I have a new cat. She took over my house and life in July with such rapidity that it was like being tangled up in a factory full of loose yarn. Indeed, the moment I sat down and picked up a crochet project that required a certain amount of attention to detail and diligence on my part, the cat made a swan dive into my lap. Seconds later, she cuffed at the crochet thread, and in another instant she had it nicely saturated with cat spit.
It felt like a baptism.
The cat came with the name Mittens, but I kept calling her by my old cat’s name, Sissy. Thus, this feline’s new name is Sissy Too.
Sissy Too came to me through the kindness of neighbors. She had been an indoor cat, made good on an escape she no doubt had been plotting for weeks, could not be captured and ended up on my doorstep. I thought she was a stray. Being my mother’s daughter (I’m talking a lot of cat indulgence history here), I gave the cat a little treat and a little pat, then I gave her a meal, and one morning when I opened the door she trotted in and took over.
After a day or two, it dawned on me that the cat might belong to my neighbors. I checked with them and they said, yes, the cat was theirs, but she wasn’t happy living with several other cats and a puppy. If I wanted the cat, I could have her. Done deal.
Of course, by that time, it wasn’t about me adopting a cat. The cat already had adopted me. All I had to do was foot the vet bills, provide a litter box, set down food and water bowls and stand back.
Sissy Too is a mostly Maine coon cat with pretty tortoise markings. She has a lovely plume of a tail. There are two tiny white spots on each of her rear toes and a white patch under her chin. Long curving tufts of white fur grow out of her ears, and the spaces between her toes are padded with thick fur. She purrs, but so quietly the only way I know she’s purring is because her chest vibrates. When I come home from work, she greets me at the door with little chirping noises. She rarely meows.
The honeymoon, of course, is over, and Sissy Too and I are trying to work things out so we both know who is the boss of what. Well, clearly, she is pretty much the boss of everything — witness the old towel on a bureau where she likes to roost at night. Note the box lined with another old towel and tucked into a cool, dark corner. Consider the fact that she has taken over a tote bag — also lined with an old towel — where I once stashed scarves. And the lower shelf in the bathroom closet, and the steamer trunk by the east window — if the space offers comfort or seclusion, it’s hers.
Sissy Too has a highly developed instinct for finding hidey-holes where she can sleep in boneless bliss. For that reason, the spare room is off-limits — all those boxes, stacks of fabric and skeins of yarn would be like an amusement park for any cat. But there is nothing I can do about denying her access to the cellar, where the litter box is kept. Down there, she leaps atop the ductwork and clanks around sounding like a robo-feline is on the loose.
Sissy Too has learned to come when I whistle, a trick I have taught many a cat regardless of age (you actually can teach an old cat new tricks, especially if a stinky, fishy treat is part of the deal).
She also is learning that cat spit, my lap and yarn do not mix. So far, instead of relaxing in the space between me and the chair arm, she snubs me whenever I pick up the knitting or crocheting. To her credit, she has figured out that if my hands are otherwise occupied, I probably will not, at that precise moment, put down my work to pat her. But the minute my lap is empty, she is draped across my legs, her delicate paws engaged in that age-old cat occupation — knitting.