I don’t mean “tiff”, as in “a petty quarrel”. I’m talking about Miss Tiffany, my still-lamented late old cat. I’ve written about her before, like this post which included my poem about her, “The Styrofoam Kitty”. Although “kitty” was never appropriate a cat who was soured on all other life forms from kittenhood. Here is a picture of her sinking her claws into a cute little panda head. It would have been the same, had the cute little panda been real.
There may be many cats who growl, but Tiffany is the only cat I’ve ever heard do it. It must be her early days in the animal shelter; she picked it up from the dogs. I’ve always said it never hurts to be bilingual.
When she reached the Embarrassing Time of her growth, I took her to the vet to have her spayed — as all responsible pet owners should, unless they plan to breed the animal. When I went to pick her up, I could hear her displeasure as soon as I walked in the door. The vet’s assistant carried the cage out to me, and you never heard such a cacaphony of low growls, articulated yowls, hisses, and damn near roars. I don’t know who she knew in the Merchant Marines, but she was cussing in at least seven languages. Maybe the vet had a parrot back there.
The other lady in the waiting room stepped back, her eyes round with terror. In a voice that bravely attempted to be neutral, she nodded to the carrier and said, “What is that?”
I could only say, “It was a cat when I brought it in.”
The vet advised me to put the carrier in a room with a door that closed, open the carrier, and run like hell, closing the room door behind me. I did that, but Tiff recovered what passed for her good humor soon after she got home.
When I married, Tiffany was not happy with not being an only cat, but she didn’t mind it when we all moved to the country. She was a climber, and could avoid anything she couldn’t bluff or smack into submission. When #4 daughter was born, she and Tiffany adored each other. Tiffany, who would bite or scratch anybody but me who was impudent enough to try to touch her without permission, would let #4 do anything without any response but a “hellllp meeee” meow. On one famous occasion, little #4 closed the door to her room so the desperate Tiff couldn’t get away and hugged her and hugged her and hugged her … until she squeezed the pee out of her, which was why Tiff was so desperate to leave.
A high school friend of #4’s, who had never been around cats much, came over to visit. She scooped Tiffany up and held her. “Oh!” The friend was delighted. “She’s purring! Listen! Is that purring?”
“No,” said #4. “That’s growling. Put her down slowly. Slowwwly.”
In her later years, Tiffany lost her voice. It was so sad and so precious when she would look up and make a meow face, but nothing would come out but the slightest, breathiest, “Eh-eh-eh-eh-eh.”
And now she’s been gone for many years, but you can see she’s still very present in my memory and in my heart. Bad old cat. ~sniff~
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: An animal makes an unusual noise.