Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's an Opulent Opossum?

I’m not sure I can say this succinctly. The Opulent Opossum is me, in a way, but it’s also an attitude, and it’s also our cat Patches. Maybe if I describe the three, you’ll get the idea.

See, Patches was a stray who hung out with a whole flock of semi-feral cats that the neighbors were “growing” in their junk-filled shed with the broken door. Our first winter in our house, we felt sorry for this flock and (yeah) we started feeding them, leaving our back porch door propped open on the coldest nights so they wouldn’t freeze. They were all scared to death of us, but they did like the free food and clean water, and they got used to us watching them from the kitchen window, which looks out to the porch. They always scattered when we opened the door, however.

Anyway, Patches was different. In fact, she wasn’t at all part of their big clan. Unlike the semi-feral strays, she had been someone’s dear kitty, which they nevertheless abandoned. Whoever her stupid former owners were, they gave her a flea collar when she was a kitten and didn’t bother to remove it when they abandoned her.

And the other cats despised her, and for good reason: She was mean as spit to them. And she was lovey-dovey to us. We noticed the problem with her and the others, so we started giving out food in separate bowls so they wouldn’t fight. Still, despite their discomfort with each other, she would huddle inside with them on the porch on those cold nights—only in her own corner, all by herself.

Well, to make a long story short, that next spring, the now-mature clan of feral cats began work at making the next generation, and the backyard was starting to thaw and stink, so we had the animal shelter come out and, basically, trap all the feral kitties. Wow, that was a hard week—but it had to be done. Jeff City doesn’t have a no-kill animal shelter (that returned our calls). There’s more to the story, but I’ll save it for some other time. So, it was very sad. We did adopt Patches, though.

At first we were hoping to find a good home for her. We got her spayed and wormed, and we got all her shots and stuff. And we quickly discovered that her pugnacity spills over into her relations with all other cats, including our kitties, so she had to be separated from them. I think she just doesn’t see where she has much in common with a bunch of hairy, inarticulate animals. In her mind, she’s a person in a cat suit. She only wants to hang around with people. No problems with self-esteem, here!

Meanwhile, she’s a funny-looking cat. Nope, they can’t all be Abyssinians. She’s a pale calico—mainly white, plus gray and tan, in patches (duh) that meld into one another in a way that would make cat-show judges deduct points. She’s not a large cat, but she’s plump and round like a possum. And her arms and legs are thin and dainty, white, very funny-looking under her paunchy body. Her face is flat, and her eyes are googley—big and round. She always looks like she’s staring, surprised. Her pretty pink nose has a black spot on it. She simply is not a cat that will win any beauty pageants. But does she know this? Nooooo!!!

We ended up adopting her. Yes, we’re still working to integrate her with the other kitties, but meanwhile, she’s opulently affectionate to us. She thinks that we are The Coolest People Ever, and she jumps on our laps and hugs us and buries her face in our necks and makes “air biscuits” and all of that. She rolls over on her back with her paws in the air, showing us her glorious white belly and her little cat nipples, as if she were modeling for one of Matisse’s odalisque paintings.

Opulent, indeed.

For a continuation of "What's an Opulent Opossum?" click "newer post" below; there are four parts to this "introduction"!

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