RIP Miss Kitty

Friday, March 11, 2011

The plump calico cat that adopted us several years ago is, having used eight of her lives to the fullest, looking for an angel's lap.

Miss Kitty, who became a regular topic in this column over the years, was the smartest cat that ever lived. I do not boast. I am merely stating fact. I know some of you feel the same way about your cats, and I would be the last person to disagree with you. But, for today, Miss Kitty takes the prize.

Miss Kitty was a gorgeous cat. But, like many a movie star, she had what she considered her best side. She was either born with or acquired early in life a bald patch between her right eye and ear. This exposed skin set her apart from ordinary cats. It also did her in. A biopsy last week confirmed that she had skin cancer.

Years ago, friends of ours doted on a stray dog they acquired from a pound in Virginia, their home state. The dog was the most spoiled dog in the world. Our friend, in her best Virginia drawl, told us that her dog had "slipped on her ass and landed in a pool of butter." We knew exactly what she meant.

Miss Kitty was quite the communicator, although she rarely meowed out loud. She preferred to mouth her pitiful plaints as she begged for more -- of everything. She was so much smarter than that ape someone trained to spell out words. Miss Kitty used more direct visual cues. When she turned her back on you and exposed her butt, you didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what she was saying.

Miss Kitty was never ashamed of her disfigured face. She went through life with great pride in her survival instincts, in her keen hunting skills and in her boundless ability to get her adopted humans to do anything she wanted. We all have our flaws, some on the outside and some we keep inside of us, but few of us could manage Miss Kitty's aplomb in the face of life's surprises.

I said at the start that Miss Kitty had used only eight of her lives. She reserved her ninth life for the hereafter. Perhaps she knew that some sage minds contend animals don't have souls and won't be rubbing up against God's shins. How unfortunate that these wise expounders apparently never had the opportunity to look into the eyes of a loving pet.

Miss Kitty is now at rest beneath the bed of ivy in the back yard where she spent countless hours waiting for mice, crouched and ready to strike. It would be impossible to estimate how many rodents spent their final moments as Miss Kitty's playthings. Needless to say, none of them made it into our house alive. Now we wonder what we should expect.

Theologians, who ought to know what they're talking about, say that the afterlife is for an eternity. That means there is no beginning and no end. No need to measure time. No alarm clocks in heaven.

That's all well and good. Theologians, I am sure, have a lot on their minds.

But here's a wee bit of free advice for the Almighty: When 3 o'clock in the afternoon rolls around, Miss Kitty expects a saucer of milk. That shouldn't be so hard to find in the land of milk and honey. And she expects four or five morsels of cat treats.

And, God, if she doesn't get them, there will be hell to pay.

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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