Blacky was my first cat and the cat that I grew up with. He was a huge black cat, hence the name Blacky. My father rescued Blacky when he was just a kitten. He had gotten himself into some kind of trouble with a dog and was in need of a savior. Dad saved him and he became our cat, to this day I’m not really sure if dad actually wanted a cat but Blacky was here to stay.
I loved him; he on the other hand was not too impressed with children. I’m sure he was not impressed with me the day I threw him into the backyard pool because “he wanted to go swimming!” My mother rescued him and told me that was not a nice thing to do, I thought he was hot. Needless to say Blacky kept his distance from me for a while!
We used to travel a lot and when we returned Blacky would be waiting for us. One time when we came home, Blacky was not there to greet us at the door. He was missing for three days my mother was beside herself with worry, and then he finally showed up. Blacky had been hit by a car and the poor thing had a broken jaw! Off to the vet he went they fixed him up, but from then on one eye was always shut and his tongue hung out of his mouth. Not a pretty picture, but we all loved him anyway. We thought he was unique! To show off his lovely face Dad took the most wonderful picture of him. It was late November and the pumpkin that had been sitting on our porch since Halloween was looking rather rotten and squished. Blacky was sitting next to it and Dad snapped a picture, it’s priceless! Rotten pumpkin and Black disfigured cat! We should have entered it in a photo contest, but that would insult Blacky.
One of my favorite traits about Blacky was his ability to kick ass against dogs of any shape and size! He just never got over that first attack when he was a kitten. A few experiences come to mind. The first happened when I was sitting in the living room playing the piano. I heard this horrible yelp and I looked out the window just in time to see Blacky riding an Irish Setter down the street. He was digging his claws in and holding on tight just like a jockey at the Kentucky Derby! The second incident that comes to mind was, I was standing out on the driveway with Blacky just enjoying the sun. When around the corner came a woman walking three huge dogs. Well I knew what was going to happen so I cleared out! Sure enough Blacky jumped on one of the dogs and started to fight. The woman was yelling at me to help her, but what could I do? The dogs were running around in circles wrapping the woman up in their leashes. Finally when they passed the boundary of Blacky’s yard, he jumped off and went back to grooming as if nothing happened! Needless to say I don’t think she ever walked her dogs through our yard again.
Blacky was also very acrobatic as most cats are. His favorite thing to do in the morning was to go over to the neighbor’s house. Mr. and Mrs. Parker had a beautiful white picket fence around their house and Blacky used to jump up and sit on the gate for a second before moving onto the porch. One fine morning Mrs. Parker came out to get the morning paper and just as she opened the gate Blacky was in mid air and looking for the gate. I think their eyes met for one brief second before Blacky fell to the ground. Can you imagine the look of surprise on that cat’s face when there was suddenly nothing to land on; it must have been priceless. He did the same sort of thing going after the birds one day in the garden. He was hiding under the birdbath waiting for his chance. When he leaped up to catch a bird he landed spread eagle in the birdbath! He never tried that one again.
Blacky lived for 14 years. He was my companion when I was growing up and I miss him to this day. I will always remember him. More Cat Tails to come……
Those of you that are military will understand when I say “let the chaos begin” those of you who are not can only read and learn! We decided to get married in Denver so I took 6 months and planned a winter wedding. (Mike was at sea) Now October rolls around, the wedding is scheduled for December well, the US Navy will not move my stuff to Italy unless Mike and I are married BEFORE December 1! Heavy sigh….so Mike and I decide to marry on the beach in Hawaii at sunset on November 11 and then still have the big wedding in Denver that way our “official” wedding date will comply with the Navy rules. (those of you who are not military are shaking your heads right now) So we have a beautiful ceremony on the beach and have dinner at the Old Moana right on the beach everything is peachy. Then we get our marriage certificate in the mail and it has deficient stamped on it!! OK, so the guy that married us was not properly registered with the state of Hawaii (oops) so we called him up, got him registered we got ANOTHER license and singed off the correct paperwork in the hallway of the department of health, wedding number 2. THEN we flew home to Denver for wedding number 3 and hopefully the final wedding! Whew! Now we can move to Italy! So the next hurdle to jump over is how do I get my two, yes, two cats to Italy with us? Well, the Navy had all sorts of ideas like putting them in the cargo hold of the plane, and making them stay in a kennel until we find a house “RIGHT, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN”, so I ask my parents if the cats can live with them until we get settled in Italy. They said yes of course, so we moved the whole family into Mum and Dad’s bitchin bed and breakfast and gourmet chicken house. More Cat Tails to come….
It was soon time for Mike and I to pack up and move to Italy, where we planned to eat pizza and drink cappuccinos. It was a tearful goodbye at the airport, but the one thing I knew, was that Sebastian and Coco were in VERY good hands. Besides, this gave us time to find a house and get settled, that way the cats didn’t have to live in a kennel!
The cats settled into “grandma’s” house in no time. Coco established herself as queen and Sebastian and Ringo were just there as entertainment, and Mum of course was the royal chef, Coco was quite content. Sebastian pretty much took over the garden and Coco took over the kitchen…..OK, the WHOLE house! Poor Ringo was banished to the living room, and only came out for the great chicken feast! It soon became clear to Mum that in order to have a peaceful house, she had to let Sebastian outside, once that happened a feeling of ZEN washed over the household and everyone was happy.
So everyday, after breakfast, Sebastian was allowed to go outside. One day, Sebastian didn’t come home for dinner, so Mum got in her car and went over to my old house, which was about 2 blocks away. Well, there was Sebastiansitting on the porch! The people that bought my house had no problem with him being there, in fact, they wanted to adopt him but my Mum explained to them that Sebastian was temporarily living with her and would be moving to Italy soon! Everyday Sebastian went over to the old house , AND EVERY DAY Mum would have to go over with the car, call for Sebastian, he would come out jump in the back of the car and she would drive him home for the night.
Meanwhile, the competition for chicken between Ringo and Coco escalated toOlympic proportions! Mum would throw pieces of chicken across the kitchen, and Coco and Ringo would then battle for the prize. Coco is small, but she is fast and if speed didn’t work she would just biff Ringo upside he head and steal the chicken! Ringo must have been thinking “WHEN are these two moving, I just want my house back!”
Well October rolled around and it was time for the cats to come to Italy. So my parents made arrangements to fly with the them under the seat, they all flew to Rome first class of course. During the flight Mum would take Sebastian to the bathroom to smell things (LOVELY) and Coco just traveled from lap to lap sampling the many delicacies that first class has to offer! That is still an issue for my husband, the cats have flown first class and he never has! Poetic justice I guess. Anyway, Mike and I met the whole gang in Rome.
Now it was time to drive to Naples, 2 hours south of Rome. It’s not a bad drive, but when you have been on a plane for 24 hours it can be a little hectic, you see Italians don’t drive like Americans. Matter of a fact, Italians don’t drive, they “race” down the Autostrade, especially southern Italians. Mike and I soon learned that if we were going to get anywhere in Italy we better learn to drive like an Italian. What’s the saying? When in Rome, do as the Romans. Well we did. So we were in the car racing down the Autostrade to Naples going about 100 MPH when Sebastian decided that it was time to pee. He was sitting on Dad’s lap and he looked back at me and did his pee pee meow! I immediately showed him the box on the back dash of the car. He tip toed over Dad, luggage and coats to get back there and then…..peed and peed! Thank god Mike didn’t have to slam on the brakes or the whole shebang would have flown forward! After he was done, he just settled down for a nap.
When we finally arrived in Naples both the cats started to wrinkle their noses. Naples is quite aromatic so they had a lot to smell. There was burning trash, volcano farts and nasty exhaust from old cars, welcome to Bella Napoli! It had to have been one of the worst pollution days I had ever seen. And we arrived right at rush hour! Then I said, “The only thing that would top this, is a traffic jam in the tunnel.” Need I say more, you guessed it, we got stuck in a traffic jam in the tunnel. As we were sitting there I heard the not so distance siren of an ambulance! Yep, that ambulance needed to get through the tunnel! “Where is he going to go?” my Mum exclaimed! I said “Right here between these cars!” “There’s NO ROOM!” She said, “Yeah, I know, so maybe we better put the side view mirrors in.” I said in an unusually calm voice. Then here it came, like a Tasmanian Devil! It went right between us and another car, with inches to spare (“good thing we put the mirrors in” I thought) then there were 5 cars in hot pursuit! That is how Neapolitans get through rush hour traffic, they follow ambulances! Just another Naples day! WHEW, glad that ordeal was over, now we can focus on getting home to the peaceful tranquility of our Italian villa. When we arrived, the cats didn’t even care, all they wanted was dinner and a big cat nap, can’t say I blame them….
Sebastian and Coco spent their days lounging on the balcony in the sun watching the garden kitties play with each other. Then one day Mike and I noticed that Tigger and Bianca were getting quite fat! Apparently a male cat found his way to our garden, and………well you know! OK, let me spell it out for you, they were preggars! That made both of them really hungry, they ate everything in sight including pasta! Cleaning out the fridge was always a blast, we would just throw food over the balcony and the cats would devour it. Poor Billy couldn’t figure out how all this happened he just knew he was the lowest on the totem pole when it came to eating meals!
Then one fine day I opened the front door, and there was Tigger on the welcome mat having kittens! Welcome to Italy kitties! I ran and got a box with a towel for her. She had four little ones. When she was done, I got her a new box with a fluffy pink blanket in it, she was very happy. Two days later Bianca had her kittens. She had them on the neighbor’s balcony in a box with newspaper and it was outside in the wind. She stayed there for about three days then she came in the hallway for dinner one night and saw Tigger’s set up. A minute later we heard this meow and here comes Bianca with one of her little kittens. She put it in the box with Tigger’s and then went and got the rest. She piled all of them in the box and kicked Tigger out! I had to get a new box for Tigger and her kittens, but most of the time Bianca just took care of all 7! Tigger would rather be out roaming around then nursing kittens.
Sebastian and Coco kept their distance, they didn’t want anything to do with all those cats! Pretty soon the kittens were old enough to go outside in the garden, much to the relief of Sebastian and Coco. And when they were no longer nursing, we got Bianca and Tigger fixed….more cat tails to come
When all the kittens finally started to live outside we decided it was time to find them homes. We just could not take care of 12 cats! I found homes for all except 2, Tigger and Ginger, but I heard through the Italian grapevine that the couple that moved into our place after we left Italy adopted them both. I hope that all the Italian cats are happy they certainly gave us hours of entertainment!
As our time in Italy grew short we took many trips through Europe. One time we went to Germany and we had a friend (Yvonne) stay at the “villa” and take care of the cats. Well, Coco has a routine in the morning. When it is time for her breakfast she will bug you until you get up and feed her. After all she is up so you should be up too! Did I mention that she is a princess? Anyway she plays this game, she will sit on you and put her cold wet nose on your nose and if that doesn’t work she will paw at you until you wake up! Pat, pat, pat, purr, purr, purr. Well, Yvonne wanted to sleep-in one morning so she shut the bedroom door. At 7 am Coco was there, in her face, wanting her to get up! “How did you get in here?”Yvonne said, and a mystery was born! The same thing happened the next morning. On the third morning Yvonne set the alarm to wake her up BEFORE 7am to try and catch Coco getting into the room. The door to the bedroom is closed and there is this pane of wavy glass so it’s private but you can still see through the door At 6:45am Yvonne is awake and waiting, she sees a dark blob on the other side of the door, you guessed it, Coco! Coco waited patiently until 7am and then began leaping up in the air and hitting the door handle! It took her about 3 times before she finally got the door open. Smart cat! Our friend was very impressed, we were not surprised, after all it’s Coco were talking about!
Soon it was time to leave Bella Napoli! As we drove out of town, we looked back at the great shape of the volcano Vesuvius being illuminated by the sunrise. We were both sad but also thankful that the volcano decided NOT to erupt and we hope to live there again someday. During the drive to Rome for our flight there was a huge rainstorm, this might not sound like a big deal BUT the roads in Italy do not have proper drainage so it made us late, and therefore we missed our flight! Picture this, little tiny car, loads of luggage and two cats stuck at the Rome airport! We were so late we just drove up, parked the car in the NO LOADING ZONE and ran in, all in perfect view of the Caribinieri (Military Police). He says “No Parcheggio qui!” (no parking here) and I said “solo uno momento?” (only for a moment) He just rolled his eyes and waved us in! Once inside Mike says “what are we going to do with the rental car?” “I HAVE to return it don’t I?” “There’s no time!” I said “Just leave it there!” We both knew we weren’t getting on the flight anyway. We were exhausted, the cats were exhausted we made a valiant effort, but not good enough. We gathered our bags and the cats, went back outside, climbed in the car (yes it was still there, not even a ticket) and found a little hotel close to the airport. Once settled in the hotel the cats just slept in the closet, I think they wanted some peace and quiet! We on the other hand, spent the rest of the day touring Roma and enjoying “la dolce vita” (the sweet life). The next day it was off to the airport with plenty of time to RETURN the rental car. All the Italians in the airport just loved Sebastian and Coco, so there was plenty of entertainment prior to the flight. Once on board both cats just settled into their little carriers under the seat and slept the whole flight back to the USA. They are such good travelers!
After a long trip from Italy, my parents picked us up in New York and all of us drove to Connecticut to our temporary duty station. I told you these cats are good travelers. We lived in CT for 5 months, just enough time for Sebastian to get into some trouble. Coco is content to stay inside, NOT Sebastian! He insists on exploring. One day Mike found him about to climb over the fence onto the secret part of the Navy Base! He is lucky Marines didn’t shoot him! After that little incident Sebastian was not allowed outside without supervision, but that didn’t stop him from trying! I finally had to put a leash on him which he HATED! He used to growl and growl at it, but the desire to go outside was so strong that he put up with it!
When April rolled around, it was time to leave CT and head to our new home, WA. We planned to drive across country; (I will never do that again) We went from CT to DC then to Huntsville AL via the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a winding road through beautiful scenery. For the first half of the drive, my parents were following us and Mike was going at a decent speed, then my Dad decided to pass us and ZOOM, suddenly Dad was flying like the pilot he is! Coco just slept on the seat but Sebastian has to be part of the action. He sat right between Mike and I and “skied” the road, leaning into each turn just like Alberto Tomba! It was funny and impressive; he didn’t even get carsick. Eventually we made it to WA and our new home.
With cats in tow we moved into a new house with a huge back yard and lots of forest around us. The cats love exploring in the yard. Almost from day one our back yard has been transformed into something you might see on the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. Sebastian catches at least one mole or mouse a day. Here is the routine.
Sebastian will go out hunting while Coco waits on the porch, god forbid that she would be caught hunting. Sebastian brings the mole or mouse to her, leaves it at her feet and then moves on to other adventures. Meanwhile, Coco proceeds to play with the poor thing until it is dead then she eats the head and leaves the body on the porch for me to find. Nice kitty! Now usually Mike and I are the only ones that get to enjoy this, but lately Sebastian has been doing this in front of other people, particularly dinner guests, how appetizing! One recent dinner guest was amazed at the variety of creatures Sebastian finds. He brought us a gecko and a mole within an hour! Usually the men find it entertaining and the women find it disgusting. CE la Vie!
Sebastian’s all time challenge is to catch the squirrel. It is much too fast and it can climb the tree. One day however, he caught a chipmunk. I caught him with it in his mouth and tried to free it as usual. I turned him on his side a proceeded to tickle his feet, which he hates! It was enough of a distraction for me to pry his jaws of death open and free the chipmunk. Once the chipmunk got over the shock he chittered and chattered all the way to the tree. I’m sure he was cursing at Sebastian. Coco just watched from the porch and when she saw she wasn’t getting a snack she went inside….more Cat Tails to come