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Nine Lives

Catimage Lately when I get up in the morning, The Gray Cat is sitting on the temporarily gray (we still have the winter slipcover on—summer is turquoise) couch upstairs, which is good because it means he’s agile enough to get up the stairs. For a while he didn’t come up unless he was carried. I think the Gray Cat is 15, pretty old for cat, (I just realized my Portland cat, Li’l Smokey, is 11 now, which is crazy because she was like three when I moved to NYC. Er, I suppose that makes me eight years older, as well. My mom hasn’t mentioned her recently, which I hope doesn’t mean that she’s no longer with us, so to speak) and diabetic and I have this fear that I’m going to find him one day keeled over in the closet or sprawled out stiff on the sofa. I mean, he seems lively enough, but it crosses my mind. I was glad to find him awake this morning.

As I headed to the subway, my eye was caught by a make shift sign and a candle shrine on the metal fence of the apartment around the corner. I was hoping it wasn’t what I suspected it was. I totally started bawling (well, tearing up) when I saw the cat memorial for Angelica, the friendly little gray kitty who (I think) lived in the building with the wrought iron fence. I say I think because I never saw anyone feeding her or letting her in, but she had a collar (that I swear read Angelica, despite the R.I.P. sign saying Anjelica. The herb or Ms. Huston?) and wasn’t out in the middle of winter. She was almost always somewhere on our corner, behind a bush, lying on the sidewalk, hiding under a car, and would follow you around and roll around on her back until you pet her. She was one of the selling points of our apartment I was struck by how quiet and quaint the neighborhood was (never mind the BQE), tame enough to foster a resident outdoor cat. Plus, I liked the idea of living on Henry St.

When we first moved in I thought she was an outgoing stray. The pre-gentrifiers in our building (we were the first to move into the remodeled, likely-doubled-rent first floor apartment. Eventually, the upper three units were upgraded and re-inhabited with respectable folks) would leave paper plates with cat food in our yard for her. This stopped once our building filled up with fussier tenants, the kinds who worry about attracting rats and having junky overgrown patches of weeds in front. Once we felt bad for the cat because it was cold and it seemed like she wanted to come inside, so we brought her in and she totally freaked out and hid under the bed and hissed at Caesar, the only cat we had at the time. When I first saw the sign in the distance with her photo on it, I was hoping it was just a missing poster and that maybe someone else had simply smuggled Angelica into their apartment. No such luck, she probably used up her nine lives many times over.

I don’t know why a dead cat makes me so sad. It’s a fact of life. Now that I think about it, as a kid our cats came and went. One got hit by a car, one who knows, another was creepily found lifeless on the sidewalk on Halloween. Some wandered off never to be seen again, some mysteriously vanished, likely at the hands of parents who carted them off to the pound. Not a lot of sentimentality in my family. It bothers me more as an adult than it did as a youngster.

On my way out the door this morning, I debated whether or not I needed my camera in my bag, and took it out because it was too heavy (no, I don’t have a miniscule sleek model, and certainly no camera phone). Besides, I’m too self-conscious to snap photos in public half the time. But I kind of wish I’d had it to capture the cat shrine. Maybe after work, if I don’t feel too weird about it.

Would spray painting rest in peace my nigga Anjelica be a wholly  inappropriate response?

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  1. Meredith #

    It would most certainly NOT be inappropriate, so long as you left your “tag” next to the greeting. You don’t want any rivals claiming your work, you know.

    May 4, 2006
  2. Pets can be outrageously expensive. We have the one who’s diabetic (though I’m not responsible for his bills) and at the rate my cat has been gaining weight (she’s a little pig) I’m afraid she’ll turn diabetic and she’s only two years old.

    Portland, where I grew up, is like panhandling central. It’s way, way worse than in NYC, so I’m desensitized to financial sob stories from strangers. No pesky immigrants in Portland, though.

    May 5, 2006

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