the way to having kittens as we looked out the kitchen window. She did not have the approval of State or the church, but it was a simple and easy way to explain many things to a little girl.
It made things simpler for me when in a couple of years we welcomed to our home a new baby, our son.
There were always cats, and always kittens each spring and sometimes more than just spring. We could not bear, to part with them.
The children gave them interesting names such as "Paraphernalia" and the little son named a batch of kittens after the Minister of Education and his family.
I am not sure that Truman Kerr was honored to have a little gray female kitten named for hhim, and of course, Tommy Kerr had his namesake, along with Jennifer and the other daughter.
My son explained that those were names for a good cat, not good names for a cat. As mother and daughter cats littered, at one time we had seventeen kittens, all with different personalities and all fed with canned cat food.
When my daughter's home burned the summer of 1990 they moved into the Lamplighter apartments while the home was being rebuilt. During that time their kitty "Allie" met a traveling salesman and when they returned home, she presented them with five kittens – not pretty but interesting. When they were not given away, we went over and loved them.
One in particular loved my son and climbed his pants leg each time we came. We adopted that one and took a sister to her, also, so that they would be company for each other. The loving kitten we named "Sissy" and the prettier one, if she was not friendly, we named "Pretty Kitty" and call her "P. K."
They are so much company for me. They each have a round bed, with one of the beds on a comer of my desk where Sissy sleeps and often watches me at work. As I work on my books, sometimes they both get into the bed and sleep there, facing me.
From time to time they check to see if I am still sitting at my desk. When I go to the kitchen to prepare a meal, Sissy sits upright in a captain's chair and drapes her front feet over the back, rests her chin on the chair back and supervises my cooking.
When I take my nap, both of them get on either side of me, wanting me to crook my arms and let them lie within the circle of my arms, with their heads resting on my shoulder, just like you would hold a baby. I am loved.
They were six years old last September, and the only time they talk (or you might call it meowing) is when their pan of "Kit and Kaboodle" is depleted or they have eaten their favorite flavor out of the pan of food. If their water is low again they will look into my face and tell me so, even walking over to the water faucet and looking at it.
When my phone rings and I am not here to answer it, my answering message plays. Sometimes they find the message annoying and they simply walk on the buttons until I am turned off.
Messing with buttons is something Sissy does well, and occasionally she has scared herself half to death when she turned on the radio, full blast.
As I write, Sissy is waiting for me to start working at my desk again, as she has already ensconced herself in her bed on my desk. I now know better than to leave my laser printer printing out a report.
Sissy thinks it is her responsibility to keep the papers from feeding into the printer and to keep them from coming out of the printer. I have inverted a wire dish drainer over the tray that receives the printed matter, but there is no way to stop her from sitting on the paper feed and preventing the paper from entering the printer.
She feels that it is her responsibility to supervise the laser printer but not the other printer that is on our other computer. She has such an intelligent look in her eyes and seems to understand what we say.
The other kitty is much prettier, but when you look-into her eyes you know that even though the "lights are on, but nobody is at home." In other words that one is a "ding-bat," but we love her anyway. I try to do what they want me to do because I want them to continue to love me.
When I arise at 4 or 5 in the morning, they begin their day's activities at that time, too.
If a rainstorm with thunder and lightning-occurs during the night, Sissy comes straight to my bedroom. She bounds upon the bed and then upon me. She wants to be right against my body when it thunders. She is deathly afraid of lightning and thunder.
They are such a part of my life that I would be desolate if I did not have them. Try giving your heart to a kitten sometime, it is wonderful!
Juanita Agan passed away in October, 2008 at the age of 85. She had been a Minden resident since 1935 and a columnist for the Press-Herald since 1995. A constant writer, Mrs. Agan had many stories written but unpublished. The Press-Herald will continue to publish these articles as long as they are submitted.