Bailey never liked me. Most cats do, but Bailey didn’t. I tried to like her, but it is pretty hard to like a cat who sits and sneers at you. I kid you not. She would sit there, looking at me, and curl up half of her upper lip! Yet and still, when she went to that great catnip field in the sky, I missed her.
Bailey came into my life through my daughter. When Mary-Ellen graduated from college and moved out of state, she not surprisingly, having been raised with cats, rescued a young cat from a garage and named her Bailey, after George Bailey of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” A year later, Mary-Ellen moved back home, bringing Bailey with her. Following all the prescribed strategies of introducing a new pet, she brought Bailey in a carrying case which she left on the living room floor until the other animals had a chance to sniff her. When Bailey strutted out of the cage, she walked over to my 70-pound Husky Shepherd and smacked her in the face, went on to Kit , a not small cat, who had been with me for 13 years, smacked her in the face, and finished with poor timid Bonkers, three years old, who had been adopted that spring. Throughout her life, Bailey was the instigator within the pet population, tormenting Bonkers especially. Bonkers, timid and a loner, would besleeping peacefully when Bailey would approach with fisticuffs.
Bailey, who had a small delicate face, was a beautiful tricolor, her white the whitest of whites, her tail perfectly striped and thick with fur. She was very photogenic, but social she was not.
Some five years after Mary-Ellen moved home with Bailey, she moved, permanently, this time, leaving Bailey with me. In all, Bailey lived with me more than 12 years and in all that time never let me pick her up, never sat on my lap though she would rub against my legs and sometimes liked to bite into my hair if she got up behind me in my easy chair or on the couch.
I later realized that she was the silent observer, choosing to watch me from a distance, especially when I was in the kitchen. She would sit, looking very regal, that beautiful tail curled around her feet. While the other cats would nestle against me on the bed, Bailey would curl up at a safe distance. And yet, it was Bailey who recognized the sound of my car pulling into the driveway and would be at the door to meet me.
The only time she ever meowed was when there was deli-sliced turkey in the refrigerator, and then, having detected it as it came into the house, she would sit beside the refrigerator door and meow until I gave in and shared some with her.
Bailey had always liked cheese, usually favoring cheddar, but in her later life she seemed to prefer mozzarella. As she began to lose weight, I found myself adding “Cheese for Bailey” to the shopping list. I was reminded that my human children often liked stuffing even if there was no turkey, and with Bailey I imagined her liking the stuffing without the mouse!!!!!
She was attracted to strong scents and tastes: would lick the shaker of medicated powder, retrieve gum wrappers and lick them, and should I rub Ben Gay on my neck, a time-honored remedy for sore throat, she would pursue me until I was forced to pull the covers up to my ears. She was particularly fond of a certain friend’s purse and would rub the outside and stick her head inside should the purse be left unguarded!
She also liked warmth , even more than most cats, and could sometimes be found sleeping on top of the radiator! Other than that, she pretty much chose to snooze under the light of an electric lamp or in the tiniest shred of sunlight.
Interestingly enough, when Mary-Ellen visited one Christmas, though they hadn’t seen one another in over two years, Bailey went right to her, let herself be picked up and let Mary-Ellen walk around with her. So I guess she was a one-person cat; I just wasn’t that one person.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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