Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Story of the Isabels

It's national cat day again. According to Facebook's reminders of my posts from a year ago, 2 years ago, etc., a year ago on this day I showed a picture of my cat Isabel and said someday I would blog about why she is named that. Well, that day has come. With all the serious and depressing stuff going on in this election year, I thought a lighter, somewhat whimsical post might be in order.

Jennifer and Tom
In the mid-eighties when my kids were, well, kids, we were visited by a gray tabby cat quite frequently. She was a sweet cat, but somewhat skittish around people. My children loved animals, though, and she warmed up to them eventually. They named her--you guessed it-- Isabel. I think the name was from a character on a cartoon they liked to watch, but I'm not certain.  

Isabel made herself at home in our carport. In fact, one day we discovered she had a litter of kittens there. Five kittens, to be exact.  The kids were ecstatic to discover this and started in with pleas of "can we keep them?"  At first we said no, but with time they wore us down and we kept two of them: a gray tabby they named Tom and a orange tabby named Tiger. 

I'm foggy on what happened to Isabel;  I think she disappeared one day and we never saw her again. We still had 2 kittens, though. Then one day we found Tom in the street where he had been run over. We were heartbroken; we all cried over Tom and I started letting Tiger come inside more to keep him safer. My husband wouldn't let him stay in all the time until he got in the fan of the car and almost died. Then he became an indoor/outdoor cat.

But I digress. This story is about the Isabels in our lives.

Isabel II and Tiger
In 1986, we sold that house and moved temporarily into a duplex while we looked for another house. We managed to get Tiger to move with us, even though everyone always said you can't move a cat; they will always go back to their old territory. 

Enter Isabel II. Yes, Tiger started hanging out with a gray cat who looked a lot like the original Isabel, even though we knew it wasn't her. So of course they named this gray cat Isabel II. 

This Isabel also had kittens on our carport, and then promptly got herself killed when they were only about 2 weeks old. I know, right? This is why I do not condone indoor/outdoor cats anymore except maybe in the country. Too many cars.

We moved to the country and took Tiger with us. He was such a good, sweet cat. Tiger was the best cat we have ever had (shh...don't tell Izzy). He was an indoor/outdoor country cat for the rest of his days. We moved him twice and he chose to stay with us. He would jump right up into my arms when he wanted to be held. I've never had another cat do that.

Years went by, during which Tiger passed away. The kids grew up and Jeremy, then Jennifer, went away to college. I went through a divorce in the late 90s and then in 2000, Jeff left for college and I was alone. Really alone, for the first time in my life. I did not handle it well. I went through major depression, a condition it took years to overcome. 

I was encouraged to get a cat to keep me company. So I adopted a black and white cat which turned out to be possessed.  She was downright mean. She didn't like anyone but me, and she even bit me sometimes just out of the blue. I didn't know what to do about her. She actually made my lonely, depressed existence worse.

Christmas 2005 rolled around, and the kids were coming home for Christmas. My daughter, Jennifer, called and said she and her husband were just getting in to town and would be at my house in about 10 minutes, and would I please lock the demon cat up in my bedroom?  (I won't even bother telling her name. Everyone called her the Demon Cat). This was a reasonable request, so I did. I was used to no one liking my cat.

Jennifer came in carrying a little bitty calico kitten that she had adopted from the humane society in the town where she lived. We talked, and it was decided I had to take the mean cat to the humane society the next day.  It was hard to do, but Jeff was home for Christmas and he went with me. I cried, oh boy, did I cry. I figured it was a death sentence for her, and I didn't want that even though she was almost feral and even bit me. But I did. If they weren't able to adopt her out, I reasoned, at least she was put down humanely.

Isabel III in Dec 2005
So....a new cat entered my life on Christmas 2005, a tiny squeakbox that could barely meow. Jennifer introduced her to me as Isabel III. I'm not sure why; she is not gray like the first 2. I think it was in memory of those 2 sweet, gentle cats and in hopes that she would be a sweet cat, too. 

She has turned out to be a good cat. Eleven years later, Isabel, nicknamed Izzy, is still my roommate. She is a sweet cat who used to spend her days on various window seats, curious about the cats outside and the squirrels in the yard. These days, though, she shows little interest in the goings on outside and prefers to sleep in a patch of sunlight in the laundry room or curled up at my feet. She follows me around like a puppy, and is great company. In the mornings, after I have gone to the bathroom she loudly protests if I don't immediately put food in her dish. She has some arthritis and has trouble jumping up on things, so she mostly stays on the floor, or occasionally on the couch with me if I have a blanket. 

Side note: The Blanket of Incentive is what Jeff started calling a soft, fuzzy blanket that I got for Christmas one year. Every time I settled in with my blanket and a book or a movie here came Izzy. The blanket was soft and inviting and she could never resist it. So after a while, if I wanted her to come sit with me all I had to do is get out the Blanket of Incentive and she would come running. That's the story of the Blanket of Incentive, which is bonus. You get that one for free. It goes hand in hand with the story of Izzy so it had to be explained.

Isabel III today
She is the last in the line of Isabels. The first 2 never really adopted our family and didn't stay around long, but this one came to stay. I hope she has several more years left; she is not getting around very well these days.

Izzy is spoiled rotten, and she is getting up in years. She is a sweet cat like the first 2 and deserving of the name she was given. 

And that's the story of the Isabels.