For cat children of all ages:
This is the story of Zoe and Yoshi. This is “My Cats Tail.”
Once upon a time there was a beautiful blue grey cat with a white mask, white chest, little white snowshoes, and a pink nose. Her name was Zoe. Zoe was a very poor cat who grew up under the worst of circumstances. That she survived at all is a miracle unto itself. She came from the projects in Brooklyn where she lived in the basement. There she was used as bait to incite dogfights for the entertainment of those who had nothing better to do.
As a result Zoe was very guarded and afraid of all humans. Humans had mostly mistreated her with the exception of one kind older lady who lived in the building. Whenever she could, this loving woman would make her way to the basement where she knew Zoe lived, and leave her food and water. Without her kindness Zoe would have died.
With the wounds she bore from her abuse, a torn right eye that left her mostly blind in that one eye, and a short stubby tail that looked more like a rabbits than a cats tail, as the rest had been bit off; somehow Zoe remained strong. I think she was lucky too for she not only found a way to survive, but one night she gave birth to beautiful little kittens right in the basement of the projects. And I’m happy to say, one of those kittens soon became known as Yoshi.
After Zoe gave birth, the kind older woman continued to leave what food she could afford and water too for Zoe and her brood. But one day six or so weeks after their birth, the old woman came down to the basement and found Zoe and her kittens missing. This upset her very much and she became very worried. She searched and searched throughout the basement for the missing kitties calling for them everywhere, hoping to hear a meow. She soon discovered that someone from the building had thrown Yoshi and her mama Zoe, and the rest of her brothers and sisters, out into the streets to die. Realizing they had lost what little safety they had, the woman called a group who was known to help kittens and cats in need and asked them to come and pick up her wary friend and her litter, which they did.
I don’t know what happened to the other little kittens. They were gone by the time I met Zoe and Yoshi, but I’d like to believe they survived. I was only told that Zoe and Yoshi had this unusual mother daughter bond and the people from the rescue group did not want to separate the two. Given Zoe’s lack of socialization I have to think they also thought it would be easier to find a home for a traumatized abused mama cat if she came with an irresistibly cute little one, and I’m certain they were right.
Planning on adopting two kittens, I found myself one morning in the bathroom of some stranger’s apartment in Manhattan with a somewhat wild protective and fearful older mama cat and her completely innocent naïve and trusting little sidekick who was still nursing. Immediately I felt an attachment to these two little misfits, and before I knew it I could see my head bobbing up and down, voluntarily shaking yes to the woman from the cat rescue group.
When I first brought my new kitties home to my apartment, Zoe was very leery and fearful. But she was such a good mama! And Yoshi was so small she fit into the palm of my hand. She looked just like Zoe only with a black little nose instead of pink, and a long tail. She had a very mischievous curious nature and loved to play. She loved to play with water too, which I found unusual, as I had always thought cats didn’t like water.
Yoshi lived the life of a carefree kitten and spent her days either sleeping, basking in the sun, or chasing around the apartment after her toys and little aluminum foil balls. She had this truly comical fascination with the bathroom faucet, the water left in my shower, and my bathtub too, where she would jump in the second I got out, especially if the tub or shower was still wet. Unlike Zoe who did not leave the living room, Yoshi would scamper around the apartment walking in-between my feet following me from room to room as trusting a kitty as Zoe was not. She was very funny, and exceptionally cute with the most unusual markings I had ever seen, accept of course for her mother.
As little Yoshi flourished, Zoe remained a good and protective mother. Still very shy towards humans, she continued to be cautious and untrusting. Laughing and playing with Yoshi, Zoe would watch me from the sidelines, sometimes looking tempted and almost ready to join in. Slowly the two began to take over my living room. Eventually they monopolized the best chair in the house; a big old velvet down stuffed chair. They became so comfortable in that chair, that one day I realized it was no longer mine. And before I knew it there sat double-decker cats with one cat sleeping on the top cushion and the other one sleeping sweetly on the bottom.
I continued to remain very patient with Zoe, talking softly and reassuringly. “You’re a beauty and a love cat.” When finally after six months of keeping a respectful distance, she let me pet her. It was amazing! As her confidence continued to grow, each day I would go to her and gently pet her again hoping she would get use to a kind human touch. Soon you could see it in the way she held herself and pranced around the apartment, Zoe had begun to feel safe. And all the while I kept telling her over and over, “Zoe, you’re a beauty and a love cat.” “You’re a beauty and a love cat.” And that became our mantra.
Late one night after two years of living together, Zoe unexpectedly turned up in my bedroom and jumped up on my bed. Then Yoshi jumped up too. Soon everyone was on the bed and a beautiful relaxed Zoe started to lick and preen her two-year old baby Yoshi.
From that day on Zoe and Yoshi both slept on my bed every night and slowly Zoe grew into a happy confident trusting cat. Eventually she started to trust other human beings, and let them pet her too. And about four years into our friendship, she let me hold her.
I have to say Zoe became not only the beauty of which she was inherently born but also a love cat to me and everyone else who walked through my front door. She transformed herself into the official hostess and greeter, greeting everyone upon their arrival with a friendly grin and a meow. This once fearful abused cat became the sweetest cat that most people have ever come to know. And if she liked you, thought you were someone special, she would rub her head up against yours, as only she could when you sat on the couch, marking you with her head and a little tooth that stuck out, as a friend for life.
And did I tell you Zoe could fly? She was amazing. She would jump 4 feet up and 3 feet over from my couch to land on the top of my armoire, where she would perch herself for the day and reside over the room while keeping watch.
Both Zoe and Yoshi continued to thrive; theirs was a rags to riches almost fairly tale like story, but more importantly a true story about the power of love and friendship. Abused and from the projects, Zoe and Yoshi found a home and were finally safe. They opened their hearts and learned to trust, making lots of new friends along the way. They gave love and received loved, and lived happily ever after while holding court from their very own velvet down stuffed chair in Manhattan forever double decker kitties.
So that’s the story of Zoe and Yoshi. That is my own Cats Tail.
Zoe has since passed but Yoshi has found a new friend in her younger sister Suki. But of course that’s another Cat Tail.
c May 2008
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