I was born a poor black cat. Okay, stop laughing. It is actually true. I’m mostly black, except for spots of white, embarrassingly shaped like human body hair, which show when I lie on my back. And I was born in the crawl space of a rental house from a feral mother who was dumped as a kitten, and the neighborhood gentleman Mrs. Hoyt pleases to call The Resident Mad Feral Tom.
I wasn’t much more than ten weeks old when I had to defend mam.ma cat’s honor against a roving tom who took the opportunity of papa cat (who used to baby-sit us when mama went about her errands) being absent.
To be honest with you, I didn’t so much worry about my mother’s honor. It was that the tom made it very clear my brothers and sister and I should be done away with and possibly eaten, so mama could turn her attention to his offspring, the getting of.
Well, I was tiny, but I had needle sharp claws, so I jumped on his head and–
Mrs. Hoyt says that’s when she decided to call me Greebo. It didn’t hurt for the name that when the neighbor next door trapped me and my siblings (we could never resist tuna) she took me to be “fixed” (I wasn’t aware of being broken) to a feral-fixing service, which then cut half of one ear so people knew we were fixed. She did this despite Mrs. Hoyt offering to pay for the fixing, which to be fair, she was never forgiven for.
Another thing she was never forgiven for was locking us all in a six by nine powder room, and not letting us be adopted. To be fair, she let the Hoyts come and pet us and play with us, but she kept insisting we were feral and dangerous — she wasn’t a cat person, and to be fair, I didn’t like her — and not letting the Hoyts find us families. Then when we were a year old she turned us out just before winter. This is when Mrs. Hoyt took over looking after us, and trying to re-tame us, as we were rather traumatized at being dumped out into the freezing cold. She even bought us an insulated house to sleep in during winter, and had us chipped and vaccinated.
Despite this, my brothers chose to live with the neighbors. Okay, fine, I might have chased Maurice away. Mr. Underfoot genuinely preferred the neighbors, even though they called him Dumb and Maurice Dumber. Look, given how et up with cats the Hoyts are I judged my chances of being brought inside best if there was just one of us, okay? A cat’s got to do what a cat got to do.
At any rate, Maurice owed me, because that first winter out, a fox got him in an indelicate place — to put it bluntly, the fox took an off-center chunk off Maurice — and if I hadn’t descended upon the fox like the wrath of Greebo, Maurice would be dead.
Mrs. Hoyt is still confused at my bringing her half a fox’s tail, ripped vertically. I’d heard they were valued for stoles, but I think she threw it away, silly woman. What do you expect from writers.
I also once saved them from a fugitive. It happened like this, see, I wasn’t very fond of the outside house, so I convinced them to put a cat door on the little screen door to their mudroom.
The mudroom didn’t lock, because back then Colorado Springs’ Old North end was, in the main, very safe. Besides, all they kept there were these tall plastic shelves with gardening stuff and basketballs, and the kids scooters. That kind of thing. Oh, and two cat beds, one in the lowest shelf and one on the highest.
It so happened that every so often a fugitive escaped the maximum security facility somewhere South of the Springs, and then the police would hunt them down and have lights shining from helicopters to catch them. We all knew what those lights meant.
Of course, the problem with that mud room — the Hoyts called it an air-lock. Shakes head at the silliness of science fiction people — is that once you were in there, you had all the time in the world to break into the kitchen. I knew Mrs. Hoyt was there, cooking, because I’d greeted her at the kitchen window — purr, rub on glass, purr — before going to sleep in the top most shelf.
I don’t know why I know this man was a wrong one, except he smelled bad, of fear and bad intentions, and besides he wasn’t daddy, who was the only person who should be coming into the air lock at that time.
Well — flicks claw — I have my claws. And I remembered who I got rid of mama’s suitor. Yep, I dropped on his head.
He ran out of the airlock with me on his head, and I stayed on, yowling and scratching, and let me tell you it wasn’t easy to keep my balance, so I held on with my front claws and ripped with my back claws. When we found the police he was sobbing, asking for his mommy, and saying something about demons.
Mrs Hoyt was very proud of me and gave me tuna.
So, what does this have to do with writing tips?
Be still, there’s more to the story.
Imagine my surprise when the Hoyts moved away and left me behind. I thought it was understood I was THEIR kitten — albeit a near 20 lb muscular kitten — but apparently the strange pink monkeys thought I was the neighborhood cat.
So I sat my butt in front of the house and yowled ALL NIGHT. It worked. One of the neighbors called and told Mrs. Hoyt she had to come get me, because I wouldn’t let anyone sleep.
And that’s how I achieved my long term goal of being an indoor cat.
Now, because I know she has a lot of other cats (Yeah, not happy about that, but one is old enough he shouldn’t be with us long, the other one is really her son’s cat and just staying with us for a year, and the third is probably just an animated ball of cotton wool) she has to feed, and I don’t intend to go without my tuna, I also herd the silly woman to the chair to write at all times, so she has money to keep us. Because, and here’s the thing, found if you work at it, you will be successful.
So, my tips for writers are:
No matter who you were born, or to whom, or how unlikely your circumstances, you can do what you set out to do. It just takes effort and determination. Tell yourself right now you’re not going to give up and die when the big feral tom wants you out of the way. You’ll chase him off if needed, even if you’re much smaller. And you’ll do it WELL.
Develop your innate abilities. Mine is chasing off large wild life and terrorizing neighborhoods. This not only saved my brother Maurice and the other cats in the neighborhood, since the fox found another place to prowl, but it made me beloved by a lot of people who only heard about me.
It also made me capable of chasing off a real, dangerous fugitive and earn the gratitude of the Hoyts.
Also, as I keep telling the writer-woman, when you become what you always wanted to be, don’t slack off. Be vigilant and always on the job, and you know, sometimes you’ll even get tuna rewards.
It’s all in working hard and never giving up. Now go write, before I figure out a way to come to your houses and chase you to your keyboards.