Dear A at Playing the Hand I was Dealt was just dealt a really bad card recently.  Her sweet kitty Moush Moush has had a recurrence of a rare form of cancer.  I know this is not a high traffic blog, but for anyone out there with even a bit of spirituality, good will, love of animals, or just plain old love, send it A’s way for her and her dear Moush Moush.

I’m posting pictures of my kitties.  I grew up in a cat household.  Ok, it was also a crazy house too, but there were cats.  Thank god there were cats.  Of the many cats we had, there was one who was dearest to me.  My cat.  With a silly name that only a 6 year old would give to a cat, Muffin.  Muffin was white with grey saddle markings with faint ringed stripes on his tail and more evident stripes on his knees.  I called them his knee pads.  He had a small grey dot on his face too, a sort of beauty mark.  He was so precious to me, born on my sleeping bag after his mom got herself knocked up shortly after the blizzard of 78 (oh yes, we were aware….the event was held in my backyard in broad daylight and was quite euphemistically referred to as “Rocky’s Wedding”).

old black and white photo of girl watching kittens nursing.

Baby pictures, Muffin and siblings.

old photo of white and grey cat

In his prime.

After Muffin died, I did not think I would want another cat.  I can’t.  too heart broken.  Then this beast came into my life.  Max. I thought he was full grown when I got him but he just kept growing.  He was huge in his prime.  Not fat, just LARGE.

orange and white tabby cat backlit on couch

My beautiful Max.

Max was with me for 16 years.  He died after being ill for a long time.  He was a trooper, purring through being sick.  I learned that from him.  After Max died, I really did not want another cat.  Seeing other cats made me cry, and the thought of getting another felt like a betrayal to his memory.  Then, it was christmas.  And it was going to snow, the weather forecasts called for blizzard conditions with lots of snow and high winds there in my coastal New England hometown.  And there had been this stray who we met when Max and hubby and I had moved into the neighborhood just a couple of months prior….but I hadn’t seen her for a while.  I’d been very absorbed with Max’s illness, and then after I hadn’t been up for going out hunting for the stray.  And she had stayed away.  So on Christmas day, after dinner, my sister and I went out looking around.  I half hoped we wouldn’t find her, that she had already found a home.  Nope.  She came bounding up with her crazy sustained meow while running.  Her hallmark.  How you always knew she was coming before even seeing her, this bouncing “aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhnnnn” that she did.  Hubby and I even had taken to referring to her by this as her name.  “Saw ‘aaaaaaaahhhn’ outside just now.  Gonna go sneak her some food.”  The next day, after she’d spent the night in the basement, then worked her way up into the house, we decided to name her.  We tried out different sounds on her.  She seemed to respond to the ones closest to her hallmark meow, so we called her Anya.

photo of brown tabby cat resting

Very skinny stray, enjoying the crap out of my couch during a Christmas blizzard.

Despite looking calm in the picture above, Anya spent the first few weeks pretty edgy with us.  She started warming up to me after my hysterectomy.  I was home for several weeks, and she had me all to herself.  She’s still jumpy if there are too many humans moving around at once, but she’s becoming quite the little housecat.

None of my cats has replaced the other in my love.  They have each been special in their own way.  I know that when Anya passes, I will get another cat.  We’d like to get another now, because I think it’s good for cats to have friends.  And I think it’s good for people to have cats.  And there are plenty who need homes.  So maybe Anya will get a little brother at some point (if my husband has his way).  I have love to give and I will give it.  It hurts sometimes too, but I won’t let this stop me from looking for the joy I know they bring into my life and the warm and affectionate home I can provide for them.

orange and white tabby cat smiling

Happy Max, Fall 2006

So say a prayer, a spell, a chant for A’s girl Moush Moush.  Wishing her love and healing and time with her mom.

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  1. Oh, this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. THANK YOU. Now, I’m a blubbering mess again. I love this story with your cats and that hard concept of ever loving another the same. We had a dog growing up (I was 14 or so) and she died the fall after I found Moush Moush in a terrible way, so no cats previously. There was a lot that happened in ’01 (aside from 9/11) that I didn’t mention in the post–my paternal grandfather also died and then I started to get sick as mentioned. I really think these strays come into our lives for a reason, as mentioned.

    Moush Moush doesn’t like cats at all and she is very vocal like Anya (so many meows!) and has faint stripes on her tail and back legs like Muffin (cute). My problem is I developed cat allergies, so I don’t think I could ever have another one and couldn’t do dogs with their need to go out, but I really appreciate how you don’t see any of your new cats as replacements of the others–that gives me some solace as no one has put it that way. I have run into many strays that I wanted to take in, so you never know, but after going through illness (like you did with Max), it just feels impossible to ever go through this again. The allergies don’t help, either.

    Thank you for this post (and the photos!) and sharing this slice of your life. It’s good to know you have a soft spot for animals, too.
    A xo


    • Max was even more vocal than Anya is. Although Anya's become more so since living with us, more chatty. Aside from the bouncing meow to announce herself, she initially didn't talk much. Now, I say "Hi sweetie!" and she moops back at me, sometimes with a polysyllabic vocalization with chirps in. I like the chirps. I remember from Rocky and her kittens that the chirps seem to be a special mom/kitten sound, Rocky would add those in to her meows when looking for or "talking to" her kittens when they were young.

      I'm sorry you're allergic to kitties now. I worry that could happen to me and I think that would drive me mad – not going to think of it! I do think that if/when I have to stop working, I will get a dog. I miss dogs, and Anya seems to actually be very interested in dogs. My brother has several and although he doesn't really give Anya the adoration she deserves (clearly!), she is fascinated by the smell of his clothes and belongings and can't get enough of him when he's over.

      I know in the Catholic church, there's a saint for animals and some parishes even hold special services with blessings for animals, people can bring their pets. Never done it since I'm really really really not catholic anymore, but I thought it was a great thing for Catholics with pets, sick pets especially. I'm going to ask my good friend from college to put her amazingly bright girls on researching similar things in Judaism. The girls love esoteric research, and one of them is prepping for her bat mitzvah now so she's all deep in the studies. 🙂 They lost their beloved dog not long ago too, so this might be a good exercise for them.

      • Oh, that’s so great about your friend, but I think in the Torah it says animals have no souls or some horrid thing–again, I pick and choose from the archaic. It’s like the no heaven thing. I think it’s why we’re always worrying as there’s nothing good in store. 🙂 I do know about that Catholic tradition (so nice) and I could care less who prays for Moush Moush (or to whom), not that I’m much of a believer. I know they do that here at a Catholic hospital that is so far across the valley and I’d need a ride from the one person I know who hates giving me rides (not really a friend).

        I always thought MM (for short) was the only cat who talked! People who’ve met her say she’s more like a dog since she’s not aloof at all and so friendly. We have staring contests, too. I’m glad to know more cats do talk, as most seem to just ignore you. Oh, my mother has cat allergies so I wouldn’t be worried–genetics. I just didn’t get them until my 30s for some reason. Before the amputation, MM always made a trilling meow when she jumped onto the bed, if that’s what Anya does. I have no idea why that went away, as well. I’m still trying to figure out the double meow (what does that mean?) and she’s sometimes throaty sounding. I think she speaks Hebrew or something. I’ve never been around a mama cat and her kittens so have no idea what that’s like (how cute!). I always wonder about MM and how she got her look (and the smoke coat that is rare) and if all her siblings were petite cats. Someone taught her to mouse, so I presume she was with her mother for a bit. The bird call is the strangest of all, but I haven’t heard it in years. 😦 I do like birds (and rats!) but I guess I wanted her to be a cat and do her thing. The clean up wasn’t messy, just rather gross. She just snapped their necks and dropped them off. Ugh.

      • Oh! A hunting cat. Muffin was a hunter, since he and the other kittens had mom time in their raising. Anya, she just hunts bugs. I don’t know what she’d do if confronted by something bigger. She does chatter at the birds out the window, but then so did Max and I don’t think he was much of a hunter. Got stung by a bee once, that was the only time I saw him actually hunt (with a big fail) anything. A fighter. Definitely a fighter. Mean as stink to other cats.

        That’s too bad about the approach to animals. Makes me sad. It’s strange for me to think of the Catholic church having this very compassionate thing, I tend to think of them as all pompous and vaticany. New pope sure is ruffling feathers, or at least was, with his whole “poor people are people” approach. I heard something about a set of nuns in the US who got in trouble recently for having been too focused on poverty and social justice issues under the last pope. That’s the church I know and don’t love.

      • I’m not too sure about the whole view on animals–I think it’s just that our books are soooo old, but if your friend’s daughters can find anything from the Reform branch, let me know! I graduated from a Jesuit U. (like the Jesuit Pope), so I was glad to see the church went that route and hope things will improve. I do love their focus on social justice, which is why my alma mater is such a great fit for Seattle (and me).

        You have so much more experience w/cats than I do! Moush (funny you knew I shorten it to that, as well) must have learned to hunt from her mother like Muffin and she absolutely goes crazy if she sees a cat and puffs herself up and hisses and growls, but those were in the old days. So, she needs to be an only kitty. I’ve never heard another cat do that bird call like Max and Anya could/can do. I thought it was some rare thing she mastered! Oh, a bug catcher is always good. Moush would play with bugs and then get bored–oh, thanks. That place we lived in on the outskirts of the desert was full of the creepy things (yuck) and she’d play with the freaky camel spiders (actually same family as scorpions) and I’d about die as they’re poisonous and I heard they can run 30 mph so if I ran out of the condo to get away from one, it would have passed me on the street. OMG! I had to go to some spider identifier site to figure out what the hell they were and about died as I’m so afraid of spiders–WA is full of them–and had to see full size photos of all the desert spiders. Awful. Just Google if you want to scare yourself silly. Boy, I really wanted to use Raid in there…

      • Oh no, no googling spiders and bugs! Aiiiiiieeeeee! That spider that can run 30 mph, are you kidding? Holy crap.

        I spent a lot of time watching my cats as a kid (and reading) seeing as I was not athletic. I played, but when you’re a bookish child and we always had at least 3 cats around so I had lots of exposure. Also, people kept buying me cat books, seems like a natural progression.

        I find it amusing that you went to Jesuit U. and I went to 1st Jewish Supreme Court Justice U. It’s like we swapped. Good school, but not a good fit for a troubled kid like me, and I was too young and too close to the family to really get everything I could out of it. Now, colleges are so much more involved in students’ troubles. Back then, it was a referral to mental health (which actually, I didn’t even get…go figure) and a script for the then new prozac.

        I hope the sheet works. I think it’s a great idea!

      • The university thing IS funny. I went back for grad school (as did my brother who did his undergrad elsewhere), as well. My story is a little wacky. I was a HORRIBLE student in HS as I hated my school and was living with my BF and whatnot (plus working and all the teachers were 100). So, I barely graduated and went to comm. college (no shame in my game–that school got CC of the year in ’92). Then I got my AA and went to 3 more schools trying to fit in (school-wise, I could care less about the student). I went to the UW for about a yr (hated it) and then transferred to Seattle U (my alma mater) for my senior yr. and my GPA was very good by then. I so loved it and I think they are one of the top 10 liberal arts schools now. Yippee. No one taught me what to do (like to take a prep course for the SAT so I flunked that but also had a massive GI issue that day), so I just had to figure college out on my own. There you go… I was the kid who sat in read alone in her bedroom, too.

        OK, have to get ready for counseling… Talk soon. 🙂

      • Good for you! I was not a super student in high school either. I was erratic. Family crap, since generally I had pretty good teachers. My brother was like little Mr. Do Right, a tough kid to be in school with! But your course sounds more like my sister’s. She actually ended up dropping out of HS her senior year with a GED. People like you two, who are both clearly very very smart, are a big part of what convinces me that we desperately need to change how we do K – 12 education. There are some good schools, some truly amazing teachers. But they are not always fostered for their talents, and it’s so variable. 😦

      • They need to get rid of the whole tenure system to start. I seriously had 1 good teacher there–old, Jewish hippie that I still love to this day. I also transferred in 10th grade back to my burby district school which was just bad, as I was too city for the preppy kids and I only had a couple friends there and the rest were drop-outs or in the city schools. So, good times in HS, just not there. I also had parents who didn’t care and never taught me how to study (my father definitely doesn’t know how) and I never did well in anything except English and written exams, even though I am good at math, etc–back to crappy, tenured teachers. I just signed up for remedial English b/c I didn’t give a crap and then each English teacher had to nominate 2 students for the journalism program. So, my teacher did that for me and then I got stuck on the school paper with the popular preppies (all very tall Scandinavians) with their Pink Floyd obsession, while I wore my Fly Girl clothes and listened to rap. I knew how to write, but I was just this misfit who hung out with the smoking section Head Bangers or whoever to pass the time when I decided to go to school. That was the best: the smoking section! Yes…

        I was so smart about working the system there–I had my own phone line and told the school our # changed so their truancy message went to my answering machine and then I had a note the next day from my “mother.” Haha. I got to write an essay in order to graduate as it would have been such an embarrassment to the school! It was just one off-campus class working with disabled kids that they wanted to flunk me in. Stupid–I think it was b/c I was always late (sleep issue) and the special ed. teacher there hated me for whatever reason. She was an awful teacher!!! Well, good thing I can write! 🙂 There’s my story, but HS was the best on the weekends/summer with my friends. I partied for a lifetime, like I knew I was going to get sick and lose it all or something. The fast life.

        My brothers are a lot younger than I, so that would suck if I had them around (or maybe better?). That is pretty sucky about your sister. I wouldn’t have dropped-out as I knew I would go to college, I just didn’t realize my grades really mattered or something. :/ One of my brothers had pretty good grades and is Mr. Friendly, but his buds were at another school and the other (2 yrs apart) was Mr. Popular/Mr. Ladies Man, which is so odd as he’s so urban and not a burby-type at all. I’m just the odd ball over here. OK, off to listen to some Eazy E now… No, I’m going to bed! Omg–I’ve been up for 24 hrs I think and ache like a mother. Blew up your comments again. Argh.

      • You’ve been up for 24 hours?! Oh god, you need the rest. You poor woman!

        This made me snort coffee: “popular preppies (all very tall Scandinavians) with their Pink Floyd obsession” I’m imagining the Big Lebowski “bad guys”, the nihilists, except instead of being into 90s house flavored industrial music, they are all obsessed with Pink Floyd. And “zee pigs in zee blankets”. bwahahahahahaha!

        Oy, you and my sister, you would’ve gotten along famously in high school. I was more the Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink character. But you and my sister, you sound like kindred spirits. She’s also good a math. 🙂 Fortunately we had a good special ed/emotionally troubled kids teacher she worked with. I think that’s all that kept her there at all.

      • Hahaha! Yeah, Seattle is sort of like Minnesota w/the Scandinavians, so I fit in really well. Loads of Asians due to the Pacific Rim thing, as well. One of my former, traitorous BFFs was Korean. Always a strange, not overly diverse place so I fit in better here looks-wise.

        Glad your sister had ANYONE at school that gave a crap. OMG! Also, I totally imagine you to be Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink (Andy or was it Andie–loved that movie so much)! I had my Seattle vintage days, as well, but the ghetto look just stuck (hence still wearing huge gold hoops and having my nose pierced). Lol! Really, I’m just a skinny jeans, flats, and bright tops girl–nothing too ghetto here, unless I lose my temper and then it comes out, but wish I could sound like your dad! That’s the best. 🙂

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