Had lunch with my friend Judy yesterday. She’s a cat person. She offers me snippets about the mischief her growing kittens get into.
I get a kick out of it, especially since I have none of the responsibility. When her two felines were very little, Judy says they were called “Blur” and “Smudge” because they moved so quickly, that was all you could see of them. Now, they enjoy getting into the recycling and shopping bags, but as cat lovers will, Judy smiles while relating their latest antics.
“Are you SURE it says CAT FOOD?”
My friend Hans was a cat person too. According to him, his last cat was no ordinary cat, but “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”. Hans wrote and called me regularly, so I got to follow the adventures and misadventures of Hans and his cat, Schatzi, which means “darling” in Vienna.
The pretty puss, for some reason, was homeless and showed up at Hans’s son’s house. His son already had a cat, “Kiwi”, a wife, and two little children, so Hans, who resisted for a week or so, finally told me he had to give in because “Schatzi the Beautiful” was just too lovely to be turned away. He decided that having a cat again so late in life was not absolutely and totally insane.
Truth be told, Hans never met a cat he didn’t like. On his visits to Vancouver, we would walk most mornings. Each time, every kitten we met received special attention — it was a given. I grew accustomed to standing patiently by as Hans pulled out his pocket-chain to dangle before little whiskered feline faces. They found that chain irresistible, which was probably why Hans carried it.
Hans fell head-over-heels in love with Schatzi, “the most beautiful cat in the world”, and I can attest to Schatzi’s beauty. Hans sent me a photograph to keep on my desk. He had a sleek white body accented by varied shades of brown on his ears and face; a distinctive off-centered white triangle sat on his aristocratic nose; myriad tones of brown covered his tail and legs, while he sported definite white booties of different lengths.
So it happened that after some years of being cat-less, Hans became cat-more. His life changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined. His calls and letters were a record of the ups-and-downs of what was obviously a tumultuous love affair. One early morning phone call from a distraught Hans advised me he was sure someone had kidnapped his beautiful cat.
“Why else,” he asked, “Would Schatzi not have come home last night?”
This was followed by a second frantic call the next morning. Hans was convinced someone had taken Schatzi. For the three days the felonious feline was on the loose, Hans was beside himself with concern. Finally, after Schatzi had apparently tired of meandering through the Hollywood Hills, the cat came back.
That was not the end of it. Schatzi was disciplined. He was placed under “house-arrest” for three whole days, which Hans felt was fitting in order to teach him a lesson. Schatzi must have learned which side his tuna was buttered on, because this daring escapade did not reoccur.
Letters reported more royal imprisonments, multiple visits to the hospital emergency ward, plus many pleasant hours with Schatzi happily ensconced on Hans’ lap as they watched soccer games together. The first emergency occurred when Hans, who had suffered several strokes and no longer had the manual dexterity he used to, opened his hand while opening a can of cat food. That bloody episode necessitated the first visit to the hospital. The hand was sewn up. This event was later repeated, but was reported to me somewhat sheepishly with an addendum of “Never-mind, it’s worth it!”
These mishaps didn’t make Hans regret his decision to adopt “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”. On the contrary, he seemed even more smitten than ever. He letters became glowing reports of adjustments made on both sides, of growing affection, intimacy and satisfaction with the relationship.
Now that both Hans and Schatzi are gone, they both remain tucked away in a corner of my heart and I remember them with pleasure — oh, and yes, I agree that Schatzi was indeed “the most beautiful cat in the whole wide world”.