When I was five my Mom and Dad had a boardinghouse on Capitol Hill in Seattle. We had a cat named Mystery. The reason for the name was because everybody swore that the cat got in, no matter what you did, and no-one could figure out how. Dad would say, "You lock all the windows, lock the basement door, lock the back door, open the front door, put the cat out, close and lock the front door, turn around, and THERE'S THE CAT."
This is, of course, Typical Cat Phenomenon.
My father also used to tell us about The Dog-Killing Cats. He swore that one cat they had when HE was a kid kept coming out with litter after litter that would grow up to be HUGE cats, knee-high to Paul Bunyan it sounded like, and they would stalk the neighborhood, terrorizing the dogs.
Reminds me of Sid.
My mother told of one mama cat who got along just fine with the family dog. But whenever she had a litter, she really didn't like people handling her kittens, but would never say anything to the people. She would just hop out of the box, leave the house, walk around to the backyard, walk up to the sleeping dog, and BAT him across the nose.
Then she would go back inside.
We had a pair of kittens once, from the same litter, radically different in almost every way. They were the authentic American Mixed Breed; part Siamese, part Manx, and a large part Something. One, male, was tiger-striped, with a full, fluffy white chest, tufted ears, large light-green eyes, big wide flat paws, and about 3/4" of tail with a kink in the middle. He was immoderately affectionate toward human beings, especially His Own, and fought almost any other cat except his sister. His sister was long, black, and slinky, with a little white patch on her chest, with a classically Siames head and vivid green eyes. And she was the Standard Neurotic Feline. She would come *tearing* into a room like she'd just done a mile in three seconds, and STOP, dead sudden, in the middle of the room, and just stare at you. You'd just stare back. Then *whoosh* she'd *tear* off again at a mile-in- three-seconds.
She was known, sometimes, when the kitchen floor had been freshly waxed, to come *tearing* in, lose her footing, and skid fwap! into a wall.
We called them Witchy-Fu and Tiger-Fu. I have no idea what they called us.
They showed a lot of intelligence. It was very hard to keep them out of ANYTHING. They developed a system of getting into the lower kitchen cupboards - one of them would paw at the door edge from the kitchen counter, while the other pawed from floor level, and sooner or later they opened it. We had to keep all catfood, or any other food, in upper cupboards.
They could open room doors, too. Witchy would get her paw into the
door-crack. Tiger would leap at the handle and brush his big wide
paws around it, twisting it. Witchy would pull. Unless the door
was locked, they got it open.
We have a cat named Sid down at the Real Change. I believe you can even see a picture of him on the Real Change web site. The way we got him was, a vendor came in with this kitten. He talked about how there was this old lady who always bummed cigarettes from him, and one day he said, "You don' never pay me back nothin'; I ain't gon' give you no mo' cig'rettes." And the next day, she came up to him with this kitten, and says, "Here. You can have the cat." So he says to Tim Harris The Editor God, "Here. YOU can have the cat. I don' have no place t' keep no cat!"
The kitten was healthy, well-fed, clean, weaned, and even house- trained. Tim had it checked out by a vet and given all the shots, anyway.
We ran a Name That Cat Contest, and got a whole range of suggestions, from "Small Change" to "Meat". But the most dynamic personality in the Real Change office is a young woman named Ozula Sioux (whom I KNOW you can see on the web site), and Ozula decided his name was Sid. For Sid Vicious. So, within about 20 minutes, all of Seattle knew his name was Sid. I hold out to this extent - I insist his name stands for El Cid, the Conqueror. Although I do spell it El Sid.
He is fearless, affectionate, independent, one of the cats that instinctively sheathes his claws while playing, and altogether has become the most indispensable member of the staff. It used to be, when a vendor walked through the door, their first words were "I want 40 papers", or whatever number. Now, everybody's first words are, "Where's Sid?"
Whether we're anxious, lonely, discouraged, hyper, fuming or just plain bored, Sid will play with us, or sit in our laps and be petted, or just let us watch him, and we feel better.
And he does amusing things, like melt backward in Tim's arms until the whole office stops to just watch in dumb amazement that his back doesn't crack. (Have you noticed that both cats and small children can totally relax in positions that would cripple most of us?)
And walk across the keyboard when you're typing.