Kitzwallace is a tortoiseshell cat. Not the sort of tortoiseshell that looks like ‘brindle’, but the orange, black and white, patchy sort. My one son thinks she is the prettiest cat in the world. That is because she has a dainty, sweet little face and tidily places her tail over her front paws when she sits down.
She loves his lap. He cannot touch her because his lungs will object. But she seems to love him most of all. And WILL seek his lap.
She has a way of staring at a person, not in a manic way, but in a narrow-eyed kind of gaze. And when I catch her eye, she will blink in slow motion, just like my mother did when we were children and looked her way for reassurance if ever we found ourselves in a strange situation. She would wink at us with both her eyes, squeezing them for a full second. Kitzwallace does that and I find it uncanny. There is something that cat knows and I wish I knew what it was.
Occasionally she comes to sit with me while I am watching a movie. She will perch with her back to the television and gaze at me, for a long time. And then she will shut her eyes and stay that way, as if asleep, still facing me.
She came to us just over 13 years ago. She was a teenage kitten and just arrived at our house, which was on a different farm then. Tame, clean and hungry. No neighbours had lost a kitten and we concluded that some cowardly person had come from town and dropped her off along the road…probably hoping that she would survive. Strange but true. There are people who live in town who do that. In my life, I have seen this several times. How do those people sleep at night? But Kitzwallace found her way to us and was such a joy to our two boys. They were sure that God had sent her. Maybe this is true.
In the 13 years that she has been with us, she has had several lives. I lost count and am not sure whether we have passed nine or not. I am too nervous to check. I have cried many tears when I believed I was having to say good-bye. We’ve been to the Vet many times. There is never a known cause for her troubles, yet somehow she rallies and returns. I have resolved to stop crying and just enjoy the days we have, knowing they could end at any time. She seems to be in charge of her destiny and all I can do is facilitate the journey.
She eats with the delicacy of a spoiled princess. Only a little food at a time. And she will return to her bowl when she feels ready for another nibble but because her feline housemate Katja is a very greedy, opportunistic cat who is obsessed with eating, she will find it empty. So the routine is to feed her only a small amount and if she doesn’t eat it all, to put her bowl in the cupboard. In any case, she gets given food whenever she asks and she has never been obese in her life. (Darling Katja, even though on very strict rations, has a way of strolling that sets her large stomach elegantly swaying like a hanging bridge. She regularly supplements her meals with rodents. Yet she complains that she is about to expire of starvation. But her complaints fall on deaf ears. For her own good. Only the house sitter has ears that are not so deaf.)
The way that Kitzwallace announces she needs “a little something” is quite something. First of all, the voice she uses makes me think she is under the impression it is a very beguiling, irresistible sort of voice. A pitiful, whispery croak. There is nothing rude and demanding about the voice. But it gets you right behind the knees. Secondly, her choice of TIMING. Bizarre. I have found that the minute I am in the process of slipping cracked eggs into the pot of boiling water to poach, or grinding coffee and filling the mocha pot and setting it onto the stove to percolate, all of which is a process of concentration, precision and timing, is the minute she requires more food. And how do you concentrate when your cat is sitting in the doorway, with her tail neatly laid across her paws, and croaking at you like Marianne Faithful?
So the other morning, when I was intently busy making coffee and this little croaky voice came at me from the doorway and I was trying to shudder away my irritation and impatience, a big thought occurred to me.
Of course Kitzwallace did not understand that I was occupied with something from which I could not tear myself away. Of course she didn’t have the slightest idea that coffee was being ground, an operation was underway and that timing of the whole process was crucial. No indeed. Of course not.
Kitzwallace does not know anything about making coffee.