My freshman year of vet school, my very first pet from childhood- Taffy- died of cardiac disease. She was 15. She lived at home with my parents, who vowed never to own another pet again. No more smelly carpets, no more furballs, they were done with it.
A couple months later, I was at their house when a small kitten materialized out of the bushes.
“Oh, look,” I said as she wove in between my legs. “She’s so sweet.”
“She comes around here a lot,” said my mom. “Always trying to come in.”
The kitten purred and rubbed until I picked her up. “She can’t be more than 6 months old. And intact.”
“No,” said my mom.
“It’s a sign,” I told her. “Ask the neighbors if anyone owns her. Look,” I said, gesturing to her adorable 6-fingered toes pawing at my hair. “She’s polydactyl. I know just the name for her.”
“No,” said my mom. And that was that.
A month later, I was back for holiday and saw the bowl before I saw Polly. “You kept her!” I said excitedly, leaning over the cat when she materialized and reaching for a belly rub. “Remember me?”
Polly rolled her eyes and strode away.
Polly has proven one thing to me, and that is cats are phenomenal actors. When it suited her to be adorable, she was by far the sweetest kitten I had ever met, big eyed and fluffy and warm purrs. As soon as she scored the gig in the house, though, she plopped her butt on the couch and announced, “Yeah, I’m a misanthrope. I’m calico, what did you expect? Just try to get rid of me now! Ha ha!” Dude. It was my freshman year and I was inexperienced. I did not yet learn about the Evil Genius Gene.
She hissed at me, once. Now she ignores me, after discovering that I’m on to her and if she starts in with me she gets burritoed for a nail trim.
She loves my sister. Actually, scratch that. She loves tormenting my sister. My sister is terrified of cats, Polly in particular. For this reason, Polly sleeps on her head when she spends the night. My sister awakens from a deep sleep to the baleful yellow stare of her worst nightmare and then must remain, paralyzed in fear of disembowelment, until Polly gets tired of the game and departs.
She tried my parents’ suggestion of simply closing the door, but Polly can open them. As far as we know my sister is the only person on the planet Polly will open a door to get to.
I took the kids to my parents yesterday for a visit, and perhaps Polly was overcome with the holiday spirit. She actually jumped on my lap for 5 whole seconds. I did nothing.
“Pet her,” said my dad.
“Yeah right,” I replied, eyeing her twitching tail and her long nails. “How dumb do you think I am?”
She looked me up and down and departed, leaving my lap unmolested. Victory! Or maybe it’s just her eyesight getting poor with age and she mistook me for my sister.