Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Tail of Two Kitties

Today's guest post is by Jo-Ann.
Em and me found them in the spare room.
We usually never noticed the spare room. It was just a door we bolted past on our way to the kitchen. Except one day, there was a note taped to the door saying to be careful if we went in. What else would we do? I was expecting a stack of boxes to tumble down when we pulled the door open. But it was just the normal mess.
“Look!” Em squeaked.
Two tiny faces with huge eyes stared at us over the side of a box, before ducking away.
We rushed to them, and took one each. They looked like twins with tabby stripes and white socks. One could fit on my palm. It seemed to be made of air and fur. Its heart tap-tap-tapped under toothpick ribs.
“Awww, little babies!” gushed Em. It looked terrified when she brought her face close to it, and struggled to get out of her hands. She put it on the floor, and it ran for cover. Under her skirt.
“I don’t think they’ve had much to do with people before,” she said, laughing. “This one doesn’t get that my head and legs belong to the same person.”
I reckon we must have looked like giants crossed with skyscrapers to them.
By the time Dad came home we’d tried to feed them milk, but they’d stuck their faces right in the bowl and snorted and spluttered. Em reckoned they were too young to drink proper. “Might drown,” she’d said, and went to look for an eye dropper.
Except when she found one, she changed her mind. Could have been used for medicine, and that might poison them – even if we washed it. By that time I’d got a better idea. I dipped my finger in the milk and let the rough tongue do its job. Talk about keen! Once my fingertip was shiny, it nipped my finger with its tiny teeth, looking for more. The other started to get annoyed – it could probably smell the milk – so I juggled one kitten per hand. Which was fine when they were drinking, but as soon as I took my fingers away to get more milk, they got a wild look, like they was scared the food had vanished.
Dad came home and we rushed to tell him how great it was he’d got us kittens, but he shook his head. He’d found ‘em, abandoned, and dropped them off home first ‘coz he had to rush to his next job. He was gonna take ‘em to a shelter. Sorry, but we weren’t going to keep them.
Em and me agreed on one thing - no way were they going to the shelter. We’d seen stuff on the news, about how most strays got put down because nobody wanted them. That was never gonna happen!
After a few days of solid whining, Dad forgot about the shelter, and after a few more days he forgot about them sleeping in the laundry. Me and Em had one cat each, purring us to sleep.
Once they’d figured out that our heads and legs belonged to the one person each, they climbed up our jeans to let us know they wanted something. One kitten per leg. You’d pick one lot of claws out of your jeans and gently put it down, and the other would be halfway up your other leg.
Em named them Artemis and Apollo. Stupid names, but it seemed to fit the stories of a wild sister and brother who were gods or something. I wanted Itchy and Scratchy, but she won the toss. In the end I called them Artie and Pol.
Every time my friends dropped by, they sounded like those aunties who go on about how much you've grown. Except those kittens really had grown. Heaps. They stopped fitting in your palm. They hurt when they climbed our legs, and they only stopped doing it after we howled and jumped.
Me and my friends liked to play a game with a small mirror. We’d make the reflection jump up and down, all over the wall, and Pol went nuts trying to catch it. He could jump like there were trampolines over the floor. He’d reach half way up the wall before landing back down without catching nothing. His face looked confused, frustrated, wondering why he could never get his paws on that shiny thing. He never got sick of hunting it, and my friends never got sick of watching him.
Pol was bigger than his sister and liked telling her who’s boss. Anything Artie had was his. We had to feed them separately.
“Can’t believe he’s so nice to everybody and so mean to his sister!” I said once, and Em smirked and asked me if that reminded me of anybody. Had no idea who she was talking about.
I wish I had a photo of the times Pol and Artie were sitting together on the window sill, looking outside, and he’d put his paw around her shoulder. It looked real lovey-dovey, but I knew the truth. He wanted her sunny place all to himself, and knew he’d be in troub if he started a fight. So instead, he’d start by sitting real close to her. I could see Artie getting annoyed, by the way her tail flicked. But she put up with it. He’d ramp up the annoyance by putting his paw around her shoulders and start to lick her face. And when I say lick, I mean scrub, real rough. Scrub, scrub, scrub until Artie’d had enough and swiped him. But ‘coz of his paw being where it was, he had the advantage, and the fight was over before it begun. A few r’orws later, and Artie’d stalk off, looking disgusted.
Yeah, Pol  was mean, and I’d tell him off, but I knew he didn’t believe me. Coz I was thinking how clever it was for him to come up with such a sneaky plan. He was smart and cute and he knew it. Smartest cat ever.
Pol was a year old when I came home to find him lying in the gutter, looking as though he was asleep. At first, I couldn’t tell which cat it was, but when I came close, I could tell it was him. I couldn’t bring myself to touch him. The guy down the road saw, came over and checked him. “Sorry, kid,” he said.
He offered to take him away, but I couldn’t let him. Instead, he brought a towel and we wrapped him and I took him to the backyard. I dug and dug and dug. It felt good. It was something I could do for him. The last thing I’d ever do for my cat.
Artie came and sniffed the bundle in the towel. I wished it was her instead, but then I felt sorry, coz it was her brother too, and hugged her. Even though he was mean to her, they still curled up together when it got cold and cleaned each other in a nice way.
By the time Em and Dad come home, I’d got the hole deep. We all cried and told each other silly stories about him. Then we put him in and covered him with dirt and that was that.
After a few months, Artie’s personality changed. She became more like him, confident like. She’d talk and play more, like she hadn’t been allowed to when Pol was around. She even figured out how to open doors (I’m sure Pol would’ve too, if he’d been around long enough). I still missed Pol, but got to know Artie better. Artie would always be Em’s cat, but I sometimes gave her a reflection to chase up the wall. She never jumped as high as Pol did, but I’d still have a laugh. Even though it hurt and always would.

(Jo-Ann doesn't have photos of Pol or Artie. The accompanying pics are of Eowyn and Galadriel, Phoenix's dear friends who've long since passed over the Rainbow Bridge)

If you'd like to tell your animal-related story, send it to phoenixsullivan @

1 comment:

lexcade said...

Awww, what a sweet story! They remind me of brother-sister kitties we had a few years ago. Socks was way bigger than Midnight, but he was a good big brother. He'd put his arm around her shoulders too...

Great post, Jo-Ann! Thank you for sharing :)