‘Emily the Cat’ Posts
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fast forward a couple of years from the last story, after the “previous administration” and i had moved up to savage, maryland (2000?) and into a little three bedroom house across from the historic Savage Mill.
we known since day one that Edgar had a rather robust set of vocal chords, and had a constant struggle trying to get him to shut the heck up. (Emily, for some reason another, was as quiet as her brother was annoying.)
shortly after we moved into the new place, the problem escalated to the point that he was waking us up at 2am every morning — just parked outside the bedroom door, caterwauling in what was obviously an attempt to raise the dead.
after about of month, we finally got fed up and talked to the vet out of sheer exasperation. she calmed us down, and recommended we get a spray bottle, fill it up with water, and put it by the door. each time Edgar caterwauled, we were to open up the door, give him a squirt or two in the face, and firmly say: “No.”
she said within a week or so, Edgar would learn.
that very night, i woke up at 2am to Edgar caterwauling — i grabbed the bottle, i opened the door, i gave him a squirt, and told him “no.” the next night, i did the same. and the next night. and the next. two weeks later, i was still getting up, still opening the door, and still hosing down the cat. (NOTE: my way of saying “no” may have become more crass as the days turned into weeks.)
by the third week, i had developed insomnia (wonder why?) and was up working on the computer in the front room when the 2am caterwauling began. caught completely off guard, i ran towards the bedroom just in time to see …
… Emily caterwauling …
… the bedroom door handle turning, Emily running off, the door opening, and finally Edgar getting hosed down with the spray bottle for the 21st consecutive night.
It had been Emily all the time.
Interesting to note that Emily was smart enough to run away when the door started to open, and Edgar was stupid enough to sit there and get hosed down each night. He probably though we were giving him a bath.
The next night we started sleeping with the bedroom door open, with Emily asleep (soundly, quietly) under the foot of the bed.
back in 1998, when i was living with the “previous administration” in bethesda, maryland. (it’s stunning to me that i’ve gone 1,480 posts and never mentioned that someone existed before the lady sparkler, but stick with me.)
we had been talking for some time about getting a cat or two, and over the next couple of weekends we hit just about every animal shelter adoption between here west virginia.
finally, at a petco out in fairfax, we were looking through the temporary kennels from the local shelter when we stumbled upon an enormous, beautiful, jet black cat — all you could see was two stunning yellow eyes peering out of the back of the cage.
i stopped and watched a bit, partly because the cat was so enormous, but mostly because the cage was dark enough that i was having a hard time making out what was shadow and what was cat.
finally, as my eyes adjusted, i started to notice that the rather large, black cat’s hindquarters were moving — and moving quite independently from his front half. i called “previous administration” over to show her, and by the time she made it over the back half of the cat was shaking violently up and down.
after a few seconds of increasingly bizarre movement from the black cat, a second set of yellow eyes appeared from underneath the black cat’s bottom.
turns out there was a another cat in that kennel, and the second cat was so freaked out by the attention that she was literally crawling under the black cat looking for a place to hide.
that was Emily. the black cat was her brother, Edgar. they both came home with us that night.
when i got home from work, sparklet and i spent about 45 minutes searching the house for Emily. after calling and getting assurance from mommy that Emily was around this morning when she left for work, we sorta gave up and sat down on the couch in the basement.
… when we noticed her tail peeking out from under the couch.
within seconds it was pretty obvious that Emily was no longer with us, but we still had that time-speeds-up-so-much-it-slows-down period that seems to happen when you’re operating outside of yourself.
within a couple of seconds, the couch was jacked up onto a milk crate, Emily was in the carrier, sparklet had both shoes and a stack of empty carbohydrates for dinner, mommy was on the way to the vet, and we were away in the car. everything, and everyone, was strangely calm.
a couple of uncomfortable songs later — i remember sarah harmer’s capsized, and kathleen edwards’ 12 bellevieu — we were out front of the vet, mommy was pulling the cat carrier out of the back, and i was rushing off to park the car in the closest illegal-but-not-dangerous spot i could find.
by the time i brought sparklet inside, i could see it on mommy’s face that this trip to the vet wasn’t going to have a particularly happy ending — at least not for us.
we actually thought we were going to lose Emily back in 2006 — at one point during that ordeal we were told she wasn’t going to make it through the night. fortunately she did, and it made the last five years kind of like “bonus” time.
she had been on the same medication, twice a day, ever since — tapizol, prednizone, flagyll, vitamin B shots — so we had a daily dose of “it could happen at any time” to remind us of how luck we were to still have her.
now, Emily wasn’t exactly the friendliest of cats. some of our friends had no clue we had a cat until they had come over the twelfth or thirteenth time. even when she had warmed up to you, she would only let you pet her with one hand — the minute the second one came out (to pick her up) she was gone under the closest bed, couch or table.
we couldn’t tell if she was getting better with people — or just getting old — but she started showing up a bit more once the baby started moving around. sparklet would insist on kissing Emily on the top of her head several times a day, and at first you could see her recoil in horror, but after a few months she finally gave in and stopped trying to run away.
(sparklet held my hand the whole way from home to the vet — something just as out of character for her as taking kisses from babies was for Emily.)
the Emily that i will remember the most is the cat that would come out when the house had finally settled down to a managable din. in the thirteen years we had together, across six houses in three states, you could always count on her to come jumping up on the couch to say goodnight once everyone else had gone to sleep.
emily has started (a) not running away the moment that sparklet makes eye contact with her, and (b) occasionally putting herself down in front of sparklet in such a way as to imply that she might actually not mind being pet.
sparklet, for her part, has learned how to run her hand through emily’s hair without ripping any out. hard to call that petting, but it’s a start.
it’s almost like having a brand new puppy in the house, a point which emily-the-cat has already complained about more than once.