International Cat Day

Last week sucked. And since I have nothing nice to say about it, I’ll talk about cats instead, since today is International Cat Day.

For the first half of my life, I considered myself to be a cat person. The first cat I remember having was a big black cat that my Grandma Sarah picked up from a yard sale. Grandma never could turn down a good yard sale, and I’m sure my mom was thrilled that Grandma found such a “bargain” for me. Anyway, I could carry this giant cat in any manner – like a baby, upside down, by the tail… it didn’t seem to care. Apparently, it had given up on life since it had been relegated to the bargain bin at a yard sale, and didn’t have an opinion on how I paid attention to it, as long as I was paying it some sort of attention. Unfortunately, I don’t remember if it was a male or female, and I cannot recall what we called the poor, dejected cat. And I’m not sure if it moved on from our world “naturally” or if it simply ran off to find its inner Qi. Regardless, I loved the cat dearly and considered myself to be a bonafide cat aficionado based on my experience with this cat.

The next cat I remember was a member of what I like to call our “Gone With The Wind” phase. GWTW was my mother’s favorite movie and she honored her fandom with the first in a long series of Siamese cats she named Rhett. Scarlett came soon after. When one would die (usually of Feline Leukemia), we’d replace it with another Siamese GWTW cast member. This was before we learned that feline leukemia was contagious and replacing them was essentially killing them.

So, when we found a stray Siamese wandering around, Mom adopted it and gave him the name “Ashley.” The GWTW character Ashley is probably my least favorite, I always thought of him as weak. But Ashley-the-Cat was a first class a-hole. He didn’t like anyone but my mother. And he especially didn’t appreciate his other “cast mates.” He felt he should be starring in a one-cat show. And on one fateful day, he took his disdain for the world out on me.

We had just come home from school. I was in second grade. I remember I was wearing my favorite yellow t-shirt. My sister, Cassi, was making a sandwich in the kitchen and I was sitting on the floor right next to the kitchen, directly beside an ironing board. My sister was grumbling at me about something… my needing to do chores or something of the sort. I was busy petting my kind Siamese cat, who was sitting next to me on the floor, but since I was listening to my sister, I failed to hear Ashley, perched on the ironing board, growling directly above my head. I noticed the hair on my kind kitty standing on end, probably bracing for the impending fight with Ashley. But since I was focused on what my sister was saying, I didn’t realize my dangerous situation before it was too late.

Ashley pounced to attack, but my face got in the way. He landed on my head with claws out, and, in what seemed like slow-motion torture, shredded me to pieces. I’m sure the whole incident was over in a matter of nanoseconds, but it seemed like a million years of tiny knives shredding my head into julienned strips. When the cat retreated, I sat stunned, my sister still grumbling about something in the kitchen. I stood up and walked to the kitchen door, beginning to cry, which caused my sister to whip around from her sandwich making. The look on her face was sheer horror. And the scream emanating from her assured me of what I already suspected: I was going to die.

I don’t remember the exact order of events, but I know Cassi called my mother at work to ask what to do. Mom worked downtown – over 25 miles away – so she wouldn’t make it home in time before I bled out. Ok, that’s probably a big embellishment, I probably wouldn’t have bled out, but I like to add a little fiction for dramatic purposes. 🙂 Cassi was told to wrap my head in a towel and take me to my neighbor, Jane’s house. Jane was the mother to a whole lot of boys, and dealing with blood was probably one of her specialties.

So, my sister searched for something to wrap my head in, but in her panic, ended up wrapping my head in a blanket. Now, I’m a second grader. And I was super tiny for my age. So, this little stick figure with a blanket wrapped around her head and blood everywhere had to be quite a site. My sister drug me out of the house by my arm and we ran across the yard to Jane’s. Despite growing up in a tiny village, the street we lived on was well traveled. People stopped. And I told them all that I was dying as Cassi drug me across the yard, bloodied blanket trailing behind my tiny frame.

Jane wasn’t impressed with my wounds a poured a bottle of ST-37, which is still sold online today as a “soothing antiseptic solution” (a review I do NOT agree with,) all over my head. By the time I stopped hyperventilating, mom was home and took me to the ER.

Clumps of my hair were missing. A scratch around my right eye was dangerously close to making me a One-Eyed Sarah. The favorite yellow t-shirt? Destroyed. The cat? Retired. Or punted to the Rainbow Bridge. Not sure what happened to Ashley. Except that he’s been reincarnated and has attacked me repeatedly over the years. Yes, I’ve been sent to the ER/hospitalized three times thanks to cat attacks. And when I shaved my head this past March for St. Baldrick’s, I was reminded of the old war wounds I received thanks to that little bastard of a cat.

And this is why I’m now a dog person.

*I don’t think I’ve ever said so, but THANK YOU, sissy, for taking care of me that day. I know you hate when I tell this story, but you did a good job! I love you!

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