Our (mostly) white cat, Mrs. Marbles came to us through her own choosing. We didn't necessarily choose her. At least not at first.
I first discovered this scrawny cat when opening my car door just after arriving home from work. All tangled up in my legs before fully exiting the car. One of the rare jobs in the past where I wasn't biking to the office. Wow, that has to be about 10+ years ago. She appeared two or three nights in a row, and she was growing on me already.
"Meroooow"! She was seducing me for warmth and vittles, but I resisted. Surely this little one will find its way home? Besides, I already had an old cranky cat inside. Isn't one enough? Eventually I left some food and water outside the back door. She inhaled it instantly.
Above: First photo. Loitering outside the back door. April 29 2008.
For the next 3 or 4 days I was undecided about this strange cat, and was hoping she'd figure things out on her own. Yet she was hanging around the house day and night.
On a warm spring evening – way past sunset - I realized how wild street-cat life can be.
I heard commotion and squabbling outside. Eventually I got up to see her chasing a group of baby birds around the front yard. Front paw outstretched, she had one pinned down by the tail feathers.
Apparently she had climbed a tree and knocked them all out of the nest. On the ground, she was having a wild party chasing them around. Mother bird was flying around hysterically.
In an impulsive decision, I flew out the front door to separate cat from chicks & scooped her under one arm. She looked up at me without any struggle. Nothing but a quiet "mew".
We both went inside and the rest was history.
She spent the next few days living in my bathroom to keep her and the other cat separated.
Meanwhile I made a bunch of "Found Cat" posters for the neighborhood. I sort of knew this effort wouldn't work, and wasn't too upset about the fact that it didn't. For me and Virginia, the little one won us over.
The first visit to the vet revealed some of her story. Female. Spayed. About 5 or 6 yrs old. Not chipped. A BB (as in BB gun) was discovered lodged in her hind quarters. All this plus the fact that she escaped or was dumped by her former owner - gave us sympathy for her situation. A rough beginning.
The transition from street hoodlum to our indoor house cat was not smooth.
She ripped into anything her claws would allow, including my favorite leather chair. Used to roaming, climbing and hunting, days of couching and grazing on a food bowl were not interesting to her in the least.
We discussed this with our vet. He gave us permission to let her out, but shall be fed indoors only. Once she is inside eating, keep her in for the night. Outside the next day - only after she had breakfast, not until after 8am.
We installed a lockable kitty door in the human kitchen door. Virginia taught her to paw and nose at the bottom to push it open. Her chip activated the electronic lock in the door.
Our new system worked, her outside time caused less chaos inside.
Above: She knows the drill to get in and out. But would rather wait for human assistance.
From that point, we enjoyed a long stretch of a predictable routine that included coming home from work to find her half waiting-half sleeping on her favorite outdoor table. Happy to see her humans, she never failed to follow you inside for dinner.
If she wasn't sleeping, her way of displaying happiness upon your arrival was the classic "roll-over-back and forth-upside-down-while meowing". So cute.
I'd say these were the glory years for Mrs. M.
Above: Happy to see the humans are home again.
But eventually her increased boldness gave us a few frightful episodes.
Missing after dark more than a few times, she always returned by herself in her own sweet time. Strolling in through her kitty door with the attitude of Ms. Piggy: "Moi"??
On time, squirming under my right arm while steering the bike with my left - I snatched her from beneath some bushes the next street over.
On the ride home, I'll never forget her imitation of a dog with its head outside the car window. Priceless.
We've spent a sizable sum on replacement collars. Often, we'd realize her break-away collar was gone, replace it, then find it missing the next week. I've scoured the surrounding areas many times. I never found a single one.
The outdoor drama subsided over time. I made the property perimeter more secure & harder for her to get out. She was starting to age at this time, so was less concerned about roaming & mostly concerned about finding a napping spot on a deck chair or her little "brushing table".
Sometimes we'd catch her burrowed deep in the backyard mustard weed snoozing away in the dirt and bugs.
Above: The brushing station. Complete with bedding and… pillow?
Marbles loves cardboard boxes. Almost more than food and water, she earned the nickname "Boxy Lady".
On days when we get things delivered to the house, she is so excited to climb, sniff & claw at anything that's packaged in cardboard. Once opened, she'll jump in even before removing the contents.
Packing paper, foam peanuts, tissue, it all ends in a complete frenzy. And finally, the empty box on the floor will be her new spot for the next month. Even if it’s half her size, she'll find a way to squeeze in. So cute.
Above: Why do we keep buying useless kitty toys from the pet store? Feline happiness comes in paper discards.
So, why am I writing this?
These days Mrs. M. isn't doing too well. A long time stomach condition has slowly caught up to her.
Thin and frail she looks like a fragment of her younger days. She isn't herself; you can see it in her eyes and sadly I think this is the beginning of the end.
Yet we don't discount our ill pets any less than our human loved ones. We are just as concerned. Just as sad. Just as hopeful. Just as attentive.
Her impact on our home life has been monumental. Same for all the little critters we've been blessed with.
Given all this, I wanted to share her story before, not after.
Mrs. Marbles continues to give us lots of joy. Little meow's when we say hello. Bedtime snuggles & purring. Running (actually, walking these days) to us when it's time to come in from the back yard.
And yes, even the surprises she drops by the kitchen: both dead and alive, whole and in pieces.
We sometimes forget that our little friends have such short lives. No matter how much we feel like they'll be with us forever (that first time we bring them home) they accelerate through their own universe as it temporarily parallels our own.
And we should pay attention to this, because it's the daily reminder that indeed: Life is Short. We can thank our pets to teach us this lesson.
And when their time is up and they pass on, I'd like to think they take a chunk of us with them. We wouldn't want it any other way, would we? A bit of us by their side forever.
However, something that’ll live on forever is this thought: She ended up being one of the lucky ones. How many strays that run the streets get a second chance?
From wild to mild, we gave her a safe, loving home. Especially with someone like Virginia providing most of the care. I've mentioned this before: Any animal under her watch will live longer and be happier. Mrs. Marbles is no exception.
So while they are still here, while they can still wag their tail and follow you around from the kitchen to the couch, and paw at you for this or that, realize that this is what the good life is all about: Best buds with your furry little friend.
Above: Love and attention from the best of the best.
If you've made it this far, wow, you made it, thanks! Got K-9 or feline's at home? What do you love about them?
Cat fans: More pictures and video here:
If you'd like to add your thoughts, comments are encouraged below. The comment password is: life is good