Animal Survey Response

Voice Card  -  Volume 20  -  Stuart Card Number 4  -  Tue, May 14, 1991 4:03 PM

This is ONE OF 6 responses to VC 19 Drury 5 ("Animal survey")...

We have two cats, a female named Tommy (around five human years old), and a male named Oscar (around 10 human years old). Oscar is a big (around 18 pounds), surly, burley, bruising blue point Siamese who is only getting bigger because he has athsma and has to take steroids. He dominates over Tommy, who, as a kitten, was brought into the house where he was previously living (under another owner) as undisputed master under an assumed name named Jim.

Oscar, alias Jim, alias Wanda is the sort of brute who doesn't like to take no for an answer. He's also much smarter than Tommy. He has much greater problem abilities than Tommy. If one door to a room is closed and another door to the same room is open, Tommy will stand in front of the closed door for quite a long time, looking dazed and confused, her ears twitched back on her little head. Oscar, on the other hand, will immediately try the other door. When he hears the package of ham or turkey being opened, Oscar will demand to be let in from the porch so that he can beg and mooch, while Tommy is content to continue her bird and squirrel watching and season scenting.

Tommy, on the other hand, is much more the dreamer, the poet, than Oscar. When we lived in a fifth floor apartment in Salt Lake City, she would sit on a book case and watch for hours as the birds soared by, swooping her head to watch them. In California, she would sit looking out of the screen door of our little house on Morro Bay, and patiently watch the sunset come down. In Ohio, she loves to twitch her nose under the back porch door and smell the seasons change. She yammers at the birds and squirrels who peck in the grass or visit the bird feeder. She does this to a much greater degree than Oscar, who is much more indolent, less curious, and will lie for hours perched on the papasan chair with a dozed, contened look on his face, as if the chair were his throne and he the ruler of the premises.

Tommy is a great sleeper. I don't think I've ever seen a cat look more dishevelled and dazed upon waking up than she. I think she must be the better dreamer. Oscar, on the other hand, is the purrer. Touch him anywhere, and he'll purr in volumes. He's also much more of a lap cat, a people cat than Tommy is. Often, Kathy and I will be lying in bed, Oscar ensconced between us purring like a jack hammer, and Tommy will be outside the bedroom, on the stairs, peeking up at us. (She also likes to look down on us, putting her head between the stair bannisters, leaning out precariously.) As with many poets, Tommy seems to always be on the outside looking in.

We also have one fan tailed gold fish named "Fin McCool." We used to have another fan tailed gold fish named "Crashtafar Corrumbas." Kathy got these fish when she was in the middle of studying for her doctoral exams. She named them after two characters in James Joyce's Finigan's Wake. I'm not sure what need these fish fulfilled for Kathy at the time, but she did go on to pass her doctorals with flying colors.

When we moved to California from Utah in the summer of '87, we searched all over Salt Lake City on the day before July 4 for a pet store that was a) open and b) had a battery powered air filter, so that the fish wouldn't be too distressed as we drove across the Nevada desert. We finally found a place in Bountiful that fit the bill. The filter worked, too. During the trip we almost died of heat prostration, but the fish were great, swimming about in a nice dark cool, trash bag lined ice cooler with their water happily humming bubbles from the air filter, as we drove an air conditionerless V.W. in 100 degrees heat. The fish also made it across country to Ohio in the same fashion.

But all things and creatures end, and, five years after Kathy had brought him (her?) home, Crashtafar died. My wife put him (her?) in a match box and buried him (her?) under our lilac bush (him? her?) with a sparrow's egg that had fallen out of its nest and been abandoned. Fin McCool is still around, however, doing well, three times the size of when Kathy brought him (her?) home, lo those many years ago.