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Must. Be. Rational.

Must. Be. Rational. Pix1 Must. Be. Rational. Pix 2
Must. Be. Rational. Pix1
Must. Be. Rational. Pix 2

By pure happenchance, I just saw these pictures. They're of Deion, who needs a new home.

This certainly isn't the first cat needing a new home that I've heard of in the last six years, far from it. It's not even the first time I've seen photos of the cat in question. It is, however, the first time my heart's jumped, shouting out "Want. That Cat. WantWantWant."

My head knows better; it knows much, much better. I'm living pet-free for many compelling reasons. Excellent reasons. I don't have the money to feed and care for a cat. I'm gone Way Too Often to have a cat, or any pet who needs regular attention. I love dog-sitting when the occasion arises. IIRC, the dog who stays here most doesn't like cats. There's also the fact that this particular cat doesn't get along well with other animals. Et cetera.

So why is Deion tugging at my heartstrings? That's easy. Twenty-seven years ago this summer, Karen Johnson, Judie Cilcain, and I went to the St. Paul Farmer's Market one Saturday morn. I already had two cats at the time: F'nor and Greymalkin. But there was this kitten, a Siamese-Burmese mix, and the moment she was in my hands, she crawled directly up onto my shoulder and stayed there. I'd always wanted a shoulder cat, but neither my orange cat nor my grey cat were so inclined. The best way to get a shoulder cat appeared to be to start with a shoulder kitten.

I certainly didn't need three cats. I started with one, but having coffeeem and willshetterly's Brain Damage come to stay for a week or so revealed the fact that when there was a second cat around, F'nor didn't spread the garbage from the bathroom to the sunroom if I did so much as stop for groceries on the way home from work. He was much happier in a multi-cat household.

On the other hand, allergies kept Karen from having any cat at all. We discussed the matter and soon agreed we would co-own the little shoulder kitten, soon named Nyssa Rhu. The Rhu was short for rhubarb, which was also on sale at the farmer's market that day, which tells me it was probably mid-June or so. I wouldn't have three cats, I'd have two-and-a-half, even if all three just so happened to be living with me.

Nyssa Rhu was a lovely shoulder cat. I'm afraid I didn't give her a steady home. Jan Appelbaum and I moved into Toad Hall a month or so after the kitten came home with me from the Farmer's Market. A few years later, she went to live with Karen and Judie for a year. They were renting a house and Karen hoped it was large enough and the cat was small enough to be manageable. If I remember correctly, that was also the year that Kay Drache and her elderly cat came to live at Toad Hall. Kay's cat liked being in a single-cat household. The next year, Nyssa returned to Toad Hall, but a few years after that she moved out again after introducing galaticvoyeur's Louie and Huey to the household turned out to be life-threatening for her. We tried for 6 months, and even consulted a kitty behaviorial expert (who yelled at me then yelled at me some more during our single phone call), but the Sunday Huey left a hole the size of a quarter in Nyssa's belly was the day we knew we had to find her a safe place to live. The 7# cat with no claws would not yield right of place to either of the 16# cats who were fully armed. Huey and Louie had reasons of their own to have no use for the likes of her. We added still more anxiety to the mix by mishandling their introduction. All with the best of intentions, of course, but I hope I learned from it and know better now.

Mitch Pockrandt came to the rescue and took Nyssa in. It was another move for a cat thoroughly traumatized by way too many of them in her lifetime, not to mention the ordeals that came with the invasion of the New York cats interested only in taking no prisoners.

Nyssa was the cat who comforted me when my brother died; she was the cat I bonded with most, and the cat I failed to provide a good home for. I haven't owned a cat since, and I'm not going to change that now. I'm happy to live with a partner's or housemate's cat(s). I've given more than a passing thought to the possibility of someday providing a home for my dad's cats, Tilly and Jinx, but the odds are against even that. The bottom line is that I'm not a good pet owner. It's like with kids: I make a great aunt. I'm good with that. Well, at least I am on the kid front. Until I saw that picture of Deion, I had no idea I was still missing Nyssa Rhu these 20 years after she last lived with me. I had no idea that I could want a cat at all, let alone a specific one simply because he reminds me of her.

Nyssa Rhu, loaf kitty
Nyssa Rhu, kittyloaf



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 8th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
Karen WINOLJ (AKA Toad-at-large) wrote:

Just read your post about Nyssa Rhu. My ghod, has it been 27 years?????? As I recall, the three of us had been strawberry picking in Cottage Grove (before it became overbuilt with townhomes and such), and we stopped at the Farmers Market in downtown St. Paul on the way back to Minneapolis. The rhubarb seller also had some kittens for sale, including Nyssa Rhu. I always rather suspected she hadn’t been socialized like most indoor cats, but spent a bit too much time as a barn kitten before we found each other.

If I get a scanner and find my missing photo albums, I’ll have to send you the set of photos I have of Nyssa on different people’s shoulders over the course of various events at Toad Hall. She was the only cat I’ve known who loved to socialize during music parties.

I’ll never forget how Nyssa would so patiently (or terrified) hold absolutely still throughout the vet’s examination, then slink over to me and climb up to my shoulder and cling. She knew her people.

In the end, while she went though a lot of trauma and more household moves than could be anticipated, she found a good home with Margo and Don (where all those moves prepared her to become top cat when they changed houses and their other cats were traumatized by the move—to Nyssa it was just another move and she got to keep the same people and furniture!). Of all the cats I’ve heard of who needed a home, Nyssa found the most homes and the most people who wanted her and loved her. She was a special cat. She’ll always be my only cat.

I can understand the temptation you feel when you see a photo of a cat that reminds you of Nyssa. Happens to me, too. Thank you for letting me be Nyssa’s half-mom. Without you I wouldn’t have known the joy and the concern and the love and everything that is part of belonging to a cat.
Jul. 8th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
I still miss Luther, my Siamese tom, who was living in a barn because his owners didn't like him. They asked if I'd like to have him when I petted him, so he came home with me and LOVED me through problems with Bob. He never left my side and even sat on my lap in the john. I felt like someone loved me at least. He was inside and out and one day he got hit by a car. He recovered but after that he was pretty dumb. Tried to take a chicken away from me when I was cutting it up. He gave up when I hissed at him, but he was never the same. I loved him anyhow.
Some cats are immortal.
Jul. 8th, 2010 10:15 pm (UTC)
It's good to know one's limitations about these things. Denny and I have firmly limited it to no more that three at a time, which is the legal limit in MPLS. For one thing, there's only so much room on the bed.

I haven't had an orange cat since I was a teenager, but my heart always goes *boing* when I see one, remebering Pookie II and Pookie III. Pookie I was Siamese, come to think of it. And Nyssa was a sweetie.
Jul. 9th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)
My first cat was a siamese who had been dumped out in the country where we lived (after being declawed, of course). I grew up with that cat, it was my only friend for much of my childhood. I took her to college with me after my dad kicked her out of the house (his new wife didn't like her), but had to find her a home when the semester was over. At this point she was a cranky, 20-year old incontinent siamese cat. I finally found someone on a farm who took her, and then gave her to a sister that moved up north. I never saw her again. I don't know when or how she died, if she found a good family or was alone and miserable.

I still feel horribly guilty about not being there for her at the end of her life, about making her deal with so much change and trauma when she'd done nothing but give me her loyalty and love her whole life.
Jul. 10th, 2010 06:03 am (UTC)
I can't believe it's been so long.

Nyssa lived with David and me for a couple of years. She went back to live with you after Kay moved out. She used to bring blue yarn bobbles to us at three a.m., yowling until one of us groggily tossed the bobble back onto the floor. Then she would take it away downstairs and kill it, eventually reappearing in bed around dawn, purring madly.

Jul. 10th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oh my gosh; I'd completely forgotten about her time with you. I'm beginning to think I should remember her as The Cat Who Lived With Everyone. The timing makes total sense, though.

Thanks for the bobble memory, and for being among the excellent cat people Nyssa had the opportunity to live with over the years.
Jul. 12th, 2010 06:17 am (UTC)
She was a goofy purry thing. We liked having her. She didn't like the Suke much, but she liked us.

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


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