Keen on the Cat’s Meow

September 9, 2010 at 8:25 am Leave a comment

My mother once painted a small panel that read, “Everything tastes better with a little pet hair.”  Now, she wasn’t talking about man’s best friend but mankind’s faithful feline companion, the venerable cat.

Yes, Peg Bracken was a dyed-in-the-fur tabby lover whose idyll was a rainy day spent curled up on the couch, a book in hand and little purr box beside you. 

Since cat lovers range from the merely adoring to the downright delusional, let me say that Mom ranked somewhere in the middle.  She treasured cats for their independence, transcendence, their charming disinterest in all non-cat matters, and their rather luxurious approach to life.  But she wasn’t kooky about it, far preferring the company of people.

Still, so many of her non-literary creations revolved around cats:  tapestries; wall hangers; sketches; book marks; painted panels like the one described above; or just quips jotted on scraps of paper.  You’d of thought she was part Egyptian.

She also made the mistake of announcing her appreciation to friends, family and fans and wound up amassing an enormous collection of cat décor and other tchotchkes, which she relegated to the bathroom to preserve her marriage.  More than one visitor was “unseated” by a clock that mewed at the top of the hour.

Mom had many cats over the course of her long life.  But her pride and joy was Aka, a lovable Siamese who loved being handled, and thought Peg Bracken’s lap was about the greatest place on Earth.  In stark contrast, her last pet—cloying named Peaches, turned out to be a psychotic creature who regularly greeted guests by mauling their outstretched hands.   Such a pity. 

Though more a dog lover, I have four cats of my own.   And while all are wonderful, one, Trouble, reminds me of Mom’s favorite through his near constant clinginess.  He’s always climbing up on me, brushing across my face, and treading boldly between me and my open book.  It’s so cute.  Then so annoying.  Right before I brush him aside I stop and wonder, is this the soul of Aka looking for a lap, or the spirit of my mother reminding me to be grateful for such wonderful companionship?

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