Lotty, My Muse

I am a cat person without a cat. I haven't had a cat for years.

You know how when women want kids, they'll say their biological clock is ticking? That they're not getting any younger, and the urge to be a parent is getting stronger?

There needs to be a similar concept for pet ownership. I like to say that my kitty clock is ticking. Maybe it's actually just my biological clock, and since I don't want kids within the next five-to-ten years, my brain redirects my parenting instinct to cats. But anyway.

My last cat was Lotty, my muse.

When I was 18, still living with my parents, my brother found a kitten up one of the maple trees in the side of the yard. I went to investigate, and found the neighbor's daughter there.

I don't remember this kid's name, but I do know that she was seven, and she was completely bonkers. This kid would go outside her house in the wee hours of the morning and ride up and down the street on this noisy Big Wheel bike, screaming and singing at the top of her lungs all the time. Her family once had a little white dog that they had to get rid of because the little girl made a game of throwing him off the porch. I considered her the least qualified person in the world to rescue a kitten, but there she was, jumping up at the branch and flailing her arms, screaming, "COME DOWN, KITTY, COME DOWN!"

The kitten was probably six weeks old, with black-and-orange tortoiseshell fur. And she was not coming down for Wild Child, that was for sure. I told Wild Child to stop screaming, and when the kitten was calm, I brought her down. The kitten didn't panic or fight me when I touched her, and when Wild Child lost interest and went home, she actually seemed content.

Now, in my parents' neighborhood at this time, there were a lot of feral cats, and a lot of them ended up in our yard, making a short visit and then leaving the next day. We usually just left them alone whenever they dropped by. This kitten made it clear over the next few days that she wasn't the dropping-by type. Whenever I went outside on the front porch to read or work on my computer, she would appear out of nowhere, sit by my feet, and mew at me until I paid attention to her. At night, she stayed on the back porch. Early mornings, she saw me off to school. After a couple of days of this, I had gotten attached and asked my mother if we could keep her. Since, a few weeks before, we'd already gotten a kitten and found homes for his mother and littermates, my mom said no.

And then Wild Child's older sister decided to adopt her, and I got very nervous. I remembered Wild Child throwing that little white dog, like a fuzzy ball, off the porch. But I thought maybe her sister would make sure this kitten didn't suffer the same kind of torture.

One day I came home to find the kitten up the elm tree in our front yard. Wild Child and her older sister were there, but they couldn't get her down. This time, she'd also climbed out of my reach. As my mom went for the ladder, Wild Child's sister decided she didn't want the kitten anymore, because she was tired of chasing her up trees. They left when the kitten came down - and then my mom said we could keep her.

Since I "found" the kitten, Mom left her name up to me. I called her Charlotte, and for short, Lotty.

Lotty was such a perfect cat it was almost scary. She adapted easily to life indoors, house-trained quickly, and got along well with our other kitten, Willoughby. She loved to play, and when she was tired, she loved to cuddle. She got tagged by the household as *my* cat, because if I was home, then I was her first choice for cuddle time. She would sit in a ball on my lap and purr as I scratched her head and back. If I got distracted, by the TV or conversation, and stopped scratching, she would reach a paw up and gently bat my chin until I returned to my affections. She followed me wherever I went and curled around my ankles when I stood still. Sometimes she tried to follow me outside when I had to go to work or school. At night, she would sleep curled around my head, with her tail draped over my right shoulder and her nose by my left ear. Whenever I was writing on my computer, she'd sandwich herself in between my lap and the desk and nap. That's why I called her my muse.

Lotty had two litters of kittens by Willoughby - one of four, and one of three. We should have had her fixed, I know, but we never seemed to have the time or money, and luckily, we found homes for all the kittens, except two, which we kept - Wallaby and Darcy.

She stayed with me for two years, and I loved every day of it. Unfortunately, my siblings developed cat allergies during the second year. All the cats went from being exclusively indoor to indoor/outdoor. Lotty didn't seem to mind the new living arrangements. She behaved herself outside - by this time, she was fixed - and whenever she came inside at night, she was just as affectionate and curious and funny. She still slept on my head, and still served her duties as my muse.

And then she disappeared.

Lotty and Darcy just vanished from our yard one summer. No trace. Willoughby and Wallaby were still there, but they didn't seem to notice the disappearance. I searched the neighborhood, fearing, but never finding even the worst. I put up posters, I checked the local shelter. It was no use. I never saw my precious muse again.

To this day, I don't know what happened. I mourned her as dead when it was clear she wasn't coming back. But for all I know, she could still be alive somewhere. Maybe she's somebody else's muse now. I like to think that Lotty might be making somebody else's life as happy as she made mine. And if she ever decided to come back to me, I'd welcome her.
CaffeineAlchemist CaffeineAlchemist
22-25, F
Sep 15, 2012