First MLA Board Meeting

Living With Cats

Ghost Kitty is becoming translucent.   She is the most mysterious and waifish of the five cats, still carrying the lines of the kitten that she hasn't been for over fifteen years, although she is now almost weightless.  Properly, her name is Sasha, but all of the cats have multiple nicknames that are accrued and discarded over the years as their habits, shapes and behaviors shift.  These days, Sasha seems often to inhabit the border between this life (or these nine) and the next, so I call her Ghost Kitty.

She is also the Levitating Kitty, still able to move from floor to an upper bookshelf with no apparent effort.  When I met her, she was a mottled orange, with a hint of Siamese in her background that gave her an exotic look.  Her huge blue eyes were always on alert for the presence of humans.  She was untouchable and would disappear in an instant if a human approached her.  She barely tolerated Lynn & Marian, but even with them would rather not be touched.

She was devoted to Sebastian T. Butler, the tuxedoed cat.  SB was as friendly to people as Sasha was aloof, but she was his special friend.  Every night they curled up together at the foot of Lynn's bed, and it was the only time that the haunted look in Sasha's eyes relaxed into contentment.

When SB died, Sasha's grief was palpable and she mourned for two years.  When we moved into this house, there was a neighbor cat who looked very much like SB.  He would come wandering into our yard and Sasha would sit in the window, pawing at the glass, howling and screeching.  She was sure it was her Sebastian and she could not understand why we didn't bring him in.  Then that cat moved away and for awhile we thought that Sasha would simply melt into nothingness.

So we started reaching out to her -- literally.  Very gently and carefully getting close enough to her to touch her, stroke her fur lightly.  And gradually she came to accept it.  She will still instinctively flinch and draw back when I reach out a hand towards her, but she'll stay and let me and then warm and cuddle under the touch.  And even, sometimes, when Lynn or I are sitting reading, or on weekends watching a movie, she'll come up and curl in a lap and go to sleep.   Lately, I've even seen her being friendly with guests.

Her fur has faded.  The markings are still faintly there, but she is now nearly white.  Yet she remains as agile and kitten-like in her movements as ever.  Lynn took her to the vet awhile back and she is now getting a pill daily to help regulate her thyroid.  The vet told Lynn that she is completely blind.  I find this impossible to believe.  It is true that her eyes often seem flat and pupil-less, depending on how the light strikes them, but she dashes around the house when the mood strikes her and never seems at a loss for where she is.  Can she be doing this entirely on scent and sound?

She sleeps long hours, has her few favorite spots.  Often, now, she sleeps on the bed with us at night, and occasionally I'll be awakened to the almost-not-there weight of her walking across my back.  Sometimes she disappears entirely.  Then, just when I think that she must have somehow gotten outside and run off, she comes trotting through a hallway, as if having simply re-emerged out of the sunbeam. 



I always wonder what makes some cats shy yet sweet. Some cats are really aloof, but others seem to want to be around their people, but are afraid of getting too close. One of mine wants my attention all the time, while the other usually stays just out of reach. She won't sit on my lap, but she will sit on the back of the chair and 'groom' my hair. I'm hoping that someday she realizes that the other cat curls in my lap all the time and that it must be safe.

Take care of Sasha - she sounds like a special kitty.


What a touching posting, Scott. Growing up, our cat Debra progressed from frisky companion to elderly stateswoman to, eventually, a cat in such pain that she had to be put to sleep. This happened many years after I left home, but Mon still called me on the day it happened.

It is true that cats are more aloof and moody than dogs, as Helen and I constantly discuss. You have to work harder with them, but the eventual relationship makes it worth it.

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