Does anyone have an unusual pet story they'd like to share?
One of my favorite childhood pet adventures involves a Siamese cat named Katrina.
Katrina had two litters of pedigreed kittens in her early years as our family pet. She was very particular about them and usually only allowed the family to touch them.
My mother decided, for her first litter, that she would give birth in a cardboard box under her bathroom sink and then raise the kittens downstairs in another bathroom adjoining our playroom. It took a lot of persuasion, but Katrina finally agreed to the first arrangement and gave birth in the master bathroom.
The second arrangement wasn't quite to her liking, and when the kittens were about two weeks old, she dragged them, one by one, up two flights of stairs, their little butts bumping on each stairstep, to my bedroom. She did this several times, carrying each of six kittens, until they were all deposited, then settling in. It took my mother about two days of this before she realized Katrina meant business, and intended to complete her kitten-rearing duties in the middle of her daughter's bedroom. Naturally, I was thrilled by this development, and added my pleas to Katrina's. She was awarded a playpen-nursery, and this worked out very well. Katrina could jump out, but the kittens couldn't.
The trouble started when the kittens were about four weeks old. My parents decided to go out to dinner and a movie. They left us in the care of a babysitter we hated: Debbie. We pleaded for a change to her younger sister, Chris. Chris played with us; Debbie watched TV and talked to her boyfriend on the phone. Chris did what my parents told her to do, and got us into bed on time; Debbie did exactly what she pleased. She also wore heavy eye make up and pale lipstick. She wore cool hippie headbands with peace signs, and generally acted the part of the rebel. We HATED her, mostly because she ignored us and watched TV or talked on the phone, but also partly because she drank lots of cokes and ate whatever she wanted out of the fridge but never gave us any.
On this night, Debbie received careful instructions from my parents: under NO circumstances was she to touch the kittens in the playpen in Laurie's bedroom! My parents explained that Katrina reacted very unpredictably when the kittens were touched by strangers, and if Debbie bothered them, there would be hell to pay.
Well, to a rebel like Debbie, these instructions were tantamount to an invitation. We begged and pleaded, pleaded and begged, "Debbie, PLEASE don't touch the kittens!" but she ignored us and reached right in.
Within seconds, Katrina, snarling and spitting, had glued herself to Debbie's face and long, center-parted hair. Debbie shrieked and screamed and finally got the cat OFF her face and onto the ground. The last glimpse I had of the babysitter was a Kafka-esque reflection of her gazing at her wounded, classic Julie Christy face in the mirror before she slammed the bathroom door. She looked pale and shocked. She looked frightened that her teenage beauty had been marred forever.
In the meantime, Katrina was still VERY pissed off. She decided to lurk outside the bathroom door to wait for Debbie. When Debbie tried to open the door, Katrina snarled and yowled and threateningly stretched her talons under the door.
My brother and I retreated, crying. Katrina wasn't trusting us anymore, either.
She stood guard in the middle of a darkened hallway, her eyes glowing like hot coals, growling like some wild thing.
Mike and I climbed on the kitchen counter for safety, where I called the telephone numbers of every neighbor on the block. They were all out enjoying their Saturday nights. I finally got Mrs. Downing on the phone. She and her husband were having a quiet game of cards with some friends, but when they heard the little scared, sobbing voices of children, they came running over to help.
My parents arrived home from the movies to find the police outside, their cat in a carrier on the way to the Pound to be checked for rabies, their babysitter in an ambulance, and their kids getting tucked into bed by a neighbor.
Animal shelters were sort of benevolent in those days, so when Katrina was found free of disease and relatively free of abnormal aggressive tendencies, she was released to our custody. Debbie's father threatened to sue us for a few months, but his complaints died down after a while, too.
Debbie never sat for us again, and Katrina earned a big hero award for releasing us from her predations. That wasn't Debbie's only animal cruelty incident. My brother Mike reminded my parents that "She burned my guinea pig's whiskers, too."
Katrina lived for 14 years and had a long history of interesting adventures. This was her most famous. On a good day, she was an irritable cat. She only liked some people, and then only some of the time, and only when they petted her in a certain way, but her irascible temperament earned her plenty of respect. I was sad when she finally died of kidney failure. We lost not only a cat, but a family icon. I sketched her a few times in her final days, and the sketches were kept in the family albums. I miss her.
What's your favorite pet story? Please share.
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