Bessie is my 13-year old tortie, eight pounds of black and orange cat, her claws sharpened on my bedroom walls. She’s full of opinion, often expressed with operatic precision at two in the morning.
She’s easily surprised: I can walk up behind her, talking away, but she doesn’t notice me until I pet her. Then it’s off to the opera. One night, as she yowled in the bathroom (all the better for echoing), I thought: “Oh my God. Can’t she hear herself?” Ah, insight. That’s when I realized she is a tad hard-of-hearing. Deaf, some might say.
Bessie is the only cat I know who eagerly approaches kids. She’s a big hit with the youngsters, most of whom have never seen a cat up close lessin' it had got a slow start running away. And then all they see is its patoshie, skeedaddling around the corner.
She does not like visiting the vet. The last time I brought her, she tried to escape by clawing to the top of the exam room window screen. We had to wrap her in a towel to give her shots. When released, she leapt at the vet assistant's torso, claws out, screaming like something out of Steven King’s Pet Cemetery. The vet decided to forgo further physical examination, settling instead for a visual scan from a safe distance. Then, with a straight face, he asked me: "So, does she have any problems?”
Bessie likes to sleep on my keyboard in the winter. Settling in, she has renamed files: I have icons on my desktop that I don’t recognize (-O(%29jfmp0?lod, anyone?). A few years ago, she permanently deleted my Quicken software. And on one particularly slow news day, she picked the r- and f-keys off my keyboard and played soccer with them. I never found the r-key.
Did you know that you cannot replace the r-key on your laptop keyboard without installing a whole new keyboard? That’s another story.