Saturday, January 21, 2012

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty...

Yeah, you know where I'm going with that.

♫...little ball of fur...Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr, purr, purr...♫

What can I say, I'm a fan of The Big Bang Theory, of Sheldon Cooper's strange antics and his bizarre "mother figure" fascination with Penny, the girl across the hallway, who, when paired with his roommate Leonard Hofstadter, make a strange little mother/father/child family dynamic that's cute in its own obscure little way.

But I digress...the soft kitty I'm speaking of today is not the one of Sheldon's-sick-so-Penny-must-sing-Soft-Kitty song fame. Nope, it is my own soft kitty, Miscellaneous, aka Mizzy, Moo-Moo, or The Miz.

Mizzy is 9 years old, will be 10 later this year. I got her while I was pregnant with my daughter, who will also be 10 this year. My husband was working a lot of really long shifts of overtime and our schedule with my stepson was 4 days on 4 days off, so I spent a majority of my time alone. It was a very lonely time in my life, if I'm truly honest, because I had moved hundreds of miles away from my hometown, I didn't really know anyone here except for my husband and his son and a few of his relatives, but at best, they were still simply acquaintances, but not friends.

I missed my own family and all my friends and we live in the boonies, so that just added to the melancholy. I hadn't yet given much thought to picking up my writing again and pursuing it because I still didn't believe in myself enough and so I found myself isolated and more lonely for companionship than I'd ever been in my entire life. So I asked my husband what he thought of me getting a cat.

So, we went looking for kittens. I was about 7 months pregnant and we went to a pet store. They had expensive Himalayan kittens and Siamese, but the ones we could afford were all yellow striped or solid, but they had smooshed faces. You know the kind of cats I'm talking about, it looks like someone punched their noses into their face. An overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety came over me and I told my husband I didn't want one of them. We left the building and before I could open my door and get in our, at the time, Safari van, I burst into tears, squalling. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him,

"If I don't want ones of those kittens because they're ugly, what's going to happen if our baby's ugly? I'M GOING TO BE A HORRIBLE MOTHER!"

He tried to soothe my worries, but I still felt so guilty for leaving behind one of those kittens. A few days later, a guy my husband worked with called and said his neighbors had some kittens that were about 7-8 weeks old and weaned and asked if we'd want to come out and see them. So we went, way out in the country, further out past where we live.

The family's children had tentatively named her Jelly because at the time the cartoon PB & J Otter was very popular. I took one look at her and I KNEW she was MY cat. She had the same marble markings as a cat my family had when I was growing up-

We had named him Marblehead because of his markings, but somehow he became known as Poo Poo Kitty.
(see image below)
He was a good tom cat who showed up one day after Thanksgiving, got treated to leftover turkey and was with our family for about 7-9 years after that, I've honestly lost track. He went outside to take care of his business, but he loved staying in the house and he even had a favorite chair, the yellow floral wingback chair my mom has in the living room. He was smart too, would come looking for you and meow when he needed to go outside. Sometimes he'd disappear for a while, off tomcatting, but he'd come home, until one day he just didn't. We figure he either found a new home or he died.

So, when I laid eyes on "Jelly" I knew she was my cat. I held her in my lap the entire way home and named her Miscellaneous—Mizzy for short. I got the idea for the name from a favorite writer, Bonnie McCafferty. She had a book out in the early 1990s called Smiling through the Apocalypse, which was a compilation of articles she wrote for newspapers, I believe. It's a hard to find book, even used copies on Amazon don't have a single image of the cover, though I do have the book. She had a cat named Miscellaneous who passed away, but her articles about her cats, being single, life, her guru, etc, were poignant and moved me and so I was moved to name my cat that.

Mizzy is a puzzle at times. She still loves to play on occasion, loves the laser pointer we got her. She scoops her cat food from her bowl onto the floor as though her paw is a ladle. In fact, her food and water bowls are divided by my photo shelf in the kitchen for that very reason. When she was little, she would scoop it over into her water bowl, just to leave soggy cat food floating in it and then she wouldn't drink her water at all.

She tries to meow the word "water" when she needs more and also pulls her bowl out into the kitchen floor in my path so I will see it. She loves scrambled eggs and chicken and gets VERY talkative if she smells it. She stretches out on the couch in front of me, belly-to-belly when I'm relaxing watching TV and touches my face with her paw. I swear her purr has gotten louder as she's aged and there are many Saturday mornings after my husband has left for work that the cat nudges open the bedroom door and gets up on the bed to lay with me, purring loudly, pawing and kneading my arm like a kitten at the momma cat's teat. Sometimes I swear she's more like a baby than a cat. She sometimes acts as though she knows what I say to her and I love her for that unspoken sense of understanding that passes between us when she makes eye contact with me.

She's not a great mouser by any means, but I have to admit- she surprised me today. We've had mice issues in the past couple of weeks and I've caught 4 on sticky traps. I hate mice. They're just so nasty. Blech! The thing that got me? I was talking to my mom yesterday and told her that I caught 4 and that Mizzy tried to meow and take wide-eyed credit for the first one, though she had nothing to do with it. I then said, she's not been doing her job as cat of the house.

This morning she proved me wrong- in the living room beside the recliner was a dead mouse- right next to MY socks I kicked off yesterday evening. If that's not telling, I don't know what is. She had a point to prove either way- Yes, I take back what I said about her not being a good mouser and, it's my understanding that when a cat brings you a present, it's not so much a gift as a "note" about the fact that you, as the human, don't know how to hunt properly.

Yeah, well, I still caught 4 to her 1.


Judy Alter said...

Taryn, I know what you mean about the good feeling of blogging almost every day about whatever comes into your mind. I think it's a great way to make friends among your readers and besides it's fun to do. Glad you're back to--I'll follow you.
Loved your piece about Mizzy. I just lost my 19-year-old cat, and I swear sometimes I feel him walking on my bed--my daughter-in-law said, "Maybe he is!"

Taryn Raye said...

Thanks for stopping by Judy. Much appreciated!

I don't doubt that your cat may still be around. They quietly co-exist with us (and sometimes not so quietly)so I can only imagine the separation is felt deeply from both sides. {{{hugs}}}

Ruth J. Hartman said...


Thanks for sharing about your cats. I enjoy hearing about cats' individual personalites. One of ours looks like yours. The other, I swear sometimes when she meows it sounds like "Mama".

Taryn Raye said...

Thanks for stopping by Ruth! Love my kitty. They are great, aren't they? When Miz is begging for chicken, it almost sounds like "chicken"- it's usually very pitchy and more demanding, different from when she's simply being curious.

JM said...

Te picture of your older cat reminds me of one we used to have. His name was Animal, and he was awesome. He had such character. We moved one year and I really don't think he liked the new house. He disappeared and we never saw him again. I felt so bad.
Now we hanve Prints. He's a white cat with tiger striped spots. On his back, he has 5 perfect spots in the shape of your fingers if you reach down and grab him. He was supposed to be a mouser, but I think he only gets the ones that are trying to commit suicide. Stupid thing plays with them to death, and leaves them for the dog to eat.
Thanks for telling us about Mizzy. Enjoy her.

JM said...

Love the Big Bang reference by the way, although I really dislike that song on the show. Sometimes I think Sheldon just needs slapped.

Taryn Raye said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a bit about your cats, JM! The Soft Kitty song can wear thin as can Sheldon! I do have to say though that if I had to pick a really annoying sitcom character right now that needs slapped and often is Phil Dunphy on Modern Family. Sometimes I just can't imagine there are really people that annoying in the world, but then I remember, yeah, there are! LOL