This is Jingles.
Jingles is my beloved cat, acquired nine years ago while I was working part time at a riverside fish camp. It was good supplemental work and menial as it was, it was one of the best jobs I ever had. My primary task was to set up the kitchen for the day and to sell coffee to the early-risng locals, mostly hunters and guys coming off the night shift.
Jingles - who didn't have a name when I met her - was one of the many strays that hung around outside begging scraps. She was my favorite of them all, a little bobtailed Siamese mutant of a thing that would weave herself around my ankles each morning as I unlocked the doors.
On the December morning she was run over, I wasn't even aware it had happened until a lady who'd witnessed the whole thing came running in with a box, to tell me how the driver ahead of her had intentionally swerved to hit a poor little cat just as it was clearning the pavement's edge. When I looked in the box and saw it was my favorite stray, my heart sunk like a stone.
The impact had left my furry friend in shock, and with a badly broken leg. My distress was obvious, but I was exceedingly fortunate that the restaurant owner, a gentle giant of a man, held me in such high esteem. Noting my distress, he offered to take the cat to his veterinarian and have her mended - as a gift to me. Normally I'm loathe to accept this sort of generosity, but in this case I didn't even think twice.
Jingles - named by the veterinarian because her misfortune ocurred right before Christmas - came home with me two days later. Now out of shock, she proceeded to thump around our little house in a purple cast as if she owned the place. When Larry told me I'd have to find a home for her, one look from me said what I didn't have to: Jingles was home.
It didn't take us long to realize this was no ordinary cat. For one thing, she's not at all afraid of dogs. In fact, when Frodo the High Maintenance Dachshund came to live with us about three years ago, Jingles wasted no time in schooling him in the Way of the Cat.
The Way of the Cat is simple. The Cat eats when its hungry. The Cat plays when it feels like it. The Cat sleeps when it's tired. The Cat will - on ocassion - honor you with its presence. Should you seek to impose your version of How Things Should Be on The Cat, or otherwise interfere with The Way, you will suffer the consequences.
The Way of the Cat is not ours to question. For instance, if you come home to find two beheaded parakeets buried in the litter box, and are in shock because for two years The Cat never gave them a passing glance, it's best not ask, "Why?" for the Way of the Cat surpasses all understanding. We are no more supposed to understand the slaughter of parakeets than we were to question great House Mouse Massacre of 1998, when Jingles caught mouse after mouse and stole away with them into the bathroom, where she did such Unspeakable Things to her captives, that today we still ocassionaly refer to that room as "Mousewitz" and her as "Dr. Jingela"
But such blood sacrifices are to be accepted in exchange for what The Cat bestows. Jingles is like having two cats in one. Yes, she has her dark side, but she also has her warm and wonderful alter-ego. Jingles is photogenic, and highly entertaining. This past Halloween she was a vampire, with Frodo playing the part of the hapless victim.
She's great with children and has yet to suck the breath out of an infant, although I can't say for sure the thought didn't cross her mind when their crying woke her up.
She's fond of sleeping our laps or our bed pillows or tucked against the small of our backs, which is heaven for someone who likes that sort of thing. We term this special closeness a "cat moment."
John, who is autistic, loves Jingles and would probably marry her if such unions were legal. So smitten is he, and such a follower of the Way of the Cat that sometimes, when I say, "I love you, John," he looks at me, smiles broadly and responds, "I love you, Jingles."
Not everyone likes or appreciates cats, but not everyone is worthy, or ready to comprehend The Way of the Cat. But take heed, - when you are, The Cat will find you and - beheaded parakeets aside - bestow upon you great joy, when it feels like it.
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