November 13, 2015

Why I love my cat so much

Filed under: About The Animals — Tags: , , , — Ann @ 12:55 pm
Geronimo Cat

Geronimo Cat

I’m sure there are some who may question the depth of my devotion to Geronimo Cat. After all, he’s not a “people.” I was thinking about it this morning and I realized that the main reason we’re so bonded is that the relationship is in no way one-sided. In short, it’s easy to love those who so generously give love right back to you. And Geronimo gives back in full measure the devotion directed his way. We clearly need each other — when he’s frightened at the vet, he scrunches up as close to me as he can get; when I’m sad, he seeks me out to climb in my lap. And we’re also there for each other — he comes running when I call him, and I jump up when he calls me.

In a Hubpages article “Eight Ingredients for a Successful Relationship,” the named essentials are Love and Affection, Honesty and Trust, Respect and Consideration, Good Communication, Unselfishness, Forgiveness, Appreciation, and Sense of Humor. G’s and my steward-companion relationship has all of those qualities. He definitely shows an abundance of affection; he trusts me to take care of him; I respect his insistence that his belly not be touched; we have developed a communication that astonishes even Neal (I can tell when G wants me to retrieve his fluffy blanket, for example); we’re both unstinting in our giving — I bring him collars and treats, he brings me dead things; he forgives me for taking him to the vet and I forgive him for scaring the life out of me by going in the street; the mutual appreciation is obvious; and — sense of humor? I’m sure he laughs in his cat-way at my dancing, and he definitely makes me laugh when he bats and chases acorns around the side patio

In a very real way, there are really only two ingredients for a successful relationship: you need to need each other; and you need to give and receive love in equal measure. G and me? The real deal.

May 13, 2012

Up to me

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 4:33 pm


I was taking my walk this afternoon, enjoying the movement and freedom after a morning spent studying. As I was crossing Austin Street something caught my eye: a little brown bird — perhaps a baby — was huddled down almost in the middle of the street, wings splayed, looking frightened, definitely wounded. I looked around as if expecting…what? His mother to show up and take him home? Someone to drive by and help me?

A man on a bicycle wobbled by with two young kids not far behind. Aha – help! “Do you live on this street?” I asked hopefully. Plan #1 was to at least get the bird out of the street, because any car moving from south to north was going to squish it. He shook his head regretfully and moved on. I continued to stand guard over my charge, kneeling frequently to check on him. I thought I saw a little blood in his beak. Every now and then he closed his eyes as if against the onslaught of such unthinkable vulnerability.

I knew he needed help quickly. I saw a well-dressed woman carrying flowers across the street, apparently to her neighbor. “Excuse me!” I yelled. “Do you have a shoebox?” She didn’t, but after some explanation she agreed to get me a bag, so there I was in the middle of a busy street, a giant Whole Foods bag in hand, gently scooping a tiny shivering life form. I practically ran home. And, I confess that some of my thoughts along the way were along the lines of “Why me?” In the universe next door, I hadn’t noticed the bird and was continuing my walk. In this universe, however, I had a task.

Several months ago Neal and I rescued a bird which had flown into our front window, so I knew exactly what to do with a hurt bird: place it in a shoebox lined with a soft cloth, poke holes in the lid, then keep it in a warm, quiet cat-free place until you can get it to a rescue center. I checked the Sonoma County Bird Rescue Center website and to my amazement they are open 7 days a week. The thing is, I hate driving. I hate driving with a passion and I especially hate driving the almost-one-hour trip to Santa Rosa, which I do too many times a week. Nevertheless, I knew I was going. Neal said he’d go with me; I drove. Every now and again I asked Neal to peek under the lid to see how Sami was doing — yes, I had named him — and Neal would give me reports like, “He’s just looking around,” and my heart would melt to think of it. As I drove, I marveled at my good fortune living in a place where an injured animal could get medical help — likely provided by tender-hearted volunteers — seven days a week. “God bless America,” I said out loud to no one.

Three very nice staff members were waiting. The gave Sami a number (0567 — an awfully big number for such a tiny bird) and told us we could call back in a few days to see how he’s doing. They asked where we found him because they try to return healed animals to their own territory.

I know this has likely happened to many of you reading this: you’re driving to work and see a stray dog trying to cross a crowded highway. Or you find a feral kitten. Or, like me, you find an injured or dazed bird. Animals that need our help. And you know that no one would know or think anything of it if you kept going. But you don’t. You find the rope to use as a leash or the shoebox or the blanket in your backseat and do whatever you can to get the little life to safety. I think there’s a verse in the Bible about God personally rescuing every fallen sparrow. But to my mind, if there is a God, it would be that voice whispering when you least expect it, “It’s up to you.”

Because sometimes, convenient or not, it just is.

August 5, 2010

No, Really: The BEST Cat

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 4:12 pm

At 3 pm today, Neal got up from one of his marathon naps and asked, “Where’s the Boy?” (Boy, The Boy, Our Boy, G-Boy….all some of the nicknames for Geronimo, our almost three-year-old Bullseye Tabby). I said I hadn’t seen him since I left for work this morning at 7 am, and Neal’s face shadowed darkly with concern as he replied, “He’s been gone all day — since you left.”

While G-Boy’s being away from home for eight hours straight isn’t unprecedented, it’s highly unusual and I don’t remember the last time it happened. Typically, he strays off for a maximum of three consecutive hours — and lately, more like two. So now, both of us became rather worried. I said, “I’ll go call him.”

I don’t know that much about cats, but my entire cat-owning history has never included one who would come when his name was called. But in the past, Geronimo has done just that. Not always, not predictably, but just often enough so that if I’m really desperate, I’ll pull that particular ace out of its hole.

I went out into our backyard and hollered down our street, “Geronimo! Kitty kitty! C’mon boy!,” then went into the side yard and bellowed the same come-hither down our street. Then I started sweeping leaves (1) to keep busy, (2) to be outside if he came home, and (3) to make noise in case he could hear me. Then, with worried eyes, I watched his favorite entry points: through our backyard fence, or down the street from the east.

After two minutes of no-cat, I put the broom down and turned around and bellowed, “Ger-ON –” and suddenly a black-and-brown blur came tear-assing down the sidewalk, up the concrete fence, and down onto our patio with a big inquisitive, “Merr—owwwwwr!!”

I yelled to Neal, “Here he is!” and slumped on the concrete where he’d rested; there was much fussing and good-boying and purring and scritching and then Neal came outside and co-fussed. And then, because I didn’t want G-Boy to come home for nothing, I lavished salmon treats on our little guy and thanked him profusely for coming when called, cooing, “You’re the best boy in the whole world.”

Before Geronimo, I wasn’t much of a cat person. But as you may be able to tell, I’ve fallen head over (his) long silky tail in love with my 15 pounds of gorgeous boy. And you know what I love best? That he knows where home is, and that it’s here, with us.

Geronimo, At Home on Neal's Hand

July 25, 2010

Geronimo’s Gifts

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 9:26 am

Yesterday a new friend who is also a cat-”owner” (I prefer “steward”) asked me whether our cat, Geronimo, brings us “gifts.” You’re probably aware that when cat folks use that term, they’re referring to a cat’s predilection for bringing its people rats, mice, squirrels, frogs, lizards and/or various parts thereof. And yes, Geronimo has proudly presented us with more than his fair share of the local wildlife. In fact, if we don’t keep our living room window tightly shut, we will glance up from our reading to observe, in horror, as our beloved feline lunges into the room with a live (or dead) rat in his mouth.

But when my new friend posed this question yesterday, I smiled and told her the strange truth. In addition to his lost-collars which we thought were long gone but which Geronimo often brings back, months later, our beautiful bulls-eye tabby

Geronimo With Prayer Flags and Bracelet

has also brought us:

1) Tibetan prayer flags;
2) A brand-new blue-and-black woven friendship bracelet;
3) A rubber snake; and
4) Bikini bottoms.

His manner of presentation is always the same: we will hear him emit a very unusual cry at the living room window or the back door; when we respond, he’s either gently holding his gift or dropping it for our inspection.

At least one of my friends speculates that our poor cat is a kleptomaniac. I don’t know about that, but I am considering whispering requests into his fuzzy little ear. “Geronimo, see if you can find me $40,000 for graduate school.”

Really, is that any crazier than bikini bottoms?

March 15, 2010

The 18 Names of Geronimo

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 3:59 pm

Neal and I variously refer to Geronimo as:eatingwithborder
The Little Woojums
The Boy
The Cat Experience
Raymond Purr
And sometimes even “Geronimo”

Do you have nicknames for your pets?

March 1, 2010

Geronimo Inspires Adverbial Splendor

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 4:07 pm

Neal, to me, while petting Geronimo: “His paws are so warm !

Me: “That’s because he’s so thankgodfully alive.”

February 28, 2010

Bliss and the Art of Cat-Adoring

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 4:38 pm

Bliss: one or two times a day, Geronimo lets me scoop him up in my arms, and he stays perfectly still while I hold him close and stroke his silky back and whisper love-lines into his kitty ear. Then, in one wiggle of a hind paw, he tells me we’re done, and I gently place him on the floor, thanking him for letting me love him.

January 5, 2010

Tail of Woe

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 4:22 pm

About a week ago, we noticed an injury high on Geronimo’s tail which wasn’t healing. Seeking advice from cat-savvy friends, we were told, variously: dab it with alcohol, treat with hydrogen peroxide, wash with water, put on antibiotics, do NOT put on antiobotics, ad conflicteum.

Yesterday, the normally-feisty tabby was behaving much like my first husband, without the affinity for beer: he barely moved all day, engaged in no activities whatsoever, and had an overall dullness which spelled V-E-T.

By 5 pm our little guy was latched into a cat carrier, emitting high-pitched opinions all the way to the vet’s office. The diagnosis was abscess, requiring surgery, stitches, and a three-night Ann-And-Neal-expense-paid stay at Chez Veterinaire. Geronimo was so good at the vet’s office, by the way. In the waiting area when he was still encaged, I knelt on the floor to coo to him, and was shocked: I’d never before seen the normally cool, swaggering hepcat in this state. He was shivering, shaking, and trying to bury his sweet face in the corner of his cage; it was awful. However, once in the exam room and out of the carrier, he charmed the nurse and the doctor with his flirtatious ways, letting them rub his head and then, after being let off the table, curiously asking to be let back on the table, presumably to look around some more. Some cat.

Now Neal and I find ourselves catless for the first time since last July, and it’s surprisingly unbearable. Geronimo fills up the entire apartment — not just with his Nip Box, Den of Inikitty (don’t ask), assorted balls and stuffed Things, catnip-peppered chair, his Mom Blanket, and food and water and snack bowls. He fills it up with his Geronimo energy, all playful and important and sudden and affectionate. It’s not right without him.

I’m not a Cat Person. I never, ever thought I’d be writing the praises of a fluffy paw-possessor that wasn’t a dog. But Geronimo is extraordinary (no, really). I know you won’t believe me, you’ll think I’m just one of those nuts who treats their pet like it was a kid or something insane like that.

Nonsense. But I do want to keep this short. The vet’s office will be closing soon and I need to call Geronimo and tell him ‘good-night’ and that I love him.

September 20, 2009

The Case of the Amazing Geronimo…

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 7:12 am

…and the Reappearing Collars.

Breakaway collars are de rigueur for cats these days, for all the obvious reasons. The trouble is, well, they break. Away. And disappear. In the few months that my husband Neal and I have not-owned Geronimo (see “Here Cat!”), he has come home collarless three times.

The first collar to go missing was his original collar, the orange cloth one, the one he was wearing when we met him, which had his name and the phone number of his real mom engraved on a black disk dangling from a metal loop. That disappeared months ago. His real mom replaced that with a sporty medium green one with a bell, upon which she wrote her phone number in black Sharpie ink, having no more black disks.

One day, he came home without that and Neal and I went to Safeway and bought him a bright red one with a red bell, and we wrote Real Mom’s phone number in black Sharpie on that one.

He’d been wearing the red collar for awhile when one day, Neal found his green one, dropped on the stoop of our back door. Amazed, Neal brought it in to show me, and we pretty much agreed that Geronimo had brought it back. When I e-mailed Real Mom that after a long period of absence the green collar had returned, she wrote back, “Geronimo wants to wear that one; I’d put it back on him.”

Well, Neal and I being procrastinators as to Non-Urgent Matters — and switching cat collars is most certainly in that category (pardon the pun) at present — we left the bright red collar on and tucked the green one away for future use. Experience had taught that we’d be needing it.

And sure enough, about a week later Geronimo came home without the red collar. However, Real Mom got a call from a woman who lives a block over from us; she’d found the red collar and would hang it on her mailbox for retrieval. I did indeed walk over to get it but, meanwhile, we put the green collar back on Geronimo. And tucked the red one away for almost certain future use.

Then for awhile all was quiet. He came home every day and voila! Green collar was still intact.

But a few minutes ago, Neal and I were sitting on the couch talking and we heard Geronimo outside crying at the living room window. He usually does that when he comes home from wandering, so he can get his food. But this afternoon his cry sounded odd and choked. I asked, “Is he sick!?” Neal said, “He’s got something! It’s another cat’s collar!” We both went running around to the side yard. There was Geronimo, standing on the patio. Wearing his green collar. And looking down at — his original orange cloth collar with the black ID disk, which has been missing for months.

Just goes to show you — well, I don’t know what it goes to show you. We now have three collars. Knowing Geronimo, we’re going to hang on to all three.

August 3, 2009

Here Cat!

Filed under: About The Animals — Ann @ 6:56 am

Past a certain age, one seems not so much to be learning life’s lessons but to be re-learning them. Lately, I’ve been working on non-attachment. It started with the cat.

A few months ago, we began being visited by a sweet little one-eyed tabby. We discovered that he belongs to a woman across Broadway but he so loves playing in our creek bed that he risks all nine lives to cross five lanes of traffic to get here. Born feral, he’s a wanderer. His “mom” and Neal and I have had numerous conversations about how best to manage little Geronimo’s care and safety. Early on, when we mistakenly assumed he wanted to be with us (when it’s actually our neighborhood he pines for) his mom even “gave” him to us – but we discovered that he can tolerate being indoors only three minutes at a time, then he howls like a banshee: “mee-ow…me-OUT!”

The bottom line is this: he’s neither ours, nor not ours; he’s neither here nor there; he belongs to all of us, he belongs to nobody. He’s his own cat.

So I’ve had to assign him to a special part of my heart – like a bad boyfriend, every encounter with him comes with internal whispers: “Don’t fall too hard!” and “He’s going to love you and leave you!” It’s quite the challenge.

Geronimo has become a near-constant reminder of one of life’s most important lessons. He’s a living, breathing variation of every quote about “letting go” we’ve ever heard, sent in a greeting card, or uttered to others in comfort: “Happiness is as a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne. “Happiness is something that comes into our lives through doors we don’t even remember leaving open.” ~Rose Lane

I don’t remember leaving a door open for Geronimo – yet here he is. For now. And right now, there is happiness. It’s all I ask. That, and a lot of purring.

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