My family had cats growing up. Well, I should say that we had cat growing up. Never more than one at the same time.
We inherited our first, Peevah, when we bought our house in Amesbury, Massachusettes. She was usually cranky. Peevah would hide from my sisters and I any chance she found. In closets, under beds, in bushes and in the back of drawers, we usually found her in a curled black sleeping ball. My beady eyes were trained to find that little fuzzy ball and I would pet her when she was clearly annoyed. She probably wasn’t the best cat for young kids, but she’s the one God plopped on our back porch, meowing to come inside. We let her in.
Our next cat, we seduced. In Peekskill, Sox was the neighborhood rascal. She’d slink between yards, a tabby nomad. My sisters and I would tempt Sox with nuggets of food. She came often until finally, on a fateful and wonderful night, our father let her sleep inside. My sisters and I had triumphed in our cat-seduction.
I’m ashamed to tell you how we found out her name.
I was an upperclassman in high school at the time. We found out where Sox originated from and discovered that a girl who lived here went to our high school. She was a freshman. I approached her on the sidewalk one sunny afternoon.
Me: Do you have a cat?
Poor girl: Yes. We have three. (taken aback)
Me: What are their names?
Poor girl: (some meaningless cat names)
Me: Um…are any of them tiger cats?
Poor girl: Sox is a tiger cat… (curious as to why I was asking)
Me: OK! That’s all! Thanks! (walked away, knowing that we stole her cat)
Although our tactics while seducing Sox may not have been all that upright, we still loved her like crazy. She lived with my family through a lot of changes. She was there the day my father died, there the Christmas following his death, and she was a constant little companion for my mother while she was a widow. Far more friendly than Peevah, Sox would greet and snuggle with guests in our home and play whenever I wanted to play with her. I’m not afraid to say it, she was my little cat friend!
I drove with Sox down to Maryland when my mother re-married Ron. It was her big move. Leaving that cat in an unfamiliar house in Silver Spring, where another cat (Ron’s cat ‘Magic’) already ruled the roost, was unquestionably hard for me. When I left Ron’s house to return to Peekskill, Sox was hiding in a back bedroom. She was a shell of the cat she was the day before. I’m not afraid to say it, but I cried. Home was where the Sox was.
I was leaving more than a cat behind in Maryland. Having Sox living with me in Peekskill that last summer is part of what kept me grounded in the house I lived in since second grade. It was where my father lived and died. It was where mom made Norwegian pancakes on Sunday nights and where I would sit in my childhood bedroom, whittling soap. Yes, whittling soap. I was very bad at it. (I suppose 3-D soap sculpture isn’t for everyone, though I made decent fish-shaped thing once.)
Sox was apart of that world, and a fun part. Uprooting and moving her to Maryland was as metaphorical as it could be.
Someday, I’m going to seduce me another cat! And you’d better bet that I’m going to aim for a tabby with little white feet.