Sunday, November 19, 2006

BFF: DaisyMae Maus and Me

Link to my blog: DaisyMae Maus and the Feline Americans

My students often ask where I’ve gotten my pets and my usual response is that they’ve just “shown up” and I’ve taken them in because no one else seemed interested in doing the right thing. I’ve loved and cared for each of these cats without favoring one over the others ... Until I met DaisyMae Maus. There are special animals, and then there’s DaisyMae. People anthropomorphize their pets and claim that they are their furry “kids.” DaisyMae is different. She’s not my furry child; she’s my friend. I value her friendship even more so than that of my human friends. We communicate on a very deep level; me with my voice and tummy rubs; she with her eyes, body language, and innate ability to sense when something is lacking. She’s been this way from the first moment that I met her. We bonded immediately as if we’d been together in a former life and had known each other forever.

DaisyMae Maus’s mother belonged to a woman living up the street who was futilely trying to raise eight children (and who was barely keeping her head above water) so she had little time for herself, let alone a pet. The mother cat, Patches, gave birth to three very cute kittens and died soon after due to poisoning. The kittens were left to fend for themselves against eight children who were alternately neglectful and cruel. They ate what they could find which was usually pizza crust or cheap dog food (Why not catfood? I have no idea.). Fortunately, the middle child who had some empathy for the kittens, knew that I had cats of my own, so he brought his kittens down to meet me so that he could ask for advice. His kittens found that they liked my attention and calmness, and would come running as soon as I arrived home from work each day. The boy had named them “Frisky,” “Fuzzball,” and “Spot.” “Frisky” became DaisyMae (DaisyMae told me that her name was “Maus,” so that became tacked on and is used as a nickname); “Fuzzball,” her brother, became Huckleberry Finn; and the other girl became Priscilla.

Nearly a year passed with daily visits. The kittens grew into well-adjusted cats who were spending more and more time at my house. I would sneak them into my house to bathe them, remove their fleas, and put ointment on Finny’s sunburned ears. I smuggled them to the mobile pet vet for shots and to have them altered. For all intents and purposes, I was caring for the neighbor’s pets as if they were my own ... and each evening, the middle child would come to collect his cats and usher them home. Little did he know that they were climbing out the window and coming back to sleep on my patio.

DaisyMae Maus was becoming the most attached and the most fiercely committed to me. I taught her to come to me by making a “kiss-kiss” sound. Where ever she was, she’d immediately stop what she was doing and come running to my side. She’d climb up the chainlink fence each night so that she could sleep on top of the metal storage shed outside my bedroom window. Hers was the last face I saw before I went to bed and the first face I saw each morning. She’d scooch herself up against the window screen so that I could pet her fur through the screen and she’d purr the most delicious, throaty purr I’d ever heard ... But as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t bring her and her siblings in to live with me because they didn’t belong to me.

The neighbors began making preparations to move to Oregon and I was devastated. They were going to take the cats away where they’d most certainly meet violent ends. As the moving van got packed, I waited for the middle child to come and collect his pets. Darkness fell, yet the cats stayed on my patio. The tension was palpable and I silently prayed that they would abandon at least Huckleberry Finn and DaisyMae Maus as I knew that Priscilla belonged to the mother. And I was right. The moving van drove away without my two patio dwellers. They’d been abandoned.

After the red tail lights disappeared around the corner, I scooped up both cats and brought them inside ... to stay. I’d never seen two cats more grateful to be indoors and loved. That first night, DaisyMae Maus slept at the head of my bed right next to my pillow and purred non-stop.

Both lived happily in my household with the other Feline Americans until Huckleberry Finn’s death in May of 2005. Since they were birthmates and amazingly close, I was worried that DaisyMae might mourn her brother and become depressed as some closely bonded cats will do. I needn’t have worried. DaisyMae cuddled with me and we grieved together.

As you’ve likely learned from the contents of her blog, DaisyMae Maus is opinionated and bossy, but she truly does care about her housemates, the Feline Americans. She’s still my “Beautiful Baby Girl” and she still spends each night sleeping beside my pillow purring her deep, comforting purr.

I’m certain that I’ll know many more cats in my lifetime, but none will affect me as completely as DaisyMae Maus. She is like no other. She is my best friend.



Blogger Skeeeeezix the Cat said...

I'm so glad yoo added yer storey. It made my face leek, it was so sweet. I'm glad DaisyMae ended up with yoo!

7:39 PM  
Blogger tiggerprr said...

I'm all misty. It's amazing how much they affect us, isn't it? I'm so happy they found you. I can't believe, no matter how many times I sadly hear it, that people actually abandon any animal. :(

9:41 AM  
Blogger Jake and Bathsheba said...

That's the best kind of abandonment - right into your wonderful loving home.

~J&B's Mom

10:19 AM  

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