For Rent: 4BR house + cat

I’m going to start with seeing the house.  It’s gorgeous.  I know it’s way too big for just two people to live in, but we have a lot of stuff (jeez, we have a lot of stuff), and we love to entertain, and it looks just like the house in which I grew up (except that it’s red brick, not stone and the ‘leaded’ windows in this house are fake) on STIRLING Avenue.

So when I came to STIRLING Ontario for a job interview and saw this house, which was at the time listed for sale for way more than we could afford, I told Jeffrey “I’m getting this job, and we’re going to live in that house.”  He asked me to get the job first, and then we could maybe talk about renting, not buying, a place to live.

As it turns out, the job did not work out as well as I had hoped to my endless regret, but the house decision was a really good one! As it turned out, the owners could not sell the house, we told them we wanted to rent it, we got it at a great price, and now all of our stuff is unpacked and put away (let’s just skip right over the state of my office, shall we?) and the three of us are living happily ever after.

Hey, did you catch that?  The THREE of us?  When only two were moving in?  Huh? Huh?

Jeff & I came for a “show them how all the stuff works and talk about the ratty refrigerator” visit about a month or so before we moved in, and our landlady said, “Would you also like Scarlet?”  Scarlet is a cat, a 5-year old grey cat who definitely has some definite Siamese lineage, and she had taken to Jeff on his first visit to the house like, well, like a cat to cream.

I married a cat man.  I did not know this before we got married – which is fine.  I don’t think it’s grounds for divorce anyway.  But I come from a dog family and the idea of having cats was not one I had ever really entertained. We have had four cats in our lives in the time we’ve been married.  The first was the truly insane Pyewacket, a Siamese we bought from a woman living in a trailer in Jacksonville Florida.  Pye used to run down the hall of our house, launch herself against the wall at the end of the hall and throw herself back into the living room; she gave herself bonus points for leaping higher up the wall on every attempt.  We Fed Ex’d Pye to Ann Arbor Michigan where Jeff’s friend Kenny lived with his now ex-wife (we take no responsibility for the end of that marriage as they had long before got rid of Pye) because we were going to Europe and no one who had actually met her wanted her.

The next two cats, Samantha Alice and Sabrina Jane, were refugees from two different animal shelters in Maine, whom we got at pretty much the same time.  Sam was partly a Maine coon cat and loved to slide down under the covers and sleep between us in the dead of winter.  We only had Sam for about five years because of health issues before we, sadly, had to put her down.  Brie on the other hand – or Cheeser, Cheeser as our friend Andrew called her – was part of our lives for 19 years.

She was the cat I was meant to have – she was smart, funny, agile, loving, and thought she was a dog.  At least, she did until she remembered she was a cat.  For example, she loved to play fetch but only so far.  She would go get the ball (a small, soft ball of yarn) and bring it ALMOST back to you.  Almost – you, the human, had to walk a step or two to where she dropped the ball because, after all, cats don’t actually fetch things!

We got her as a 4-week old kitten – way to young to leave her mother, except that she & her siblings had been abandoned in a bag at the side of a road.  When we were at the shelter, this bundle of butterscotch rippled fur just bounced right up to the door of the cage and started licking Jeff’s fingers like he was made of anchovies or something.  He looked at me and said this is the one.  So we took her home and named her Sabrina Jane and watched her turn into a beautiful green-eyed ginger cat with soft fur and sleek lines.  Oh, and a yowl that would scrape paint off walls.

About two years after she joined our household, I took her to the vet for some sort of check-up which was fine once we were there.  Brie loved the vet but hated getting there.  Cars, trucks, bicycles – any moving vehicle was anathema to her and she resented having to get in one.  She would not settle down, no matter what, so it was yowl, yowl, yowl all the way there.  Once we were in the vet’s office, she was much quieter, because we were no longer in a car.  However, when the visit was over and it was time to go home again, the yowling started up.  Right there, in the waiting room.  I mean, this tiny ginger cat and this remarkably huge Siamese yowl.  Very entertaining.  Especially this particular day, when I’m juggling chequebook, purse, keys and yowling cat and just happen to look across the waiting room.  There’s a man sitting, with a ginger cat that looked exactly like Brie, I mean exactly.  The man looks at me, then Brie, then his cat, then back to me.  “Mine,” he says.  “Mine is a lot quieter.”

Brie died of old age finally, and we really did mourn  her.  (Damn vet’s office sent a condolence card!  I mean, that’s so sweet and everything but until I opened that card – thinking it was a bill or something – I hadn’t really cried.)

But after a while, I started saying… dog. dog. dog… under my breath, sending subliminal messages to Jeffrey that I was thinking about a different kind of companion animal.  I had various dog breeders on my radio talk show.  I brought home Dog’s Annual.  I rented Rin Tin Tin movies.  We were going to get a dog!

Somehow though, it never happened.  And then… Stirling.  And this wonderful 4BR house, complete with cat.  Named Scarlet.

She sits in the tub waiting for water to drip out of the tap because she’s not keen on drinking water out of bowls.  She likes to sleep beside us, but isn’t a cuddler.  Her favourite perch is the back of Jeff’s chair.  She doesn’t eat people food at all, except for grapes (seriously).  And she comes when she’s called.  Somehow, I’ve become a cat lady, but I don’t think I mind.

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