- CRITTER TALK
As many people know, a few weeks ago, I had very minor surgery involving a microwave. True story. We have begun receiving the bills from that minor surgery, and holy shit am I glad we have insurance. The first round was delivered today, and my husband and I spread the paperwork out on our bed because some of the math doesn’t add up. As we glared at the numbers, our 19-pound cat, Princess, leaped up gracefully, turned around twice and promptly deposited herself on the bills. Then she began cleaning her nether regions.
Honestly, if we had a kid who did the things this cat does, he/she would be in military school. Every few days, Princess decides that 6AM is just too damn late for breakfast, walks to the rug in the front hall, eats part of it then pukes. Inevitably, I step in it. In bare feet. “Squish” is not a fun sound or sensation that early in the morning. Our other cat, Hansen, used to vomit in my bedroom slippers. It made me feel loved.
Princess also has an alarm clock in her stomach, much like the crocodile in Peter Pan. This clock is silent to all but her, and it is specifically programmed to go off at about 8:30 each morning. When the silent alarm rings, my darling angel kitty will spend the next hour and a half stalking me, tripping me, howling at me and head butting me because she thinks she is starving. She’s not starving. Hell, after eating a rug, she should be pleasantly full. At 10:00, she gets her snack. Hunched over like a 19th-century accountant, she devours each and every piece, making some pretty disgusting sounds. She also enjoys chewing her food over her water dish, so by the end of the day, the water smells like rotting meat.
When we brought Princess and Hansen home from the Humane Society, the people we spoke with told us the two cats had been abused. Our vet in Vermont believed that Princess was starved and this explains her stress when her bowl is empty. She’s gotten much better, but mornings are still tough for her. Right now, she just finished dinner, so she is purring herself to sleep behind me. In a few minutes, she will begin to snore, often so loudly that she wakes herself up. As much as a human can love a cat, I love Princess.
Yes, she throws up and eats my area rugs and tries to kill me but she also adores me and greets me and cares for me in her cat-like fashion. And if it were up to me, her name would not be Princess. Her previous humans had named her “Precious” and we kept her new name similar. If she had chosen us when she was a kitten, I would have preferred to use the following poem as a guide to her name.
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
The Naming of Cats, by T. S. Eliot