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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

"Where Did I Leave My Glasses?"
by Martha Weinman Lear

August 22, 2008

Ms Callie

It was an unplanned event, as babies often are. I noticed an emaciated cat lurking around our house. She came up to me and I petted her. Later I told Mmmm that she had had kittens but didn’t now since she didn’t have any milk. A day later I looked out and she had deposited four tiny babies literally on the welcome mat at the sliding door in the back of the house. Of course I had to feed her since she was starving and the babies were starving too. They were too young to be given away or sent to the pound. I didn’t name her or get too attached to the kittens although I did name the kittens. One was black with white boots and of course, his name was Boots. One was a tiger stripe and he was named Tiger. One was a lovely peach color and her name was Peaches. The last one I thought would be a calico so I named her Ms. Callie. I said that if she was a human, she would wear a hat and read Vogue. She has an attitude.

The mama cat was a great mother. She had trained these little ones so well. They were eating kitten food and were so adorable at about six weeks of age when the dog next door broke through the fence and killed her – in front of the kittens. We took her to the animal doctor and had her put down. She was too badly injured to save. So suddenly, I had four babies to care for and a house full of company. It was wild. The kittens were so cute and of course I ended up keeping one. I gave three to the PA at my doctor’s office. She had twins that needed to have pets. I kept Ms. Callie. As it turned out, she is a tortoise shell.

I asked my vet once why she is so stand-offish. The vet looked at me surprised and said, “Why, she is a tortoise shell. That’s why!” She went on to explain that Torties usually are cool toward all but one person and are notoriously standoffish. They choose one person as theirs and the rest they may or may not tolerate. Torties are almost always female. The vet only treats cats and writes books and columns about cats and she has a tortoise shell so she should know. I had no idea! I should have kept Peaches or Boots or Tiger but Ms. Callie had already taken possession of our house and our hearts. She has chosen me as her person, although she allows Mmmm to rub her ears every morning.

From the beginning Ms. Callie was unlike any other cat we have ever had. She is very easy and undemanding. She never, ever tries to go outside. I asked the vet about this and she said even though Ms. Callie doesn’t remember why, she knows that there is danger outside. Probably from seeing her mother attacked. We probably should have put her in therapy. She only eats dry cat food and turns her nose up at table scraps. She will eat, and loudly calls for, cantaloupe when it is in the house. She likes a tiny bit of ice cream now and then. Playing with toys? Please, don’t insult me. There is a lovely red ribbon that she rather likes on the rare occasion when she is in the mood. As for catnip – no, thank you, she will take orchids, please.

Ms. Callie

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