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Friday, November 18, 2011

The Case of the Purloined Puddies

Here's a random childhood memory that I recently found stuffed in the recesses of my brain:

     We had packed the old, orange cat we called Barfy in a box when we moved to Pleasant Grove at the beginning of my third grade school year. He howled the entire trip.  Jim and I tried to comfort him in his box sitting between us on the back seat of the car, but he would claw and chew us whenever we tried to hold or pet him.  Near the end of the voyage, we were all as miserable as Barfy and could hardly wait to release him from his cardboard prison.  

     As we pulled up to our new house, his box was the first one opened and the most easily emptied of all those we brought with us because as we lifted it out of the car, he bolted without a backward glance and was gone.  Mom, Jim and I looked for him for months after that, but never saw him again.

     The next fall when we moved back to Hinckley we had been without a cat for nearly a year;  I am sure that was the longest we had ever gone without a feline at our house.  Once settled back into our home and routine, Jim and I started begging for a kitten and Mom started looking for one to join the family.  I don't know where she found the two she brought home, but they were instantly accepted and loved.   They were yellow and white babies from the same litter, but one was much bigger than the other.  I think we must have got the runt and the biggest of the family so it made perfect sense to name the small one 'Itten Bitten Kitten' and the other one 'Biggie Kitty'.  Itten Bitten and Biggie were cute and fun. They would tangle themselves together wrestling and playing, they would bounce and bound around and on top of one another in their wild, cat games. They were very entertaining and we adored them.  Over the next two months, Biggie kept getting bigger, but Itten Bitten didn't seem to grow at all.  

     That next spring we went to visit my Grandparents for a week and left the cats at home with my friend, Lynette, as the animal sitter.  I don't remember much about the trip to Arizona, but I remember as soon as we pulled back into our driveway, bustling out of the back of the truck and running to the "Little House" where the kittens were housed to play with Biggie and Itten Bitten, but they were gone.  My parents made us unpack the truck and get everything into the house before I could call Lynette and find out where the cats were at.  When I did phone, she said she didn't know what had happened to the cats.  One day when she came to feed and water them, they were just gone.  The door was still closed but they had vanished.

     Jim and I mourned over those kittens and talked about them all the time.  A month or more later, we finally learned what had happened to our cats.  Mrs. Taylor who lived around the corner from our place, had her children and grandchildren from Salt Lake City visiting at her house and the kids had seen Itten Bitten climb under the door of the little house.  Biggie was inside meowing for Itten because he was too big to fit under the door and couldn't get out.  So instead of opening the door and putting Itten Bitten back in, they opened the door and let Biggie Kitty out and took them to their grandma's house where they fell in love with them and decided to take them with them when they returned to Salt Lake.

     I was absolutely incensed that Mrs. Taylor would allow her grandchildren to steal our cats.  It changed the way I felt about the woman.  As a ten-year-old, I felt there was something very immoral about an adult who would allow her grandchildren to take kittens home which obviously belonged to her neighbors.  Even today, I still feel a sense of shock and dismay that a grandparent, a set of parents and even children would have thought that was an acceptable behavior.

     After a period of grieving we did replace those kittens with two more.  The new pair was also from the same litter.  They were the same size, but they were not the same color.  One was pure black and the other one was all white except for a black splotch on his forehead. Again, we applied our creative naming skills and called them Blacky and Whitey. 


Tina said...

I can't believe your neighbor would let her grandkids take your cats either!!

Maybe it is an old lady thing though. My dad would get so upset and my grandmother sometimes. More than once on her trip from Salt Lake to Delta to visit us, her and grandma would stop and "rescue" a lost baby lamb and bring it to us!!! Out and out stealing is what it was . . . I'm sure those shepherds would have looked and found those lambs . . . . but they weren't so sure!!!!

Tina said...

oops, I meant to say "her and grandpa" oh well!

Georgia said...

Your cute little grandparents rescuing the baby lambs is a sweet mental picture, Tina.

I can remember at least two times we were driving somewhere in Millard County and seeing new lambs on the wrong side of the fence with a frantic mother on the other side bleating about being separated. The two times I can recall, my dad got out of his truck and lifted the baby over the fence. If the momma hadn't been right there, I guess you would want to take them to the Youngs' to be cared for.

I hadn't considered that Mrs. Taylor and her family may have thought no one was caring for the kittens and they were saving them. Thank you for another perspective!

Jim Shumway said...

Another testament to our animal-naming prowess!