Old Girlie-Girl

An old cat

I have an old cat sitting next to me my Girlie-Girl. I don’t know when she got old; I’m not even sure of her age. She could be anywhere from 9 to 13 years old, which I think is young for a cat getting old.

She feels lighter than she did when younger, as though her form has been filled with air. She’s not skinny; she’s not even smaller than she’s ever been. She just feels less substantial than she had. She’s in fine health despite it, and other than a touch of arthritis she has no health complaints.

She yowls in a cranky way when she’s not in the room with us. If we call out for her the yowling settles into a calmer meow, almost like she has found her way again. I wonder about dementia; as there’s nothing to be done about that, we just live with her peculiarities.

Cats’ lives

Cats live for a shorter lifespan than we do; it’s just reality. The average indoor cat lives on average 13 years of age, but keep in mind that some cats die younger and some much, much older. I’ve had cats live to 19 and 20 years of age. To be a cat owner is to watch your beloved cats die before you. (I have seen seven of my cats die in my 57 years of existence, including a newborn foster cat. Which averages out to 13.)

So Girlie won’t live forever; at this point it’s hard to say when she’ll die. If she’s like most tortoiseshell/calicos I have known, she’ll live to 19 or 20. But it’s hard to tell. For now I’m going to have to enjoy her and keep an eye on her.

Guest Blog from Me-Me (Weebles) the Cat

I’m hanging out with my human. She sits on the cushie place with the light box she stares into and moves her fingers in patterns. Sometimes I sit beside her and beg for pets; other times I sit behind her and clean her hair.

She always sits at her place, and I consider it my place too because she’s there. Sometimes the other human (the one who walks loud) walks by with something foul-smelling in a tall dish. Notice I said “foul-smelling” and not “fowl-smelling”. I like “fowl-smelling”. I don’t understand the tall dish with the loop on the side nor why my human drinks out of it. I tried once and got my face stuck in it.

Oh, there’s other cats. I don’t pay much attention to them because of my undivided attention to my human. They don’t pay much attention to me, even the spotty black demon who joined the household most recently. I have another sister who tries to sit in the same place as I do, but she takes one look at me claiming my space and plods away.

It’s naptime now (it’s always naptime) and so I need to curl up into a comfy space now.

Chloe’s New Adventure (which she would rather avoid)


Chloe (AKA Little Girl) is going to the vet today to get spayed. Right now she’s in the cat carrier and very unhappy. I doubt the surgery is going to make her much happier. 

Chloe is about 8 months old at this point, and just as much a devil as she was as a youngster. She still bites my toes to wake me up, and she crawls up on my clothes rack to hide. I can’t see her getting any calmer as a grownup cat.

I worry a little about putting any cat through surgery, but I also wholeheartedly believe in spaying and neutering cats. There are too many kittens and cats in shelters (as Chloe was an unwanted kitten at the Humane Society). There are too many feral cats out there having kittens. 

So Chloe will go to the vet’s, and then she will come home groggy and disoriented and not very happy with us. And we will shower her with love.

A Convalescing Chloe



 Sorry I’m running late today, but I had to take Chloe to the vet for what ended up being an infected cat bite on her foot. Despite our efforts to keep the other cats quarantined from little Chloe, Me-Me keeps barging in, and occasionally they get in a scrap.

Chloe is sitting next to me today — no, she’s not sitting. She’s making an immense effort to stand, which isn’t happening because she’s wobbly from the sedation she’s gone through to get her abscess drained. 

So right now (blesssedly I have a work-at-home day) I am supervising the wobbly little monster. She isn’t feeling much like being petted; she’s laying on the bed next to me trying to escape … somewhere. I’m not sure she knows where, because I don’t think she can see straight yet. She sort of stands up, wobbles, and falls over. She’s scared of me but doesn’t mind curling up next to me. I feel so bad for her!

There are worse things than trying to get your work done next to a wobbly cat.

On the Verge of Querying Again.

I have minor corrections to do on Whose Hearts are Mountains today, and then I will query the last 30 agents. Wish me luck.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if these last 30 come up empty. Yes, I do. I’m going to query Prodigies (the improved version) in a few months, and start the cycle again. 

I feel like a glutton for punishment. But at this point, I have documents as good as I can make them, and I can’t not share them. 

Nothing more to say today, but: here’s a cat.

Me-Me, aka “Brussels Sprout”

For a dying cat

My cat Snowy is dying.

My husband and I think she had a stroke because we discovered her laying in front of the dresser and occasionally meowing strangely last night. We don’t have an emergency vet here, so we have to wait till the vet opens at 8.

The next morning, she hasn’t moved, and she meows piteously when moved. She’s limp, except for her two front paws, which seem curled into themselves. Eventually, she doesn’t even meow, only breathes. Barely breathes.

I doubt there’s anything the vet can do. If she’s indeed had a stroke, the chances of her having another are high, and she may not recover from this one. As I’ve said, it’s highly likely we’ll say our goodbyes at the vet’s office.

I will remember Snowy as a peculiar cat. Black and long-haired with a white locket (we didn’t name her), she carried herself like a diva and sat with her front feet crossed daintily. She had a fascination with doors, and would paw at them trying to get to the other side. 

Soon, she will be on the other side of the door, where I am told she will climb a grassy hill to the Rainbow Bridge and wait for us. All pets go to the Rainbow Bridge, it is told, which makes it more charitable than the Christian view of Heaven. We, the humans, stay behind, taking care of our other cats, missing the presence of our Snowy.

Sasha, my ghost cat

I’m hopeful my ghost cat has moved in again.

I suppose I should explain my ghost cat. Some thirty-two years ago, when I was a graduate student, I owned a small, feisty black cat named Sasha.

I lived in a second floor, one-room apartment in an old house, with the porch roof just outside one window and access to the wooden fire escape out the side window. In the Illinois summers I had no air conditioning, so I tried to keep cool with a box fan and open windows.

I wanted to keep Sasha an indoor cat because I lived on a relatively busy thoroughfare in Champaign. Sasha had her own agenda. She found a way to pop the screen out of the front window, stroll across the porch roof to the fire escape, then bound down the stairs. She would eventually sneak upstairs with one of the other residents and sit outside my apartment door until I returned home.

Until the time she didn’t. Tommy, the alcoholic hippie down the hall, strolled upstairs that evening to announce that he put a dead cat in the dumpster and figured it was mine. My friend down the hall and I actually raided that dumpster at 10:30 at night to find the reeking garbage bag that contained the remains of my Sasha, and buried her on university farm property.

Soon, another cat found me, a grey and white polydactyl I named Kismet, who followed me halfway across town to become my cat. It was fall by then, and I no longer needed to keep my windows open. Kismet, like all young cats, would go into a chasing-nothing sort of frenzy, running around the small apartment, bouncing off the walls.

Except. Except that he would stop at the window, the window that Sasha used to break out of, and peer around the corner to the side of the porch, then run around to the side window as if watching something go down the stairs. And then friends would come and ask me if I had a cat, and I explained that Kismet was out somewhere, and they would ask, “What about the black cat?”

Eventually I moved, and moved again, and moved halfway across the country and back again, and I forgot about Sasha. But then, day before yesterday, my cat Chuckie started chasing around the living room. I thought nothing of it because cats do that. But then he turned a hard right and slammed into the French doors to the dining room. He stared into the dark room as if he saw something we didn’t, something that crept away from him.

If Sasha has found me again, I welcome her with open arms.

Buddy the Cat writes a guest column

Hey, I’m Buddy. I’m a cat, as you may have gathered from the title. Suspend your disbelief for a moment and accept that you’re reading a furry creature’s thoughts.

My people found me in their garage one day hanging out. Most people would be like, “Hey, there’s a strange cat in our garage. Let’s call Animal Control.” My people put out a food dish instead, so I stuck with them, patrolling their yard for intruders and snacking on their food. I let them pet me, of course.

Then one day I cut myself on something in the garage, big cut at the base of my tail that looked like I tried to skin myself. No big deal; I’m an outdoor cat and we’re tough. But my people caught me and loaded me up and took me to someone they called “the vet”, who stuck me a few times and stitched up my tail. But then the vet said, “Keep him indoors for at least three-four days,” and that’s how I became an indoor cat.

Indoors is warm, but it comes with five other cats. I’ll sit near them sometimes, but I’m not an overly emotional guy. The big cat likes to chase me around, but I set him straight, and now he respects my need for space.

It’s nice living with my people. I still go outside sometimes, usually by making a break for it through the basement door before they can catch me. It’s important that I guard the yard from miscreants, because my people don’t know how to. It’s up to me to take care of them.

Gotta go now. It’s petting time.

For my cat Stinkerbelle

Stinky bit me in the nose last night.

Stinky — Stinkerbelle in full —  earned her name as a kitten by crawling up my chest and sweetly punching me in the eye. Adopted as a feral kitten out from under a friend’s porch, she hasn’t mellowed in her fourteen years on earth.

Stinky has not come a long way since we adopted her. She chooses to stay upstairs, mingling only with our other five cats when wet food is served. She hogs the food and now rather resembles a soccer ball — black and white and round. She hisses at the other cats, at us, at inanimate objects. She likes to have her back scritched — until, suddenly, she doesn’t, hence the bitten nose. All in all a disagreeable cat.

But Stinky will sit on the bed sometimes, close to my head, purring just out of the happiness of being near me. She will rub up against my hand ecstatically when I pet her and eventually bliss out into a cross-eyed state. She doesn’t hate — she just doesn’t know what to do with herself. 

So we love Stinky in the way one loves their problem children. Awkward, unbeautiful, cranky, at times lashing out. She reminds me of me as a child — roly poly and uncoordinated, unaware of how my intelligence put off people. I did not believe myself lovable, and told the school psychologist only the monsters were my friends.

I study Stinky and find my inner child, runny-nosed and crying, yet still worthy of love.