Back in December I told you about my good feline buddy Belinski. After he passed away at the ripe old age of 88 I decided to adopt another rescue kitty. My vet’s office was just one block away, so that seemed the logical place to start. None of the unfortunate adult cats available for adoption grabbed my heart until they brought out this GINORMUS grey tabby, who was approximately one year old. He was a real distinguished gentleman, very Cary Grant.
If puddy cats had their own cinema, he would have been Bond, James Bond. He had white boots and chest, so he always seemed to be formally dressed in a tuxedo. He was unique and therefore needed a singular name to match.
I was a huge fan of Saturday Night Live in the early and middle years and had just seen a skit the previous week called Sniglets. This particular Sniglet was on the word CRIGGLIES. THE CRIGGLIES are that time when you find yourself out in public, say in line at the bank or post office or waiting for communion, and you realize your underwear is creeping north and you simply, absolutely have to get those suckers back where they belong pronto. This situation couldn’t wait until you got home or were in private, hell no, it needed immediate attention. Being a well-brought-up lady or gent, raised right to make your mama and daddy proud, you couldn’t suddenly just reach back and give those panties a good tug to restore your well being, therefore you had no choice but to resort to doing THE CRIGGLIES. You’ve seen people doing THE CRIGGLES before… I know you have! That subtle shift from one leg to another, trying to dislodge those little butt grabbers. A slight and subtle hip twitch, a delicate sway to the right, then a nudge to the left. A really popular CRIGGLIE is when you see someone slide their hands down their lower back, looking for all the world like they are trying to get relief from sore and achy muscles, but no no no, they are really trying to get those imbedded britches out of that hiney. So, for no other reason than the sound of it amused me, I dubbed my dapper new friend Criggly.
Like people, our animal buddies always seem to have some personality traits or quirks that will make you remember them long after they’re gone. In Criggly’s case, it was his propensity to perch on his hind legs with his forepaws daintily crossed in front of his chest.
The boy would hold that pose for hours while sitting on the back seat of the car heading out to the cottage on Long Island, or lounging in the apartment windows. He would delight children in neighboring cars stuck in the endless traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Unfortunately, the other thing I remember most about Criggly wasn’t as amusing. Since we left Manhattan for Long Island every Thursday evening and didn’t return until early Monday mornings, we always took kitty cat with us. It was on the first car trip we realized that the excitement the ride caused him also gave him massive diarrhea. Yep, every single ride, going out and coming back, a generous serving of POOP SOUP! There was no joy quite as great as knowing that when you arrived at your retreat after being held captive in traffic for 3-4 hours you would have to spend at least 30 minutes cleaning cat poop soup out of the car. Yep, the good ol days, for sure!
Sadly, my darling boy’s toe tag would have him with me less than two years. One day I was walking on Lexington Avenue approaching my apartment building when I noticed two foreign tourists carrying an absolutely beautiful cat in their arms; I thought “Man, that is one very relaxed dude, to be able to sleep in the middle of midtown rush hour traffic!” I noted his strong resemblance to Criggly, but then most grey tabbies look alike, right? It wasn’t until I got into my penthouse apartment, complete with terraced gardens on every side, that I had my first sense of foreboding when Criggly didn’t come when I called him. He was a very dog-like boy and always came when called. I remembered the scene I had just witnessed on the street a few moments earlier and began to feel sick to my stomach. It couldn’t possibly be? With panic growing on my ride down the elevator, I realized that the tourists had seemed to be heading toward my vet’s office, and rushed straight over there.
There he was; it was so hard to believe he was dead, because he looked so peaceful, and not broken or harmed in any way. The tourists recounted they were looking up at my building planning to snap some pictures of the cascading greenery spilling down the walls, when suddenly, out of nowhere, they see a cat take a flying leap off a terrace ledge, trying to catch a bird that just happened to drift by. Apparently he died on impact 13 floors below. My vet said this was called High Rise Syndrome and was the most common cause of death in NYC cats. My devastation was so vast it would be years before I could adopt another boy and risk another such loss.
This puppy Baxter (the Booger) is going to make me seek either a mental health professional or a priest STAT. He is truly too, too smart. Of course, you expect puppies to eat everything in sight and we do prep his area accordingly, but here’s where he is especially wily. He will act like he’s a six-year-old dog for days at a time, and of course, that wrinkled, worried face multiples his look of maturity and authority. At this point you are sucked into believing he won’t do anything bad.
It ‘s always these moments when your guard is down that he gets you, quick as a mouse trap slamming shut. So far he was eaten the spines off about 20 of my cookbooks, hidden his battery-operated behavior correction device, dug the soil and Spanish moss out of all the houseplants, while simultaneously pruning said houseplants, and destroyed two pairs of The Spousal Unit’s prescription glasses, both fairly new, I might add. He makes a game out of tearing off the covers of any and all magazines, and then eating them until all the evidence is destroyed. He’s dug so many holes in the backyard that it resembles the gopher scene in Caddyshack. He launched his muscular body out a bedroom window screen the other day when I was trying to give Pooter some quality alone time in the yard with mommy, in order to join us in our fun. This week he chewed out the entire screen of a double sliding door. And, like all smashed-face doggies, he can snore and fart like a Sumo wrestler! Sometimes at night I can’t tell whether the snoring is coming from Booger or The Spousal Unit! Since he is only 5 ½ months old and 47 pounds. I’ve ordered gas masks off the internet for me, The Unit, The Teenage Morose One, and Pooter in preparation for the adult-size gas bombs he’ll undoubtedly toss as he grows!
On that note I think I’m off to book his puppy obedience classes and pour myself a nice, chilled Ketel One martini, and reminisce about the days when my worst pet problem was cleaning up the poop soup of one Bond, James Bond.