Wrestling Rascals

Mittens on the left, cuddles on the right, nap in rare November sunshine
Mom gave up on dogs when raising my sisters and me. Buttons ran away. Ginger succumbed to distemper.
My mother found tomcats more independent, resilient, and less cost. Our toms would disappear for months and return maimed from buckshot. A former farm-girl, Mom doctored them. I cannot remember the name of one family cat.
           The summer before my junior year in high school, my boyfriend drove me to a pet store. I fell in love with a Cocker Spaniel’s puppy-dog eyes. Without consulting my mother, I took Sweetie home. We became inseparable stargazers. Sweetie my pillow, I confessed what I could not tell another soul.
           Ten years later after many wanderings, I at last settled into our first house and took Sweetie off Mom’s hands. With a husband and two small children, I had no time for stars and confessions. So this is what my mother sacrificed for her daughters to hold and love a pet.
Sweetie’s health declined rapidly. Perhaps she grieved for my mother. Deaf, Sweetie walked into our street one day. The car stopped without injuring her, yet the screeching brakes left me shaken.  
           A neighbor offered to drive Sweetie to the Humane Society. Young and overwhelmed, I accepted. Sweetie’s sad, knowing eyes when I said good-bye still haunt my dreams with regret.
In the following forty-two years, my husband and I have considered adding a puppy to our household. A canine presence supposedly discourages deer invasion and property damage.
However, I will never again put down a pet. And Mel will not suffer again the loss of his dog mangled on the road. We inevitably return to Mom’s conclusion about tomcats.

Cuddles longs for the wide blue yonder

After eighteen years of hunting, our beloved cat Mo rests in our backyard below his gravestone. In perfect timing, our friend Sue emailed a photo of darling kittens waiting for a family. Perhaps they were the answer to reducing our varmint population. And there’s nothing like frisky kittens to relieve heartsickness.
Two Sundays past, not a mile away, we first laid eyes on Mittens and Cuddles. “What do we owe you?” Mel asked a neighbor.
“Nothing, just a good home,” he replied.
“Do you know the sex?” I asked.
“No, my wife can tell, but she’s not here.”

We set the kitties’ kennel, potty, and food in our barricaded kitchen. I recycled spools of thread and paper bags for toys. This distracted the pair from chewing on the leather ties of my L.L. Bean slippers. What one did, the other followed, pouncing and biting and pawing.
The first four days Mittens and Cuddles hid under the Hoosier cabinet whenever frightened, which means they spent hours huddled there. They lapped their water together. Slept together. Waited by the john for their turn.

Mittens plays in a paper bag

Today, after the rascals wrestled a good while, Cuddles curled up for an afternoon nap in the kennel. Mittens stretched out on the fluffy bed Mo rejected.
 Dear Reader, I’m guessing Cuddles is a tom, Mittens a queen. Mom would know. In her old age, she held her cat Socks on her lap.