Odd, isn’t it, that though I am a cat person and have , over the course of the years, had 14 cats, so far I have written only about my dogs. In order from 1942 to the present day, my cats were Topsy, Victory, Ginger, Adelaide, Ali-Bam, Simba, Kit, Caboodle, Bonkers, Barnum, Bailey, Bixby, Bonnie, and Benedict. A number of the cats have been just that: cats. But more than a few have had very distinctive personalities, and from time to time I’ll attempt to capture them in print.
BARNUM , with his white and black coat, was supposed to be Mary-Ellen’s cat: a begged for Christmas gift the year she was 24. She already had a cat named Bailey, so Barnum was an obvious name choice. I should add here that both Barnum and Bailey ended up “my” cats when my daughter moved to Philly two years later.
“Cats Who Love Too Much” , if written, would have a picture of Barnum on the cover. Abandoned by his mother at less than a week, he was raised by hand by a shelter volunteer and ever after demanded attention from his humans 24/7.
When you sat, Barnum appeared and jumped on your lap. But his favorite was when you propped yourself up on the couch or in the chair with the ottoman and he could sit on your lap, stretch up, and put his arms around your neck. All this was very reassuring and comforting, but when, at night or in the early morning you were asleep and he wanted to lick your eyelids, that was just plain annoying.
Barnum had a purr, or motor as my mother called it, louder than any other cat I’ve ever known. Sometimes it was enchanting, but not if you were trying to take a nap, go to sleep, or stay asleep.
From an early age, he loved cotton swabs, tossing them in the air, throwing them, catching them. When he was done playing, he would hide them, and one day I found a huge stash under my bed! I often just gave him one, but he went so far as to jump on the bathroom vanity, knock the top off a container, and take out one or two with his claws.
All this play-acting served him well as he earned the title of “Mousebuster.” Though an indoor cat, on at least two separate occasions he showed his prowess. Once he caught and killed a mouse, placed it on the center of my bed, and topped it with two cotton swabs, forming a cross. Another time he brought a live mouse onto the bed when I was in it. I screamed so loud, he dropped it, and though he and the other two cats chased it, it did escape.
Several of my cats have liked to sit or roll in the bathtub after a human’s shower, but Barnum preferred that you, wet from the shower, shake yourself off on him. He really wanted to be embraced by a wet human, but the attending fur kept this to a rare treat. He liked to be rubbed down with water, and he particularly liked us to rub water over his face and smooth his whiskers with a wet hand. He would hop up on the toilet or vanity and wait patiently until we realized what he wanted.
Barnum was one of the three cats who relocated to Hanover with me, but a few years later, at age 14, he moved on to the great catnip field in the sky.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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