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Out of the Blue

The Cat Who Came to Dinner

A welcome guest makes herself at home

By Deborah Salomon

In the past year both Lucky and Missy, my precious companion kitties, entered a pain-free eternal sleep. I estimated their ages at 15-16; I adopted them from the street 12 years ago. Coal-black Lucky had golden eyes and more dignity/intelligence than some politicians. Missy, my devoted dingbat, was happiest anchoring my lap.

I’m an animal person, a lifelong rescuer, whether a skittish retired racing greyhound or a starving mama trying to feed her kittens.

Finally, I was finished. Friends urged me to adopt again. But a young cat would outlive me — never a happy situation — and an older cat might incur massive health care bills.

“No,” I joked. “The only way I’ll adopt is if a homeless kitty knocks on my door one freezing night.”

The thermometer read 28 degrees that night in January. Crouched against the front door as though to draw warmth was the most beautiful cat I’ve ever seen: long, thick white fur, blue eyes, pink nose and mouth. I had noticed her outside several times but didn’t worry because she was wearing a collar. But I offered food anyway, which she gobbled.

And now, in dire straits, she turned to me. How could I refuse?

I opened the door. She scampered in, checked out the apartment and sat down where Lucky and Missy’s bowls had been. Poor baby wolfed down a whole can of cat food. While I prepared the litter box she curled up on the couch, exhausted, and fell asleep.

I named her Snowball, after my grandfather’s Samoyed.

I asked around. Several neighbors had seen her; nobody knew where she belonged.

Tests, inoculations and $200 later the vet certified her a healthy female, 2-3 years old, not microchipped.

I could feel her rib bones.

Cats have personalities as distinct as humans. I’m used to plain-Jane short-haired tabbies. This Princess Diana is a feisty little madam. Her primary activity is eating, which includes her mealtimes and mine. If food appears, she’s on it.

Mmmm, scrambled eggs. Grilled cheese. Tilapia. Tiny bits of baked potato with butter. She jumped on the counter and, with a delicate Barbie-pink tongue, pre-washed the vanilla ice cream dish.

At bedtime, she leans on my legs but, so far, doesn’t paw me awake, for which I am thankful. But you can’t jump on the computer, honey. That usually ends in disaster.

So far, Snowball shows no interest in going outside. Bad memories, I guess. No fear of strangers, either. My previous two dived under the bed when the doorbell rang.

Then, the litter box, a Charlie Chaplin tragicomedy. She’s not satisfied with fulfilling its purpose. Afterwards she performs an Irish Riverdance routine, which sends litter flying every which way. But so far scratch damage appears only on an old wicker chair.

Finally, after three weeks, Snowball has started to play with Missy’s ball-on-a-string, which makes me sad. Missy loved that toy. I will tuck it away and buy a new one.

Snowball is my first talking kitty. She talks almost constantly, with appropriate inflections, usually plaintive, as she follows me room to room. I thought food was her objective but maybe she is lonely, like I was before she leaned on the front door. But nothing — and I mean nothing — would tempt me to provide a playmate.

Lucky and Missy had a loving if subservient relationship. He was the boss, she the handmaiden. I can’t see Snowball bowing to any tomcat or sharing her new turf with another female.

So for now, the lady rules. She has found a “nest” in a closet corner where an old sweater fell. She takes long naps, enabling me to work. She chatters at the birds pecking the cornbread I throw on the grass under the window. I presume she means no harm when swiping me with those super-sharp little claws.

Maybe this mysterious princess is just what I needed.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a contributing writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She can be reached at