my cat

I grew up with a dog, an off-white toy poodle named Muffy. My dad was the one who got her, and she worshiped the ground he walked on, followed him everywhere. Muffy was not particularly fond of me, unless I had food. I honestly think she had a supermassive black hole for a stomach, because that dog could put away food like no tomorrow. She bore a striking resemblance, in my opinion, to a large, pale apricot dustbunny.

 

Muffy was about 12 years old, a geriatric dog, when my dad finally caved into my little sister’s persistent begging for a cat. We got the cat from the daughter of the woman who gave us Muffy, in fact. So my dad returns from the woman’s house with this little striped fuzzball. I remember carrying the little guy into the house and he stuck to the front of my shirt like Velcro. He was adorable; had enormous yellow eyes like headlights, giant ears and a very long tail. His coat was a mackerel pattern in black and light brown, with four white feet and stomach. He had a small brown patch on his chin, which I took to calling his ‘goatee’ and a tiny brown dot on the left side of his muzzle that reminded me of a facial mole. D’Artagnan was your average tabby cat, but he was so photogenic. My twin sister, who’s an artist, used a drawing of him for her business cards. He makes a fine Puss in Boots, by the way.

Naming him took a bit, because there were us four girls who had to decide on a mutually acceptable name. My little sister, who was about 7 or so at the time, wanted to name him Chickenspock. Totally serious. My middle sister was pretty ambivalent and was fine with whatever me and my twin chose. Finally we settled on D’Artagnan, from the ‘Three Musketeers‘. My little sister liked it and insisted that his birthday would then be on July 14th (we got him around the beginning of July), because he had a French name. She’s a strange kid.

Dart, as he came to be called, was initally a very shy cat. Hopelessly curious, he got himself into predicaments one after another. He tolerated being dressed up in baby clothes by my little sister, who then put him in the doll stroller and rolled him around the basement.  She even went to the extent of putting baby booties on all four paws and a diaper on him. He did NOT appreciate that. I think he actually liked the stroller. Dart liked to sit in cardboard boxes, sometimes sleeping in them. He found other odd places to sleep too, such as my bathroom sink, the ironing board after my mom used it, and last, but not least, the mop wringer. You know those things that hook onto the side of a bucket, the ones janitors use? One of those. I was beyond words, because it was the most ridiculous sights I’d ever seen. He seemed to have made himself quite comfortable in it.

Dart got himself into other mishaps, such as bothering our elderly dog. At that point, she was getting arthritic, but she could move when he came by. I’d see Dart come tearing by like the Indy 500, with the dog right behind him, snarling and barking. It was hilarious, because both would go from carpeted floor to tile and start wiping out. Dart also made the mistake of sleeping in Muffy’s basket, in which he promptly got the stuffing beaten out of him. He was twice the dog’s size and petrified of her.

I hate to admit it, but Dart was not the brightest crayon in the box. When people say that cats are smart, they definitiely weren’t referring to him. He was one of the most accident-prone cats I’ve ever seen. One time, in his bid to drink water out of a watering can, Dart tipped the thing over on himself and got soaked. Another time, he was outside and tried to catch a bumblebee, which stung him in the paw. He came howling back into the house, wailing and crying. I managed to catch him so I could remove the stinger from his pads. His paw swelled up, but otherwise Dart seemed okay. For days he went limping around, crying and being pitiful. My dad would baby him and sneak him treats. Another time, he made to jump from my bed to my sister’s, and missed her bed entirely. There was also the time he fell asleep across the top of a small TV in our kitchen, and we watched him slowly slide off it during dinner, till he landed in a heap on the floor. He also was afraid of the strangest things, such as hats, sunglasses, and soap bubbles. Dart also hated this alpaca sweater belonging to my sister, and would attack it if she wore it. He also got into a wrestling match with it when it lay harmlessly on the bed. Weirdest darn thing. He scared easily as well, the most common thing to frighten him were my dad’s sneezes, which are like a cannon going off. One memorable occasion, Dart was sprawled across the top of the couch in one of his favorite sleeping places, when my dad let out this gargantuan sneeze. It startled the cat so badly he lost his balance and fell down behind the couch. A second later, he erupted from beneath the couch to go hide in my room. For my part, I couldn’t stop laughing. This was typical behavior for this furball, and I never forgot one bit of it. He was also afraid of the toilet, after I flushed it when I caught him trying to drink out of it. Dart never did that again.

Dart’s biggest pratfall involved our fishtank, which sat in front of a window. I would find this crazy cat balanced on the rim of the rectangular tank in order to get a better view out the window at the birds. I’d scolded him numerous times not to be there, but it was a wasted effort. Abruptly, a bird flew past the window, startling Dart and he lost his balance. The cat went right into the tank, up to his middle and he let out an earsplitting howl. I watched Dart, now thoroughly drenched, erupt out of the tank and streak off to the laundry room, where he liked to hide when in trouble. I could not stop laughing. My only regret was I didn’t have a camera to document it.

I don’t have any pictures of him on my computer; all are your standard, non digital images. If I get ambitious enough, I’ll try scanning them and uploading the images. There are plenty more stories about Dart, so keep an eye out in the future.

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