INK IN THE BLOOD
Pets are wonderful, particularly for retired folks. A pet gives a retiree something to take care of, and is a treatment for “empty nest syndrome,” no longer having children underfoot on which to lavish attention.
We did, however, try cats for a while. A long while. Princess Bonaire, better known as Bonnie, was “presented” to us by our son.
The presentation came after he’d been invited by my wife’s aunt, the last of the flower children, to come spend the summer on the island of Bonaire.
Auntie was running a scuba dive shop in an island hotel. Son could earn his keep working in the shop and would gain scuba certification. Plus, as Auntie sold it, it would teach Son responsibility.
Bonaire is a desert island off the coast of Venezuela, part of the Netherland Antilles Islands.
After five weeks on Bonaire, Auntie called to tell us Son had “adopted” this kitten. He’d been watering potted plants outside Auntie’s house and, in one of the big pots, he’d come across this mother cat and three newborn kittens. Let’s stop right here and explain that ALL cats on Bonaire are WILD. None are domesticated.
Predictably, the mother cat took two of her kittens and moved, leaving no forwarding address. One kitten, a calico, remained. So, Son did the noble thing and took the tiny creature to raise. He fed her with an eye-dropper at first, then graduated to a doll bottle.
Of course, when he was scheduled to fly home, Auntie called to give us the sales pitch for Bonnie coming with Son. “After all, she has taught him a great deal about responsibility,” Auntie sang.
So, former dog people became providers and staff for a cat.
Soon Son was out on his own and a bachelor pad was no place for a cat. So, Princess Bonaire, sometimes known as Bonnie but regularly as The Cat from Hell, took up permanent residence with us and lived to age 14.
She terrorized visitors, even before achieving full growth, arching her back, “fuzzing out” her fur and doubling the size of her eyes while moving them from a gold/green mix to solid black. She looked formidable and downright scary.
We decided on de-clawing. Upon consulting the vet, whose helper Bonnie had wounded a couple of times, we determined to remove her front paws’ claws. We’d asked about doing all four but the vet advised that was not good since Bonnie could be outside with no defense, particularly being able to climb a tree if, say, a Great Dane was after her.
Bonnie had been left with the vet and her terrorized assistant about 7:30 a.m. At 11 we received this frantic call from the assistant: “We just got Bonnie calmed down enough to do the surgery and Dr. So-and-So recommends we do all four paws.”
To which, since we’d been quoted a price for two, we asked, “How much to do all four?” The assistant yelled the question to the vet who apparently was still doing battle with Bonnie and the reply came in a screamed, “For this little !@#$%^&*, NOTHING!”
Even minus all her claws, Bonnie managed to put the fear in no small number of people.
We decided to take youngest son and our niece to Disney World and had Life Mate’s Sister deliver her daughter to us. After we left, Sis-in-Law was to close down our house, see that Bonnie had sufficient food, water and a huge litter box.
Upon our return, Sis-in-Law informed us that while she was in her bedroom packing, Bonnie came to the door and emitted her blood-curdling “rrroooowwwrrrr.” Sis-in-Law reasoned discretion was the better part of valor and stayed in the room until Bonnie decided to vacate the door an hour later.
I loved The Cat From Hell’s spirit.
Willis Webb is a retired community editor publisher of more than 50 years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.