I was seven years old when I got a cat. Her name was Whiskers and she lived to be a grand old dame. The fact of her longevity certainly lends credence to the old adage that cats have nine lives, given that all cats, dogs and children roamed freely outdoors in those days. She survived not only all of our dogs, but all the neighborhood dogs as well, and even our beloved tabby, Mack, who was her offspring from her first litter.
Whiskers’ greatest nemesis was a boxer named Mugsy, who lived down the street and was the litter mate of our dog, Jinx, who had no problem peacefully sharing a home with a cat. But Mugsy
made no secret of the fact that his entire reason for existing was to make a meal out of her. He would hang out at the front door sniffing around with those huge boxer jowls, just hoping and waiting for some careless child to leave the door ajar enough for him to burst through and begin streaking around the house at top speed, hoping to find my poor, sweet, unsuspecting kitty perched in a window sill or lounging on a bed somewhere. His vicious growling and barking would be accompanied by my mother’s yelling, “Get that dog out of this house!” and my hysterical screaming. The threat of him getting Whiskers in his jaws was my worst nightmare, a scene of death and violence the most terrifying thing possible at my tender age. If other children worried about boogie men in the closet, I shivered in my sheets thinking about a boxer loose in the house.
Usually such a scene ended with Pat or Timmy, Mugsy’s owners, finally grabbing him by the collar and dragging him back outside. Poor Whiskers would be trembling beneath a bed somewhere or high up in on a closet shelf. It’s a wonder that the stress of such frequent “raids” didn’t shorten her life, but she prevailed. Mugsy was actually quite a popular guy. He was great with all the kids, had a lot of character and could be quite lovable when he wasn’t in “murder-the-cat’ mode. So when his family took him on a camping trip and returned without him, announcing that he’d disappeared into the woods and could not be found, there was much grieving and sorrow up and down the street.
It is here, in this blog post some forty five years later that I make this confession to the world. The news of Mugsy’s disappearance was music to my ears. I’m not proud to admit that outwardly, I feigned sadness. But I was secretly overjoyed! Not that I wished him any harm. I pictured him finding a happy family in some other camp site, jumping into their Country Squire wagon and ending up in their neighborhood where he could chase whatever he wanted to his heart’s content. My joy and relief were over the fact that my beloved Whiskers could now live in peace and had a chance at reaching a ripe old age. And reach it she did. It wasn’t until I was a couple of years out of college and my parents moved to a different house that she finally succumbed at seventeen.
I’ve had several cats over the years and have adored them all. Angel’s cat, Mr. Marvelous, is an amalgam of several of them, and in appearance he does closely resemble my current cat, Sam. He plays an important part in Angel’s life and in the story. I hope you enjoy getting to know him, too.