Quite a few years ago we had some friends over for a picnic at my parents’ house. As we sat around after eating we started sharing family stories about the pets and other animals in our lives. It seems that our stories got more and more wild, because by the time we were done our guests didn’t believe a word of them. But they were all true!
My first animal memory is of the pets we had in our first home: a cat named “Mickey” and a parakeet named “Butch”. They must have both died around the same time, because my “memory” of them is of them both going out the door, never to be seen again. I wonder how my mom explained their leaving to me, to have that sweet picture in my head. The only other things I remember about Mickey, are that he was dark – gray, I think – and the size of a panther. I was only two or three at the time, he was probably almost as tall as I was!
The next cat we had was Jinxy, an orange tabby. Where do I start, to tell you about this amazing cat? He was so gentle, that when he went outside the birds there on the ground wouldn’t even fly away. He had a doe-friend that would stand in the yard and stamp her feet until we let him out for a visit. She even brought her fawn to show him. The big bulldog and black lab that lived across the street, however, wouldn’t mess with him. I remember seeing them back away from a spitting, arching Jinx.
The only time he ever scratched me (and I was little, so I’m sure there was plenty of motive and opportunity) was the time I tried to dress him up in doll clothes. Well, it worked in the story books.
Jinxy also had a mischievous side. He liked to hide behind the furniture, then jump out and grab your leg as you went by. You’d jump, of course, but when you looked down there would be nobody there. One time my parents were painting the hallway and had laid newspaper down to protect the floor. Jinxy looked that over, then circled through the kitchen, picked up speed in the dining room, more on the carpet in the living room, sat down on the first sheet of paper and slid the whole length of the hall. Yee-hah! Then there was the Christmas tree incident: he almost got the star, and Mom managed to rescue the tree before it toppled over completely.
Jinxy even won over my dad, who started out as no lover-of-cats. Cats don’t accept disdain – they see it as a challenge. When Dad was reading the paper with his legs crossed, Jinxy would squeeze through the crook of his knee and purr at him. Jinxy knew just who needed to be converted. My brother turned out to be allergic to cats and dogs, so when Jinxy went the way of all things, we had no other cats in the house until he left for college. There would, however, be plenty of other critters in our lives.