This novel by the Bay Area author Lucille Bellucci benefits the East Bay SPCA. If you enjoy this wonderful and heartwarming story, please consider supporting the SPCA by a donation directly on their web site.
By Lucille Bellucci
Pinky is a tortoiseshell kitten from next door who pursued me until we caught each other. This is also the story of her mother and siblings and sundry other critters. Doubt no more – cats do have souls as well as heart.
PINKY MAKES A SPEECH
I am flat on the floor, peering under the sofa, and become aware that Pinky is beside me, also flat and peering into the darkness. Of course, she has no idea what we are doing. I laugh out loud, and she flops on her back and wiggles. It is her orange catnip fish that is missing again. I have considered purchasing a dozen to keep in reserve, but I am as stubborn in continuing my daily pursuit of the fish as she is in losing it.
A long, thin dowel is my instrument of retrieval. With it I sweep under all the furniture in the house.
She has other toys, but has a passion for the fish. For a cat who may have been feral before she moved in with me, she has adapted superbly to life indoors, unless she was only half feral before. I had never seen her, a longhaired tortoiseshell with green eyes, in the neighborhood before she came up the steps to my patio, leaned her paws against the door, and peered through the glass. I moved to open the door and before I could invite her in, she backed off and ran away.
She returned again and again, each time following on my heels. Whenever I turned around she fled. One day she held her ground and uttered several meows in a tiny voice. I interpreted them to mean, “I like you. Can I stay? I’m a good cat. I won’t give you any trouble.” I named her Pinky for her one pink toe.
She did stay. Soon I was scanning grocery shelves for flavors of canned cat food, then loading sacks of dry cat chow in my cart, then picking up leaflets on veterinary pet care. I was having fun. After my budgerigar, Daisy, died, it seemed reckless to acquire another pet that I could not leave for at least two nights at a time. Daisy did not mind my absence if I left a radio on near her. She would cock her head in its direction and, from the pile of droppings below, seemed not to have moved during those days away.
Pinky could look after herself, I reasoned, if I left her a dish of food and water outside the door. But what about raccoons eating the food? Other cats? No matter. I would figure something out. At least she wouldn’t need a litter box.
In the beginning of our friendship, there was a problem with our nights together. I had to get up several times to see if she had come to be let in. When she did come in, at whatever time of night it happened to be, she would jump onto the bed and sleep by my side. Sweet comfort for my spirit, this little furry body purring next to me! After my husband, Renato, died I endured the same painful emptiness everyone does after loss. I did not want another human being next to me.
The pet door I installed suited us both. Now she came and went as she liked.
Her belly is a serious comfort zone. When she wants me to stop scratching when ready for sleep, her legs push my hand away. The first time I slipped a hand under her head, she purred wildly. Irresistible – and I did it whenever I could. Sometimes she’d slip a paw into my hand to hold. While I cupped her head, a small cramp would come alive in my forearm, move up to my shoulder and neck, snake down my back, until a monstrous torque took hold of the arch of my foot. My hand stayed put, while my foot proceeded to dig a hole in the mattress. It is a measure of my gratitude for her companionship that I was willing to stand on hot coals for her. I have since recovered my senses and seek my own comfort first. In the very beginning, she crept up and draped herself around my neck like a fur boa. Her purring filled my throat. Another time, I woke up to a stealthy movement along my legs. She was inching up along them, and when she reached my hip, began to inch back down. She did this several times. Was it a private game? Was she tracking a bug? I went back to sleep.
Even now, she comes high up under my arm and doesn’t complain if, in my sleep, I clamp her to me too tightly.
Pinky wasn’t the first cat to visit me.
One warm afternoon in November I came into the house after pulling weeds for an hour. A big tabby jumped down from the living room sofa and ran to me meowing. Surprised, I bent down to stroke it and was met with a fierce show of affection. She – most probably a she – rubbed against my hand, all the while meowing in a sweet, high voice.
She wound herself between my ankles, following me out to the patio, jumping up on the railing to rub against me, and purred and meowed without end. I didn’t know what to do with her and retreated to my husband’s den and lay down on the couch to read. The cat jumped up on my chest, at least twenty pounds of her. She rubbed against my face, my hand holding the book, my neck, my chin. I stroked and scratched. She kept up the attack. I thought Help! but really was enjoying myself.
After what seemed an hour, I put her outside and shut the door and fled back to the couch to think about what had happened. We had seen each other once or twice in my yard, nothing more.
She came almost every day after that, since the weather allowed me to leave the patio door open. I bought cat treats. Whenever I was not at the computer, fruitlessly trying to work on a book I had put aside for too long, then giving up, she joined me on the couch as I read or napped. If I awoke with a frightened start, she crept up to my chest and kneaded her paws as if to comfort me. I kept much to myself in those days. She came in the evenings also and curled up on my lap as I watched television. Sometimes, following some internal timetable, she refused to nap and held my hand down with her paws so that I couldn’t stroke her to sleep. I experimented with my other hand, which she also imprisoned. Her eyes glazed over and she actually nodded off twice before jerking awake. Apparently, she had something else to do than sleep, perhaps a rendezvous out in the woods across the road, a hunt laid on with other cats, or a visit on one of her rounds of homes. I loved her face, an overgrown kitten’s, with its white mouth and great, golden eyes.
Then Pinky came into my life.
Whenever they met in the house, my loaner cat stiffened at the sight of the other. She averted her head from my caress. If I happened to serve Pinky her dish of cat milk first, she marched out of the house. I had to run after her and carry her in. She purred thunderously at that. What a fraud! And how human. (A note about the milk: cats cannot digest ordinary milk, but lactose-free milk worked.)
To my sorrow, she came less and less often. Pinky consoled me and, furthermore, I had her at night.
Loaner did drop in one evening while Pinky lay on my lap. They made eye contact. Pinky’s heart thumped hard on my knee.
My encounters with Loaner outside, in the backyard or somewhere on the block, were always joyous ones. There, she reverted to her old self, rubbing against me and offering me her white belly to scratch. Once, while in the car, I saw her entering a yard far from home. Her looks are distinctive: big belly and shaggy coat, as well as her special face. I pulled over and called to her. She turned and replied, though I couldn’t hear her.
Not long ago I was entering my garage when I spotted her chasing after me down the driveway. I got out of the car, dropping everything, and scooped her into my arms. We cuddled, I crooned, she drooled. I had purchased jumbo shrimp for Pinky’s treats, and tore open the package and began breaking off little pieces for Loaner. She ate hungrily. I fed her another. Shrimp is rich for cats, I know. Should I give her one more? She pawed the package, and I caved in and gave her a third one.
Smelling the shrimp, Pinky came into the garage, and Loaner pushed away from me and walked off.
Face-to-face meetings between the two in the house were often rambunctious. Hearing noises coming from the bedroom, I investigated. From under the bedskirt, Pinky’s slim black paws were sparring with Loaner. Then she dashed out from cover and fled through the house. She raced around and around like a mad thing, while Loaner rampaged in the bedroom. When both left the house, I went around straightening rugs and picking up toppled objects on tables. There’s life in this old house, I thought. Good going.
No matter how much time passes, Loaner remains the same with me – as long as we are alone together. How human that is.
A MOST AMIABLE CAT
Au Au and I met on a neighbor’s front drive. She was just passing through as I chatted with my neighbor, Jane. It took one stroke of the head, and next day she turned up on my doorstep. She is large, long, and sleek, a creamy pale orange all over with an unusually pointed face. My lap entranced her. She could trap me in place for hours if I didn’t, regretfully, have to move her to another chair. She then occupied that chair for the hours she preferred to spend on my lap. I nicknamed her Laptop, then Laprobe, for obvious reasons. Finally, I dubbed her Au Au because of the small noises she made while rubbing her face against the doorjamb and furniture. As far as I can verify, my view hindered by her long coat, she is a girl. Loaner once stabbed me with a pointed claw for attempting to find out her gender. They are girls, I decide. I never know where any of the cats come from, but that is the nature of cats with so much freedom to roam. Pinky is the only one who asked to stay.
Pinky tolerates Au Au, more or less. I was ill abed for a day, and both cats kept me company. Pinky went to work licking Au Au, her face, her head, her ears, her neck, on and on and on. Au Au took it all placidly, her eyes closed and lying quite still. When Pinky finished her labors she lay down next to Au Au and placed an arm over her. They snoozed like that for a long time. I watched them, thinking of the unexpected change in my personal fortunes. Lonely no longer and, moreover, captivated by the living instruments of that change, I felt luckier than I had in years.
When they woke up, Pinky decided she had shared enough, and emitted a mild hiss that immediately evicted Au Au from my bed. Pinky is amiable, too, but being so much smaller than the others she can summon up a fighting spirit for her turf when she has to. Her last bastion now is my bed. Still, I have to help her get enough to eat. When competition overwhelms her, she climbs to the highest point in the kitchen, the windowsill, where I place her dish.
In bed, she either camps at my feet or comes to my side for a session of scratching and paw holding or head cupping. While we sleep I sometimes hold her foot, just to stay in contact. She works her legs like a forklift operator, levering right and left or away. I obey, because it amuses me to do so. I have not smiled in the dark recently that I can recall.
I went out back one day and spied Loaner lying near my lemon tree. I was happy to see her and called her name. She replied with a perfunctory meow, her gaze fixed on something under the lemon tree. The object of her attention was round, with pink, star-shaped toes and a long pink fleshy nose. Upside down and helpless to right itself, it waved its feet and uttered “bleahhhh.” A mole! Loaner patted it, gently, then returned to watching. Soon Pinky appeared and also settled down to view this new thing. Then Au Au came. Down the path a vividly orange cat made as if to join us then, seeing me, veered off into the brush.
We crouched there for some minutes, with me wondering what I should do about the mole. I pitied it, yet was reluctant to break up the cats’ fun. This is what cats do, I reasoned. They hunt, they learn, they play. Who was I to spoil things for them? With this excuse to do nothing, I did not move. Pinky dabbed at the mole, and so did Au Au. The mole owned a velvety gray fur coat. In books I read trappers wrapped their rifles, knives, and Bibles in moleskin. Was that the real thing, or some kind of fabric? Those were my pseudo-scientific speculations; I can’t say what the cats were thinking.
Suddenly, Pinky and Au Au rolled the mole into the open and began playing soccer with it. Loaner got up as I hesitated, about ready to rescue the mole. She headed for the steps up to the house. I followed. We were to be alone together! After she had her milk treat, we spent a sweet five minutes with her on my lap. I must sit on the floor for this now, as she will not go near any chairs or couches tainted by Pinky or Au Au. I try carrying her to a place to sit but she wails in protest and struggles to get free. But my lap, isn’t it tainted as well?
When she left, I went outside to check on the soccer game. Pinky and Au Au were gone. I hunted, and found the mole intact, upside down again, and wedged under a rock. I lifted it by its rat-like tail and dropped it into the thick brush not too far, I hoped, from home.
GIFTS OF ESTEEM
For a small cat, Pinky’s tread is not subtle. I hear her drumming down the hall and know something is up. She bursts into my office, carrying something in her mouth. She drops it by my chair and meows several times in case I have not noticed that she has brought me a mouse, which is not yet dead.
Renato, help! Thank you, Pinky. Can you take it away now? Instead, she treats me to a display of toss-and-catch and hockey moves. Her rear end sticks up as she swats the mouse. I am hoping the mouse will soon die or that she will take her operations outside. I stare at my computer screen, type a word: “and,” and have no idea what I was meaning to say.
Finally Pinky is done and strolls off. I fetch several paper towels and go to dispose of the mouse. I have received anonymous gifts on my front doormat, as well, in various stages of dismemberment.
Each day after the first mouse, I receive a bird, a second mouse, another bird, no end of gifts of esteem, topped by a little snake. The snake is dark gray, with a bead-like band around its neck, and has a pattern of red dots under its pointed tail. It is still alive, too. Luckily, it is parked on the inside doormat. All I need do is lift the mat and dump the snake into the brush in front.
By now I am hardened, until she brings a bird that is alive. My course of action is clear. I must wring its neck and put it out of its misery. Instead, I lock myself in the bathroom, where I stay for ten minutes. When I emerge, Pinky and the bird have disappeared.
Then we enter the week of lizards. I am usually in the office when she brings her trophies. As she drops it to announce her gift, the lizard darts away and Pinky’s triumph is muffled as she darts after it. I enter the fray, for there are plenty of places for the lizard to hide. It is still hiding in the lowest bookshelf. Pinky thinks so. She spends at least an hour each day keeping vigil there.
A friend asked, Do you get any Blue Boys? I had never heard of Blue Boys. Now I know. The latest lizard is on its back and its belly has a blue stripe on each side.
Watch out for alligator lizards, my friend said. They get mean.
This alligator lizard is about eight inches long, looks like it has just climbed out of the Bayou, and tries to do its best to latch onto Pinky’s tail. I yell, and we both dance around as it keeps lunging. My usual method of ridding the house of gifts is not going to work this time. I fetch a wooden pencil and stick it in front of its nose. Instantly, it chomps down on the pencil, which I lift and raise high so Pinky cannot slap it down. I head for the door, Pinky trotting by my side. Outside, I swing the pencil, but the lizard has such a grip I cannot throw it away. Pinky is frantic to have her alligator back and leaps onto the railing to reach it. Finally, I descend the steps and scrape the lizard off on a tree trunk. The chunk gouged out of the pencil impresses me. At once Pinky plunges into the shrubbery after it.
Her gifts also are delivered to my bed. At 10:30 p.m. she explodes onto the bed with a mouse. It is wounded, and I go to the kitchen to fetch an oven mitt. Out the door with the mouse. At 2:30 a.m., she flies up with another. I switch on the light in time to see it get away from her. I bolt out of bed and in the next fifteen minutes we chase it around the room. I yell, over here! Under the chair! Behind the cushion! I am not thinking of what the neighbors might be thinking.
The mouse shows its stuff. Every time Pinky closes in it leaps, squeaking, several inches in the air. Then it is gone behind my dressing table.
Resigned, I pull the heavy dresser out. Pinky and my stick get in each other’s way as I sweep. The mouse comes out, and disappears again, either back inside or somewhere else. At any rate, Pinky gallops up the hall in pursuit.
Apparently it is still in the house. She spends hours guarding the dresser. I think she expects me to take up sentry duty when she has to go outside. While I am in the office, no doubt she believes I am guarding the lizard hiding in the bookshelves.
Loaner once announced a gift of hers by calling from the outside, though the patio door was open. Her small voice probably traveled no more than five feet, yet I heard her and went to see. Lying on the mat was a full-sized rat, its bared incisors frightening in their length. I admired Loaner’s delicacy in bringing it no farther into the house and duly made a fuss over her. Satisfied she had pleased me, she came inside, leaving the rat, and watched TV with me.
It is time to make my periodic brief trip out of town. The casino in Reno has been insistent, warning me that my considerable reward points-for-merchandise will expire if I do not freshen them up soon. I don’t want to leave home. The idea of being without Pinky for two nights makes me sad. A pox on those reward points! I do not need a new vacuum cleaner, a new TV, and especially do I not want to earn more points toward a cruise. Yet I had worked hard for those points; I certainly did not want to give them back to the casino.
I made a reservation for one night and booked a flight.
In the casino I earned more reward points here and there, had an early dinner, and went up to bed. I called my neighbor friend, Jane, and told her that for two cents I would take a flight home right then. She said not to be foolish. I was there. I should have fun, make the most of it. She added, Pinky will be fine, don’t worry about her. I replied that actually I was worried about me. I missed that little monkey. She laughed and said I should harden myself because I would be coming back to Reno again. Oh, no, I’m not, I thought. I will redeem my points for a tractor if necessary and end my association with this place. I wondered where and how Pinky was going to spend the night.
My return flight next day arrived at 6:30 p.m. and I rushed home, entering the house by the side garage door. A mouse lay on the rug but there was no sign of Pinky.
That night in bed I lay in the dark, waiting. Finally I heard a small “Meow?” and said, in relief, “I’m here. Come on up.” A reunion is a fine thing, indeed.
Tango is large and rangy, with legs like a jack rabbit’s. Her coat is a deep orange with white belly and socks. Her voice squeezes out like this: EEUH, and sounds sad. I try to speak as she does and am rewarded by a startled look. She is also scared, affectionate, and needful. Despite her avoidance of the mole conclave that day by the lemon tree, she has followed the trail to the pet door. Her appetite is bottomless. I am now purchasing two sacks of cat chow at a time. Of all the chairs there are in the house, she likes to lie on mine at the dining table. When having my breakfast, I must sit on the edge, often on her feet, which she likes. I reach behind and find a nose, a paw, and always a tongue. Even after weeks, she is uncertain of her welcome. She has been sensing my own uncertainty about having her as a frequent visitor, and I know I send out conflicting signals. I am afraid Pinky might be feeling crowded. Between Tango and Au Au they clean out the food dish, leaving nothing for Pinky. The private food stash in the bedroom is no longer a secret. At night I awaken to crunching noises, Tango’s always louder than Au Au’s. Loaner, having once caught her tail in the pet door, enters the house only if the big door is open. Pinky does not get between the large cats and their food, and she grows so hungry that she has started waking me up at 5:30 for her breakfast. I pull the covers over my head but she is relentless, marching up and down my body, until I surrender at about 6:00. After she eats, I have my own breakfast, and blearily read the newspaper, unless Tango is sitting on it and rubbing her face against mine. She likes to sample everything I drink, even my tea. Another time, she dipped a paw into my wine and had herself a drop or two. And she is the only cat who will drink from the dish of water I keep next to the food dish. The others go outside to the bird bath, which I must scrub every day.
Tango wishes she had fingers, I know. Her efforts to pick up objects of interest with her paw are futile, and so I help her. I feed her the pumpkin seeds she wants, one at a time, she chomping industriously. Then I discover a small pile of them on my lap. She had been spitting them out of the side of her mouth.
“I know cats,” my friend Gail said. “Do not do it. It’s going to be a disaster.”Tango is a calm, friendly cat, I argued. She will take it very well, and I want to take her to Nancy. Nancy, my homebound friend, would love it. Nothing interesting has happened for her for a long time.
So I purchased a harness because I knew I could not carry both Tango–at least 22 pounds at last weighing–and the carrier. As a test the day before our trip I slipped it on Tango, who didn’t mind, though she walked oddly. All of a sudden she was bent almost to the floor. I called to her as she inched past me but she was intent on her progress across the rug. When I removed the harness she bounded upright and out of the house. For me, the experiment was working and I looked forward to our adventure next day.
On Sunday morning I fitted the harness on her again, only this time one of the straps would not go behind a front leg. No matter, I thought. We’ll be safe in the car. I clipped the leash on and picked her up, entered the garage, opened the car door, and set her inside.
She froze for an instant, then began distractedly to move about. She emitted a loud cry and I quickly got in. For the next two miles Tango’s voice filled the car. She climbed into the backseat, shedding the harness as she did so, then got onto my shoulders and wrapped herself around my neck. Her cries bored straight into my left ear.
I should have turned around and gone home then, but I was determined to do this. After all, we were almost at Nancy’s house.
After I parked I gathered her up in my arms and started up the steps to Nancy’s. Her caregiver, waiting at the open door, remarked “I’m allergic to cats,” and left the house. I said, Tango has come to visit you, Nancy, and released her. Another error. Tango headed straight for the sofa and got under it.
Nancy said, “That’s terrific. Uh, what color was she?”
After about 20 minutes of chat I felt it was time to take Tango home, so I began to move furniture. A lamp fell over. A pile of magazines collapsed. A flap of upholstery stuck out, over Tango’s face, and I grabbed her. Nancy hung my purse on one arm, put my car keys in my free hand, and I headed outside.
The ride home was the same, with Tango wrapped around my shoulders. Her sad song ceased as soon as she realized we were in our garage. She forgave me handily but I have still to forgive myself.
Gail, if you read this, you were so right, and I will never never do it again.
Au Au uses the water dish as a finger bowl. She skims a paw across the top, then licks it, again across the top, then licks it. A shortcut to personal grooming. One night we heard noises from the kitchen, and Au Au went to investigate. Since there are always noises in the kitchen, I wondered why Au Au bothered with this one. In a few seconds she was back, bounced on the bed, once, and ran off again. Summoned,I got up to go see. She hung behind me. An animal of some kind streaked off so quickly I could not see what it was in the beam of my flashlight. I went back to bed, but Au Au did an unaccustomed thing. She crawled under the bed, only her tail showing.
In these Oakland hills in northern California, the invader could have been a fox, a squirrel, or the usual raccoon or skunk. We have opossums, which do not move quickly no matter how alarmed. Some nights we hear a cougar scream in the woods, and one evening as Renato and I rounded the curve on our road, our headlights caught the green gleam of a cougar’s eyes. The distance between us was about 100 feet. Renato braked, and we sat still, staring. The lion was bigger than a German Shepherd, a tawny color, and its rounded shoulders as it sat were bigger than my own, or my husband’s for that matter. Its supple tail flew behind it as it ran off.
Tango is aware of things most cats pay no attention to, for she will watch baseball on TV and turn her head to track players as they run (not nearly often enough for me). The big kitchen clock with its ticking second hand fascinates her as she tries to capture it.
She behaves like a bratty kid sister with Au Au, prodding her with a paw until Au Au wakes up and, patiently, does a job of licking Tango about the face, after which she goes back to sleep.
My ambivalence about Tango’s presence has to do with this: so far Pinky has managed to hold an exclusive on my bed. Our naps together are precious to me. Another cat there inhibits her displays of affection. As it is, she is more reserved when the others are in the house. I am afraid she will begin to keep her distance from me like Loaner. Au Au doesn’t often try to join us on the bed, but Tango hasn’t yet learned the rules. Once, I picked her up where she was happily asleep in the center of my bed and set her down on the living room sofa. I felt mean and unhappy, but she didn’t come back. Oh, yes, again I decide that she is a girl.
Not so about Moon Cake, who resembles a Maine Coon Cat with calico colorations, I have tried saying “Semi-Maine-Coon,” but found Moon Cake rolled off the tongue more easily. A calico, I have learned, is invariably female. This handsome cat keeps to herself and growls when other cats come near. She comes through the pet door to eat. Having eaten, she will accept a stroke or two on the head, but does not stay and I do not encourage her to. Yet, when we are alone she will jump on the counter and rub faces with me. This is a trait I notice in cats: they are aloof from me when around the others, affectionate when alone with me.
I wonder if she has been spayed. There is no way I plan to find out.
Which brings me to my concerns about Pinky. It is time to take her to the vet.
FULL MOON, FULL HOUSE
I purchase a carrier, make an appointment with the vet, and set myself, not without a deal of anxiety, to get Pinky into the carrier. The two attempts to place her in it are harrowing failures. After the first try I do not know when, if ever, she will return home after her flight. After the second struggle, she runs only as far as the patio where she sits under the railing overlooking the lemon tree. I show her my bleeding finger. Gently, she licks the blood away and rubs her cheek against the wound. I forgive her at once. Again, I call the vet to cancel. The receptionist is understanding. An appointment with a cat owner is contingent upon availability of cat.
On another day I call the vet’s again. To my bemusement, the different receptionist asks how to spell Pinky. I am pleased, though, that Pinky is being taken seriously.
I manage to get Pinky into the carrier, not without a tussle. Her orange fish I have placed inside the carrier does not calm her fears. In the car, she lets go with despairing yowls. The power and volume of her voice surprise me. She is sure she is going to be killed. One green eye peers at me through a vent hole.
The vet is a Chinese man from Peru. Pinky had been quiet since we left the car. The form I have filled out, except for my own information, is blank except for her name. He looks at me. I explain.
He nods, understanding, and takes her away to run a series of tests. After a while, he returns with her hanging limply from his arm. Pinky is composed, resigned to her fate.
She is in good shape, he says. Shall we give her the shots?
He gives her half the doses, the second to be administered in three weeks. This dismays me. We have to go through this at home again! But I learn three things I have been dying to know. She is about three years old, no more than five, weighs eight pounds, and she has been spayed. Sorrow stabs my heart. No one ever asks a cat, dog, or horse for permission to stunt their lives. Yet – and there is a terrible human necessity in this– I would have asked the vet to perform the procedure. At the same time, I am giddy because she is so young, and I will have her a long time.
For the fun of it, he and I converse in Spanish. Renato and I lived fifteen years in Brazil, with intermittent trips to Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, and we developed a language when traveling there that everyone else who lives in those countries calls Portuñol, for Portuguese-Español.
He asks why this tortoiseshell cat is named Pinky.
I show him her one pink toe.
Lógico, he says, smiling.
She is mostly quiet on our way home. For all she knows, she is going to another place to be murdered. At home, as soon as she is free of the carrier, she walks around the house, the patio, the yard, as though to make sure nothing has changed. She stays close to me the rest of the day.
We won’t have to do this again for one year! And then I remember we must return in three weeks for the second dose of shots.
Tango and Pinky vie for possession of my lap. While Tango is occupying the space, Pinky trots up and stares at her. I move Tango to the table, whereupon Pinky jumps up and lies on her back so I may perform my duties, scratching her belly and her cheeks and chin. Tango edges over, leans down and begins chewing on Pinky, who swats her. I break up the interaction before it becomes serious. During the next hour, one or the other takes turns occupying my lap. This inspires some new words for the song “This Land is My Land:”
This lap is my lap
This is not your lap
This lap is not for you but me
My room is full of cats. Au Au is walking the windowsill at the back of my bed, Tango prowls the room. Moon Cake has been in and out. Even Pinky is sitting up on my feet, alert. I can see all this because moonlight is pouring into the room. A strangled yowling sets up outside. At once, all the cats, even Pinky, heads for the door.
Is that Moon Cake calling? Big doings are on tonight. When Pinky comes home at dawn, flying upon my bed as always in greeting, I stroke her serenely. I hope the other girls are safe, but at least I know Pinky is.
JUST START WITHOUT ME
I have read that cats nap 18 hours a day. Since the advent of Pinky I seem to be napping almost that many hours along with her. What can I say – she is irresistible as a napping companion. She has ways of letting me know she is ready for a snooze by staring at me, jumping on and off my lap, or circling my chair. My book is steaming ahead, but I answer the summons and shut down.
Pinky’s attitude of repose is an art form, toes are tucked behind my ears, her arms pointed skyward above her head. The world is our tiny domain. I read for a while before I doze off. How long does not matter. I don’t even hear the telephone ring. My friends have learned to call me in the evening. Being retired and accountable to no one, I have no cares about time. Besides, I need to make up for my erratic nights and Pinky’s reveille calls.
When we wake up we both str-e-e-tch and produce prodigious yawns. If it is still morning, I get up to see about lunch. If it is evening, the TV news can wait. The news will reach me soon enough.
Sometimes she chooses to sleep in a drawer. I have not allowed her into my lingerie drawer, therefore she is more curious about that one. Often I am careless about shutting them fully. One day I find her sitting amid a mound of my underwear, as she pulls more out through the gap with a hooked paw. Instead of chasing her away, I sit down and watch to see how long she persists. Pinky continues happily until she can no longer reach then, bored, she trots off.
Some evenings she comes inside to the dining room, eyes my lap momentarily, then goes to the kitchen for a bite to eat. Afterward, she trots quickly back outside. I know she is headed for a drink from the bird bath. Likewise, I trot to the bathroom and rush back to my chair and put up my feet, just in time, as she comes around the corner and jumps onto my lap. I can plan ahead as well as she can. She lies lengthwise, belly up, and I go to work on her. She is content if I only hold her legs. Those half-closed green eyes tell me so.
On cool nap days, she lies bundled up and tucked in. Her back is to me. I poke her in the hip and say, “Come on, gimme a leg,” and she does. She sticks out a leg for me to hold.
And on another cool day, my one exposed hand was cold and I nudged her with it and said playfully, “Get this one under, too, please.” Before I knew it, she had swept that hand into her warm, furry haven.
Sometimes I awake to a sensation of a light touch across my face. It is Pinky, her back to me, as her tail does the brushwork. I had dared to fall asleep before her return.
I like to slide my feet under the blanket, under her, and bounce, hard, while singing, fromSouth Pacific, “Talk about the moon, talk about the stars.”She hangs tight, her tail whipping about for balance.
One time at night she placed all four paws in my hand. I thought muzzily about this. Between dreams I mused about this cat who came into my life. Why did she come to my door and look inside if she didn’t know me and was scared of me? Why follow me for days and days until that turning point when she spoke her piece?
Why did Loaner come inside and, without having been courted, show me such sweetness?
Renato, what is this all about?
SHRIMP BOAT’S A-COMIN’
Pinky knows what those rustling noises mean. I am getting her two big shrimp out of the bag in the freezer. Before they are in the microwave to defrost, she has taken her place on the counter. Chopping the shrimp requires agility to keep ahead of her as I move from counter to counter to stovetop until the feast is ready. Watching her eat brings out every drop of the one-fourth Italian in me. “Mangia, mangia,” I say, beaming, my hands clasped over my stomach. It is a satisfaction life seldom affords the average cook.
The treat was intended to be once a week. That proved difficult. It seemed a long stretch to me, too. I spaced the treat to five days, then three days. Now it is every second day. This is where we stand, my last stand.
At the substitute, a teaspoon of ice cream mashed in my hand, she turns her back, though she does not leave the kitchen. It is a comment on lack of shrimp, but there is room to negotiate. I dab a little ice cream on her nose, which she licks clean. She moves a few inches away, and I dab some more ice cream. Finally, she turns and grudgingly approaches my cupped hand. In a few seconds, my palm is licked dry. I know I have spoiled her, yet still I smile like a fool. “Spoil” is a relative word: Pinky does not have to attend college, get a job, or move out on her own.
It is always an ordeal when I try to apply her monthly flea drops. Last month she struggled and got away from me. She stayed clear of me all day while I worried about how I would get this job done. I decided there was no way but to ambush her when she jumped on the bed, if she was still of a mind to join me there that night. Apparently, she believed she was safe on the bed, for she came. I clamped an arm around her and did the deed. At that she looked around at me, clearly in disbelief that I would stoop to such a betrayal of trust.
In a flash she was gone. My heart felt heavy as a tomb. Whether she was pussy cat or human, betraying a trust is not an easy sin to commit. She did not come back that night.
Next morning she did not climb to the kitchen windowsill for her breakfast, but watched me from the doorway. I could not read those green lantern-shine eyes. Do you want your breakfast? I tapped the saucer. She turned, went outside through the pet door. I pushed the saucer through the pet door and set it down on the mat, and she bent to eat. Next day, we were friends again, for she jumped up to the windowsill and watched me fix her breakfast. But when I put the plate on the sill she came down and hid under the furniture. I followed and set the saucer down, but then she moved to the pet door and went through, where she lingered, looking in at me.
Big light bulb over my head! She wanted to see her breakfast appear again through the pet door!
Loaner has grown very fat. She eats all she can, and asks for more. Perhaps she is pregnant. All I need do is glance out my kitchen window and I will see her sitting on the railing looking at me. Unwilling to grapple with the pet door, she waits to be noticed and let in. I wave, and we arrive at the same moment at the patio door. Her weight worries me. It might be that her owner has put her on a diet and so she turns to me or eats elsewhere. Perhaps I should keep my head down and pretend not to see her. As I think it I know it is impossible to ignore her.
One day I take it in my head to make a beef stew. All the good stews I used to prepare took hours of simmering that now seem absurd in my solitary existence, but this day I mean to have myself one of those.
Pinky watches the process of chopping, peeling, scraping, but when it comes to cutting the beef I have to flee around the counters ahead of her as I do when chopping shrimp.
I am going to show you, I say to Pinky, what a home-cooked meal tastes like.
As I dish out the stew, I set some aside on a plate for her. She sniffs, then turns her head aside and throws up.
Pinky, the food editor.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME
I purchase pepper spray over the Internet. In the order box I select the visor clip-on model. I don’t care if I save 50 cents if it comes by ground. Just send it.
That mouse living behind our stove is going to receive the shock of its life. Since it has been so clever about avoiding the glue traps and the traditional ones baited with peanut butter, I will wage all-out war. The mouse that Pinky chased up the hall has been lodged, first under the refrigerator, and then behind the stove.
Each night I have been moving the cat chow and water dish to another room. This has been self-delusion. The mouse will roam anywhere it wants. And it does, for Pinky lets me know the mouse is now behind Renato’s couch. That is when I order the pepper spray.
The instructions are simple: point at attacker at three feet distance and spray. Effects last 45 minutes.
I pull the couch out a foot and make sure that Pinky is outside the door, which I leave slightly ajar. To her mind, ajar is not wide enough to slip through and she will wait until someone comes to open the door properly.
On my hands are oven mitts, which will be demoted to mouse mitts should they ever come in contact with a mouse.
One, two, three! I spray behind the couch. It isn’t a spray that emerges but a full stream of liquid. There. If the mouse runs out I am ready to grab it. Of course, I count on its being blinded. Pinky is my backup. I look behind to check that she is out of harm’s way.
What I see is Pinky’s little black paw swiping through the gap in the door and I stare a moment too long. The next thing I know my eyes and nose are streaming and I am coughing. I run for the door, and Pinky comes in as I rush out. In a second she, too, has joined me in the hall coughing and sneezing. The mouse? Neither of us saw it, if it was there.
The mouse has begun to pull insulation from the stove. Whenever I look there I see tufts of fibers all over the back of it, behind the bottom drawer. Is it a nest in progress? In a panic, I call an exterminator company. The technicians who come are two large men, one carrying a clipboard. They make me feel as though the Marines have arrived and will have the situation under control very soon. I assume they will pull the stove out from the wall and trap the mouse in no time at all. Instead, they bait several new traps they have brought, borrowing my peanut butter, and lay those down along with some glue traps. I have had glue traps in there also, but theirs are larger. They show me how I have set the triggers on my traps incorrectly, then they go down to the basement and look around the crawl space under the house. They spread a few more traps around that area. One is a large one in case my mouse is a rat.
They take my $200 and hand me a service warranty good for thirty days. After they leave, I remove the traps in the basement crawl space. Pinky likes to roam around there while I do the laundry. If any mice or rats exist there she will catch them. After all, she caught the one outside in the wild that now lives in our house, and seven or eight more that I managed to throw out the back.
For a week of nights, I get up at the slightest noise from the kitchen. After that, I pay no attention, and neither does Pinky, Au Au, or Tango. Periodic checks prove the mouse is well and happy and contemptuous of the traps.
I buy boxes of mouse poison at the hardware store. I have not used it before because the label warns that a cat who eats a poisoned mouse will die. The poisoned mouse, says the label, will become dehydrated and emerge from hiding desperate for water. I remove all traces of water in the house, including the dish set out for the cats. The only one to drink from it has been Tango, anyway, and she can always go out to the bird bath like the others.
Then, then I do something cunning, I hope. I take the tiniest bottle cap I can find, add water to it and delicately place it on a trap. Crazed for a drink, the mouse will go to the only water there is in the house. It will not live to run outside to endanger Pinky or any other cat.
FAKE NOSE, MOUSTACHE AND SPECTACLES
For three consecutive, delirious mornings, Loaner and I meet in our secret place. First, of course, conditions must be exactly right: not only no other cats near, but far away and out of sight.
She runs ahead of me and goes through the boxwoods to the lawn. I flop down and she gets aboard and pounds and kneads me happily. It is always my left shoulder she leans against while I sing and talk to her. Her eyes in the pretty face gleam and she chirrups during our session, so different from her aloofness when she is in the house – the place contaminated by interlopers.
Meanwhile, my robe is being soaked through by heavy dew right to the skin. I shiver, and sneeze.
Next morning, when conditions are right for us once more, I fetch a flat box from the garage and head for our place. Loaner hangs back, apparently suspicious of the box. Why am I carrying it? Do I plan to put her in the box? As I move onto the grass Loaner is nowhere beside me, but looking around I notice her ears pointing above the ground ivy at the head of the lawn as she peers at me through it. I drop the box on the grass and sit down.
Aha! She sees the purpose of the box, and comes running to join me.
On the third morning she runs ahead as before, then when I drop the box she sprawls all over it and looks up at me. Do cats laugh? I know they do.
Then there is a long spell when she is moody even when we are alone. She has me following her, box in my hand, up one path, down another. She stops for some personal grooming and ignores me. Out of patience, I sit on the box several feet from her and say, “I know you think I have no pride, but I am going to count to ten, and if you don’t come running to me by then I won’t speak to you ever again.”
I reach the count of five, when suddenly she darts to me and onto my lap.
I don’t know how or why. Perhaps it was the tone of my voice.
TANGO, THE NURSE
Tango is asleep on my lap when she starts up at noises of cats fighting. She dashes outside, and I follow. By the time I reach the deck railing the fight is over, but there is a blond cat sprawled with its head under cover. There is no sign of the cat who fought with it. The vanquished cat is not Loaner, who is bigger; nor Au Au, whose coat is paler.
Tango is crouched near the distressed cat and looks up at me as if asking for help. I go down the steps, and at the sound of my approach the unknown cat lurches to its feet and scurries away, Tango escorting it.
As they disappear, I become aware that Pinky is looking on from the top step, and Au Au is doing the same from the far end of the patio.
Fifteen minutes later, Tango returns to the house, jumps on my lap, and goes right back to sleep. I stroke her in wonder. I have just seen something special. Wild elephant cows stay with their sick or wounded companions. Are there many more animals than we know who do this?
One day I accidentally poke her in the eye. Before I can make amends, she runs out of the house. From then on, she avoids contact, slinking away when I call her to me. I am distressed that she no longer trusts me. Still, she comes to eat and afterward finds a distant place in the house to sleep. How to approach her? I enter the living room, get on my knees, and lie flat on the rug on which she is sleeping under the coffee table. My head pressed lower than hers, I extend a hand to her, all the while asking her to trust me again. Instantly, Tango rises to lick my fingers, rubs her face against mine, then climbs on my back and kneads me up and down. It is magical. One doesn’t tower over children when trying to make friends. Cats are no different.
My dinner is broiled fish steak, the dish so hot that I must place it on a straw mat. Tango follows her nose and lights upon the table to investigate. Rebuffed, she lies down a foot away. I am watching the evening news and, almost too late, become aware that the dish is receding from me. Tango has drawn it right to herself before I rescue my dinner and pluck her claws from the mat. Her ingenuity so impresses me that I put a piece of the fish on a saucer for her.
It seems to me that I have long ago thrown discipline out the window, but we enjoy our dinners peacefully.
BANDITS AT 2 O’CLOCK
A racket in the kitchen gets me up. It is the next day already and Pinky has not yet come home.
As always, I cannot bear to switch on the harsh overhead light but rely on my flashlight. A number of gray forms swoosh past me, headed for the door, then they are through the pet door, all except one. It is a young raccoon, huddled in a corner in fright. The family pack outside, two adults and three kits, linger outside the door. The light of the half moon shows me how large the adults are, yet they got through the six-inch pet door without trouble, which proves they are really skinny as snakes under their coats. I open the door and attempt to move the lost one outside. The kit does not move; instead, its family crowds into the doorway, growling like dogs.
I arm myself with Pinky’s toy-scooping dowel and attempt to fence them off. They do not move away one inch. I then try to push the huddled kit with it toward the door. It pushes away the thin stick with its hands.
Finally, I find a cushion and herd the kit toward the door. This works. The family absorbs the kit and moves away, still growling. It occurs to me then that raccoons not only bite but kill cats. I scream after them, “If you’ve killed Pinky I’ll get you all!”
Forced to leave the door unlatched, I return to bed but cannot sleep. They may have gotten Pinky, and that may be why she hasn’t yet come home. A few minutes later, I hear a clatter at the door. The dowel is on the floor. Outside, a big raccoon watches as I pick it up and replace it on the sill. Payback!
At the usual hour after dawn I rise and fix myself cereal. No sign of Pinky. I fetch the paper but cannot bring myself to read it. Back to bed to stare at a Pinky-less future.
At about 8:00 a.m. I see her flagpole of a tail headed past my bedroom doorway toward my office, then back the other way. Then she emits tiny cries, no doubt looking for me.
We meet in the kitchen. I am dying to know so many things: did she encounter the raccoons? Was she hiding from them? Otherwise, what has she been doing until this hour of the day? Instead, I settle for fixing her special breakfast, Savory Salmon Dinner.
I happen to be in the hallway, crossing to the living room, when she explodes through the pet door. Close behind her is a raccoon. I move fast and latch the pet door, while Pinky and the raccoon stare at each other through the glass, Pinky whining angrily high in her throat. The next thing I do is open the door and yell “Scat! Go away!” It lumbers off, not quickly.
I go to bed, unnerved that she can be killed as easily as she kills mice and birds. It’s fair, I suppose, and she is equable about it. Yet that night she stays high under my arm and does not move away the entire time. I need the same comfort she is seeking.
AND THEN THERE IS…
Miss Dusty. A neighbor died and I adopted her cat, a handsome gray with a white diamond on her chest and white feet. She had no tail, having lost it in an accident at home. I understood that Miss Dusty had not met with another human being or cat for eight years. This became obvious when she led her owner’s daughter-in-law and me on a chase throughout the house, in and out of one entrapment and another. After a month, we captured her at last. Her coat was a sad mess; her back was matted and stood up in a hard-looking Mohawk.
I thought to start her out in my basement until she acclimated to her surroundings. Time enough to acquaint her with the cats upstairs. There was nothing I could do about having her cleaned and brushed; I was, simply, afraid to touch her even if I could catch her.
Each time I went downstairs she growled, then the growls diminished, changing to meows. I tried singing to her. At “Over the Rainbow” she emerged, grudgingly, from her hiding place under a shelf, and allowed me to scratch her head. I tried not to make any sudden moves, but even so she swiped at me with a paw now and then. But we had begun a friendship!
Then one day she was gone, and I surmised she had gotten through an opening by the clothes washer to the crawl space under the house.
She did eat the food I left her and I saw she used the litter box. Two weeks afterward, we met as she emerged from the crawl space. She was terrible excited, meowing continuously and danced about, as though to tell me of her adventures in her new living space. She allowed me to scratch her head, even so giving me a bloody swipe between meows. I showed her I had fresh treats with me, which she ate quickly. In a minute she had gone back into her crawl space.
Over nine months we encountered each other only two or three times more, and each time she hid until I went away. She no longer used the litter box, so I imagined her building up a new kind of topsoil under the house.
Pinky and the others liked to go downstairs; all sniffed around the food dishes and the litter box. None of them was accustomed to using one. Up until now, I had been blessed with cats who had been brought up in the wild and used it freely.
I worried about Miss Dusty’s way of life, her lack of sunlight, vaccinations, and everything else Pinky had. It hurt my heart to think of her skulking about in the darkness downstairs.
Then, one evening, I came home and spotted Miss Dusty, no other, hiding under some shrubbery in the back yard. How had she done this? Come up the basement stairs, gone through the house and exited through the pet door? Never mind. I rejoiced at her self-liberation and placed food at the door of the patio. Of course, every raccoon in the woods appeared first, but I persisted until she came up the patio steps and, scared and uncertain, she found the food and ate.
Though it was the middle of March and cold, I left the patio door ajar. On the third day, she entered the house. Pinky began to bristle, and Miss Dusty faced off with her!
The visiting cats were merely curious and Pinky settled down to circling around the new one. Tango lost out. Miss Dusty took possession of the thick sleeping pad I had bought Tango, who liked to stay overnight now and then. Well, there were lots of other places she could crash. Now we had a full house every night in the bedroom, Pinky sharing my bed, and Miss Dusty on her sleeping pad. I made plans to have her bathed, vaccinated, and that Mohawk shaved. In the meantime, she always slept facing me, her thunderous purring loud in the room.
THE GOOD LIFE
Late spring, amongst all the foliage and woods where I live, is a season of bounty for birds. If they get as much to eat as all the seeds the cats have picked up on their coats, that will be plenty. The cats are covered with seeds, stickers, and burrs that adhere to my clothes and bedding.
Still, I find that preferable to the rainy season when sometimes two soaking wet cats at a time fly onto my head while I am asleep. I burrow under the covers and allow them to roll about on the quilt to dry themselves. I have had the quilt cleaned twice. Then there are the unspeakable, unmentionable critters that catch a ride on the undercoats of the cats. These, I pick off the quilt with paper towels. I also check my hair.
Early summer is here. Pinky stays out late at night and may not be back until two o’clock in the morning. The mouse parade quickens. The smallest I have ever seen is little more than an inch long and is mostly round. Pinky had cornered it and it huddled against the wall, trembling, while I ran to fetch my indispensable oven mitt. Had Pinky had not adopted me first, I might have adopted that mouse. The biggest mouse is still the one behind the stove. I manage to return all but that one to the wild. For a country mouse, it has the smarts of an inner-city inhabitant.
One afternoon Pinky jumps down from the bed and makes to leave the room. At the doorway she halts, backs up, and ducks behind the door. She bides there a minute or two before advancing and peering around the door, then again retreats. Watching from the bed where I have been reading, I wonder at this behavior. There is no one else in the entire house but us. Finally, she comes back to bed.
As I think on it, the meaning comes clear. I say, quietly, “Hello Renato.”
Pinky and I play GETCHA! every day weather permits, or if not we play it in the house. I stomp menacingly toward her and growl I’M GONNA GETCHA! and she takes off at top speed. As I amble along, she charges me and shoots past my feet. She pauses under a hedge. On cue, I go to the other side and cry “BOBBLEBOBBLEBOBBLE!” over the hedge. She throws me a shocked glare and speeds off. We do this two or three times a week, changing hedges or trees. When she wants to end the game she flops and offers her belly for scratching. I love to see her wiggle in the grass and roll over and over. She is such a package of comfort, freedom, and agility that I wish I were a cat myself. When she lies flat, her long coat flows into the grass. The earth and she are so close I envy her.
I lie down, too, and we both contemplate the tall, old Monterey Pines and sky. My book is nearly done. For a long time after Renato went away, the partial manuscript lay in a drawer. I was helpless to take it up again until, on the first day of the month of January, I sat Pinky on my lap before the computer and, taking her paw, struck the first letter of the opening of a new paragraph. She added a few more letters on her own, but the important thing had been done. I had broken the freeze.
The sun has moved from behind one of the pines and I roll over onto my face. From the house comes the distant eeeuh cries of Tango seeking one of us. She has become Pinky’s sidekick and follower. It is amusing to see her run after her small leader, her jack rabbit legs like furred pistons. When I am not home, Pinky searches for me, too. My friend Jane tells me that recently she opened her kitchen door to find Pinky sitting on the mat. Jane had a long way to look down to find Pinky waiting there patiently. “Wrong house,” she said. “Lucille is next door.”Jane had been vacuuming her house. We both figure out that Pinky, acquainted with the sound of the machine, thinks I am in Jane’s house.
We play variations of GETCHA. Instead of going to the lawn, where I appear to be headed, I continue around the bend and hide. After a while, I peek out and see her running toward me. She has caught on to the trick. I laugh at her and, instead of jumping up on me as a dog might do to share the joke, she walks off and, ignoring me, begins grooming herself by the bird bath.
The next round is hers. She does not follow me to the lawn, and as I wait and wait and finally give up, I come upon her hiding behind a boxwood on the outside, exactly at the place where I walk through.
She has not finished with me yet. We are together on the lawn when she saunters out onto the flagstones. Wondering, I wait. In the next instant she is flying back onto the grass and races in circles around me.
I chalk that one up to her. But next time, I pop up at the precise moment I know she is walking on the other side of the boxwoods toward our rendezvous, and say, “Hi, Shorty. Looking for me?” She stops dead and I realize she is trying to think of her next move. Then she charges onto the grass and climbs up a tree.
Our last, recent game involved my leaving the lawn and hiding behind a boxwood. It was a long wait. Finally, I got up and looked around. No sign of Pinky. Then I saw her, crouched three feet away, on the other side of the same boxwood I was hiding behind. Yes, we have dozens of boxwoods, most of them bordering the lawn on two sides.
Nothing but greenery surrounds us, yet I am always aware that wild animals, particularly raccoons, hide and live in the brush.
Early one afternoon, we are lying peacefully on the grass when we hear odd, soft bleats somewhere near. We have a wire fence at the bottom of the property overlooking the decline to San Francisco Bay. Two young fawns are poking their noses against the fence. I walk down to them. They back away into the tall weeds. Pinky and I stand side by side watching, but they do not come close again. An hour later they are back, and I am becoming concerned, for I do not see their mother. There have been several cougar sightings in our area. I worry that it has taken down the doe and left these fawns defenseless.
Finally, I call Animal Control, hear a voice message that no one is available and to call another number, which turns out to be the police dispatcher. I explain, and he tells me someone will come out.
No one comes. The fawns are still out there, hiding in the tall grasses, but I can see their ears sticking up.At 3:15 a.m. my doorbell rings. A voice outside the door says, “Police!”
He says he has just received the dispatcher’s call and do I want him to go out back and look for the fawns. He and his partner have no noose, no tools of any kind with which to catch animals, especially in the dark, and I tell him it isn’t any use. He departs after advising me to call Animal Control in the daytime. I say I called at 2 p.m.
It is one of those things: Animal Control, firefighters, the police. All are overworked and understaffed.
Next morning the fawns are still there. Once again I call Animal Control, which redirects me to the police dispatcher. This time I think carefully about calling that number. I do not call, and go outside to check on the fawns. I make hourly visits until they have disappeared and do not come back.
Last night I woke up and found Pinky holding my hand, one paw on each side, and purring mightily. I wonder what other surprises she will spring on me.
On the grass today she is sitting up on her legs and is stretched, peering for all the world like an African Meerkat, at something high up in a tree.
Life is good.
P.S. I have finally met the owner of three of the big cats and learned that Tango and Au Au are siblings, and Loaner is their mama. This neighbor had known for some time that Pinky, also a sibling, had defected to me. And Tango and Au Au are male.
P.P.S. I lost Pinky on February 23, 2011. She survived for a year after three surgeries for an aggressive sarcoma. There is nothing more I can bear to say.
This novel by the Bay Area author Lucille Bellucci benefits the East Bay SPCA. If you enjoyed this wonderful and heartwarming story, please consider supporting the SPCA by a donation directly on their web site.
Other work by Lucille Bellucci are available on Amazon and Smashwords.
*Photo Credit:This photo is used under the Generic Creative Commons license.