This month we’re blogging about pets. I don’t have any pets now because I’m allergic to cats and dogs (and lack the time, energy and money for pet ownership). But there was one special cat in my life for many years—a Siamese named Cleo.
My mother brought her home when I was fifteen. Our old cat had recently died, and Mom decided to get a new companion for our six-year-old Siamese, Tia. I remember the excitement of coming home from school to meet the new kitten, who was sitting on a dining room chair when I arrived. When I pulled out the chair, this adorable, delicate little thing looked up at me with bright blue eyes that were slightly crossed—giving her a look somewhere between dimwitted and deranged—and bellowed at me. It was more of a “waah!” than a meow. Her loud human-baby-like voice was part of her charm.
Because of my allergies, Mom banished the kitten from my bedroom. But I smuggled her in that first night and let her sleep in my bed, tucked under the covers next to me with her paws over my arm. Her purr was just about as loud as her voice and rumbled on for ages. She slept in my bed every night until I moved out of the house years later.
People have the impression Siamese cats are nasty, but Cleo was sweet and loving. Like any cat, she had her destructive tendencies. In the wee hours, she would jump onto the shelves in my room and knock things over. She chewed up my headphones and shredded the picture sleeves on my precious 45s (if you are of a certain age, you know what I’m talking about). She was persnickety, and yowled and muttered in complaint if things were not to her liking.
Tia didn’t appreciate the interloper and never accepted her. Often Cleo ran to me for protection from Tia’s wrath. And in return, Cleo saved me from many teenage bouts of despair, comforting me with cuddles and purrs. She sat in my lap when I watched TV, and enjoyed being carried around with her chin resting on my shoulder. When I felt like I didn’t have a friend in the world, she reassured me otherwise.
After I moved away to go to college, for a while Cleo sat on my bed in the evenings and yowled. I missed her, too, alone in my little bed in residence. Eventually we got used to being apart. Not being around her as much, I developed an allergic reaction to her. I got busy with marriage and having a baby, and she became sickly.
Cleo died at the ripe old age of eighteen, after a good life in a loving home. When I think about her, I still miss her, and wish very much that I could find another cat just like her. But I doubt that’s possible.