How to Own a House and Have Servants

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I am a grey, black and white tabby who was adopted when I was one year old by my persons – a Sicilian man and an Italian American woman.   She was a pushover – she saw an adoption ad about me at work and brought me home; he was my nemesis although she adopted me for him when he retired.    She was an animal lover; his first words to me were “He can’t come into the house”.  Sicilians didn’t  believe in sharing a house with animals.   “Animals belong outside”.  

I was an outdoor cat and loved being outdoors – I really didn’t want to come into the house.  They had a grand garden complete with multiple nests of vulnerable chipmunks.  I would catch them by the scuff of their necks and dangle them in from of her.   She hollered at me and I had to let them go.  There was a wonderful birdhouse where I could wait patiently to catch birds who gathered  to eat dropped birdseed.   She said, “How come Mrs. Cardinal isn’t with Mr. Cardinal, today?”   And the Sicilian quietly but sternly said to me, “I saw you – you can never do that again.  She liked that bird.”

I knew whom I had to overcome.

When a coyote attacked me one day in this beautiful garden, the couple brought me to the vet.  The vet charged them $500 and said “If you like this cat, you need to make him an inside cat.”  She agreed but the Sicilian said “Animals don’t belong in the house – he can go into the basement.” 

Living in the basement wasn’t bad.  It was warm and cozy and I was allowed upstairs to sleep on the sofa only if the Sicilian let me sleep on top of his stomach.   “No sleeping on the furniture” he would proclaim.  The sofa was leather and I was allowed to keep  my nails, so that was OK.   I really had my eye on the bed in the front guest room with the big window.  I’m patient.  

When the woman wasn’t around, the Sicilian told me “No jumping on counters or the tables; no scratching furniture or rugs.  No sleeping alone on sofa or in bedrooms.  Animals don’t belong in houses.”   

She was a pushover; she let me sleep anywhere I wanted.  But I had to win him over.  It could turn out to be a good deal.  Plus, I was curious why she was so easy and he was so hard.  

Then he had a hip replacement.   He had to rest a lot and not move around for a while.   This was my long-awaited opportunity.   Patience runs in my family.   I watched him with my soulful, sad, beautiful green eyes. (She told me how beautiful they were).  He would pat his stomach and I would jump up and cozy up to his neck while putting my paw around his shoulder.   She would say, “The cat is comforting you.” He would fall asleep and I revved up my purring.  

Not long after, he was in the garden again, and I was jumping around after him.  He gave me a name – he called me Compagno – sounds like ‘Goombah’ – she told me that meant companion or partner or friend.   He started to like me! 

They took me on vacations and sometimes they left me at home with a pet sitter.  One vacation while they were away, there was a forest fire in the woods behind us and the pet sitter could not get near the house.  I was really frightened.  Alone.  Lots of smoke and ashes outside.  A kind neighbor had the key and came by to get me – the neighborhood was being evacuated.   My persons came home two weeks later and I felt strange and different.   I was still scared and slept rolled up in a ball in the corner of a room for six months.   I did not jump on my persons’ laps or want to do anything but sleep and eat.    I had lost 3 pounds.  I ended up with diabetes.    

My persons took me to the vet who said I had been traumatized and needed insulin shots twice a day.   My woman cringed, but the Sicilian took over my care – giving me shots twice a day.  He was so attentive to me, that I could sit by the refrigerator ‘shot site’ at my given times and he would always be there on time to administer to me.  

When I started to feel better, I jumped up one day onto his stomach and purred loudly and they both cheered.  I purred louder.   When I gained my weight back and ate my high protein food, I was feeling good again.  I slept in my comfy cat bed by the fireplace. But one night, the Sicilian whisked me up and brought me into their forbidden bedroom.   He put me at the foot of the bed and said, “He can sleep here.”  

And I still sleep there today – I’m 15 years old now – 75 in person years.   I’m high in their routine – we eat at the same time, I sleep on their laps while they sit in the living room, and he still picks me up to bring me to bed.   He gives me my shots, trims my nails, changes my kitty litter, brings me for my check-ups, has me blessed at church on St. Francis animal-blessing day, and makes sure my stash of insulin, special high-protein diet, catnip and fresh water are in place every day.    He’s even added glucosamine for cats because I was walking arthritic-like.    I feel GREAT.    He’s my BFF.   My Compare.

The woman loves me like her baby – she cuddles me and talks to me all the time.   I wake up in the morning next to her and she cuddles me.  I don’t show favoritism.  I fall asleep at night next to the Sicilian and he puts his arm around me.   I follow the sun around the rooms during the day and bask in its warmth on the guest beds.    

The Sicilian put in a special pet door in the sliding door for me so I can go to my outside ‘apartment’ on the enclosed porch and get fresh air.  I have my own freshly-grown catnip plant at my disposal.  They speak to me lovingly like I’m their child.  I love my life.  

The Sicilian used to say, “He can’t come into the house.”  And, now, I own it.   And have 2 servants.   I purr a lot – –just to think — I have eight more lives to live.

Fran Signorino Copyrighted October 2019