The current herd of cats in the Hoyt household consists of four feline masters:
Miranda, 14 year old Cornish Rex Tortoise shell. We acquired her with the proceeds of my first sale. You see, I had looked at our previous clowder (another four, which are now in urns on the mantelpiece. Sometimes it worries me that people will look at it and think we’re crazed cat killers.) and I thought they were all getting oldish (about 12 to 14) and I thought “if we don’t get a kitten, in the next four years all our cats are going to die one after the other, and that is going to leave me extremely depressed.” So I said “we need a kitten” and my husband, being one who doesn’t fully understand foreshadowing in our lives, said, “only if it’s a Cornish Rex.” He thought that in our relatively small town there would be none of this exotic breed. It turned out there was a litter. And I caught on at first sight that it was probably a kitten farm (those cats were cranking out a litter after another) but while I was finding a way to say “we’re not interested after all” Miranda climbed my coat (it was around this time of year) and got in my face and yelled, then settled down and tried to unbutton my coat. And I was lost. I asked, “Does she want to be a writer’s cat?” and she squeaked with glee. We bought her, which felt a little bit like white slavery.
Miranda is a termagant. She rules the household with an iron paw, even though she weighed, at her healthiest and best, about 6 lbs. She’s also affectionate, though only to one person at a time. Right now her “person” is my younger son and she more or less lives on him.
Euclid, 13 years old came into our life six months later. Our oldest cat, Petronius the Arbiter, was kidnapped and put down by a cat-hating neighbor (we never found out who. The vet put the cat down before listening to messages, including the one where we were frantically calling every area vet to ask if they’d seen a black cat with these markings) who kidnapped him from our front porch. While looking for Pete we’d seen this black cat that looked a lot like him except for his face, and we thought he was only momentarily lost (he was in the holding period where they say they’re notifying the owner or something.) After we found Pete dead, we decided to go by to see the cat who looked like him. He was for adoption. We went with him to the get acquainted room. And he was sneezing. We weren’t sure, because we still had three cats. We told the people at the desk he was sneezing, and they said, “Oh, we’ll look into that.” And we went home.
All night, I dreamed of Euclid. I woke up and was on the phone the moment the Humane society opened. They told me he had an upper respiratory virus, and he was scheduled for euthanasia in twenty minutes. I said “Wait, what? he’s our cat and we’re coming to get him. We’ll be there in twenty minutes with a carrier.”
Since the only way to get him was to pretend he was ours and we were claiming him, we heard a lecture about having our cat fixed. But we brought him home, and we gave him amox, and he was fine.
Well, by fine, you should understand that he is the world’s most neurotic cat. To begin with, he’s er… romantically invested in one of the other male cats. No. It’s not dominance behavior. But second, he has alien tail syndrome. When he’s asleep, his tail attacks him. He’s fought his tail for fifteen minutes. And lost.
Three years later, as we were bringing in groceries for my younger son’s birthday, and a snow storm was starting, a little eight week old black and white kitten, D’Artagnan, wandered his way in. My husband and older son, bless their compassionate hearts, went through the streets nearby, knocking on every door, asking if anyone had lost a kitten. They claimed they hadn’t. We think he was the son of our stray in the neighborhood and that night got too cold for him.
He’s… an evil mastermind. His other names are Butterpat, bah lamb, Monsieur de pink nez, Inappropriate Licking Boi (he once licked Robert’s eyeball and his tongue when he yawned) and Slinky McEvil.
Five years ago, when we went to a mini golf course, we found a little cat, skinny, and starved, and covered in grease, and we called him – G-d forgive us – Havelock Vetinary. Havey is… a case of arrested development. He’s stopped developing around 10 weeks of age. So he’s a huge, fuzzy, 16 lbs, baby kitten.
He never believes anyone wishes him ill. Which is a problem because D’Artagnan hates him with a purple passion. At one time, D’Artagnan figured out how to open the glass door bookcase. Havey would immediately get in the bookcase and D’Artagnan would then lock him in. After the third time I let him out, I told Havey “this cat is not your friend. This cat doesn’t mean well.” He looked puzzled. He still didn’t get it.
This cat plays with bugs till they die, and then he brings them to me to fix. He doesn’t eat them. He doesn’t realize they were ever alive.
He can’t believe anyone hates him. If you trip over him, he runs, but then comes back. We’re terrified he’ll get lost, because we’ll never find him again. Someone will take him and abuse him and he won’t even have the sanity to run away.
So, what is this all about, besides bragging about my awesome cats.
I’ve said before – right – that among the very difficult things in this book is that I have to kill possibly the most awesome character in the book.
And people –
All of my cats are at least mildly nuts. We got… birds with broken wings. That was just what happened. They’re not the most pampered, sanest cats ever, except Miranda, who is sane but bossy.
Sometimes the last thing I want to do is go break up a fight in the middle of the night, or let Havey in to cuddle, because he’s scared and crying outside the door.
But we still love them, and they’re still ours.
And my characters… They have the virtues of their flaws. Particularly this one that I will have to kill.
And as I think about it I hope G-d is at least as forgiving as we are, of these creatures who really should know better, but who do weird things, and yet we still love them.
And on a less theological plane, it explains why I still have friends (not a lot) who disagree with me on virtually every political point. But I still like them. And they still like me.
The worst emotion the more deranged SJWs have aroused is pity. It must be terrible to see the world and people and everything through the lens of “they don’t believe yellow socks are the most awesome thing ever, so they must be destroyed.”
That we aren’t like that, that we can say “Oh, yeah, so and so is politically nuts, but I still love his/her books” is a weakness of course. We’re less ruthless in denying employment/publication/exposure to artists/professors/writers we disagree with, which means over time their marginal advantage makes them dominant.
But it is also a strength. It keeps us saner. It keeps us from say being a German person who calls other people Nazis because those other people refuse to “expel people from the human race.”
It allows us to keep thinking of people as people. And that’s important.
Oh, we’ll continue making fun of them. (Anyone else think the author is getting sloppy with the foreshadowing and naming? I mean, naming she-who-makes-scientists-cry Rose Eveleth (Evilest, really?) means He really should attend a workshop now and then, maybe.) And we’ll continue particularly making fun of their ideas.
But we won’t excommunicate people on our side because they’re slightly different. And as has been noted about the members of the ELoE – our opinions are all over the place, and some of us are almost opposites – but at the end of the day none of us wants to kick anyone else out of a professional organization for their IDEAS. (Now, if they, say, went out and killed and cooked hobos, that would be different, but since that professional organization had members in jail who earned their membership while in jail, I still wouldn’t deny them membership.)
Because we recognize people are people. Just like my stupid cats are their own creatures and not cute stuffed animals, whom I can discard when they grow old, or sick, or decide to have wars to the death in the hallway in the middle of the night.
And that allows for some pretty strange bedfellows. Like Havey. Whom I’m going to let in, because he’s lost in the hallway and lamenting, and that’s a terrible thing to happen to a five year old, sixteen pound, twelve week kitten.