TWO FOUR LEGGED GUESTS, BUT ONLY SEVEN LEGS
Jane, a friend of more decades than I care to mention, had a hip replacement operation on Monday, so I’m looking after the family cats for a while.
Frankly—only a few days after the operation--Jane looks well enough to wrestle tigers; but Charlie and Chester—who think the family bed is really theirs—are another matter; so they have been dispatched to my tender care. The good news is that they know me, because I feed them when Chris and Jane are away. The bad news is that I live on the sixth floor, so I am living in terror that one or other of the cats will wander onto the balcony and experiment with gravity—without a parachute.
The cats have quite distinctive personalities. Chester is some exotic breed with long hair who looks absolutely gorgeous, but who lives only to eat; and is decidedly short on brainpower. He is, indeed, a cat of very little brain. In contrast, Charlie, who has white fur and piecing eyes, is whip smart, but has only three legs (the fourth being the victim of a road accident). Having only three legs doesn’t seem to bother Charlie at all. True, she limps a bit, but she uses her tail as a fourth leg so adroitly that many people don’t notice that she is even missing one. Beyond that, if you mess with Charlie, she will claw you faster than you can blink. She is, so to speak, the Zorro of cats—except your scar will not be a “Z,” but a slightly curved crimson line; and it will sting, and bleed little beads of blood. And you will have learned to treat Charlie with respect. Nothing personal.
What are they like as guests? Charlie (short for Charlotte) is as engaging as ever, and has made herself quite at home. Chester—as normal—looks less happy, and has been parading around and knocking things over, but since he does that anyway in his normal residence—I am taking such behavior in my stride.
Though I have had pets for much of my life, I am not really a pet person these days, largely because, as a writer, I like to feel free to travel without leaving some poor neglected animal behind. Pets tend to be rather dependent on company.
As you may recall—I put the story in a blog some time ago—my first pet was a Siamese kitten which I was told was a baby monkey (I had asked for a monkey). I was dubious, but would my mother lie to me? And I was only five at the time. I ended up being very fond of Bankok, my Siamese cat, who met her end, after many years, in the German Legation in Dublin (they didn't have an embassy then) which we lived next door to. That incident did not improve my opinion of Germans—I was pre-conditioned by WWII—so I mounted many a successful raid to steal their apples.
Despite his egomania, I am quite fond of Chester, but I definitely prefer Charlie. She has character in spades. In fact, I have included her in my latest thriller THE BOOK-LOVER’S MOVE.