Looking at my raggedy pile of 18-year-old mangy fur, it’s hard to remember the fearless, bursting-with-life puddy cat she used to be.

The night Paco and I brought the adorable 6-week-old tortie foundling home and she bolted from her carrier straight up the stairs to our bedrooms, I warned my 4-year-old boy that she would likely secret herself under a bed for a week or three. In my motherly wisdom I gently told him she would be quite scared and shy, and to not be disappointed when she wouldn’t play with him right away.

Forewarned, the two of us quietly crept up the stairs to see what bed she might be hiding under. What a sight! There was Nico, our tiny kitten, leaping onto Paco’s bed, then catapulting herself onto the top of a 3-story toy parking garage. She would slide down the twists and turns and land on her bum with Chinese eyes pulled tight into slits of delight. Repeat until exhausted.

In a side note…only Paco’s Dad  would possess the flair to name a 2 lb. kitten after Andy Warhol’s beautiful blond 1960’s protégé Nico.

Nico’s decline into depression began with the arrival of her baby brother, Baxter the Boxer. In fairness, I suppose having a huge puppy mistake me for a chew toy thirty times a day would take its toll on my nerves too. 027The situation worsened when he began to pick her up by the scruff of her neck and carry her from place to place. It was in this era that she began writing me suicide notes…

Dearest mamaa,

Sory about steeling yur debit card, had 2 get to a bar 2 by sum Pussytinis 2 get up the courage to off miself, that’s rite, im a go swim wid da fishes. Cain’t take it no more, no how. Eye will c u in heavn.  Luv yur puddy cat

Then one day, Bitter Bette’s dreams finally materialized…that sh*t heel boxer brother of hers had a new mistress and was going to live far, far away, due to Mommy’s new nomadic gypsy life! The skies parted and angels sang a HALLELUJAH chorus. Her joy lasted only one day, until Mommy moved her raggedy butt to a 3rd floor apartment in a noisy city. The suicide notes resumed post haste. Then, those plane rides to and from Texas exacerbated her mental unhinging. Or maybe it was those longhorn steers, the rearing horses at the ranch, or the wee incident with that F4 tornado?

I’ve gone to court & officially changed her name to Bitter Bette, after the characters Bette Davis played in those terrifying B movies, like “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte”. The one where the bracelets clang and dangle menacingly while she reaches for the axe to whack off her philandering finance’s head, in a well-played act of revenge against his wandering willy. Ah yes, good times those.

My Bette’s eyes are perpetually slitted against life’s next outrage. She alternates between hours of catawauling punctuated by brief moments of narcolepsy. Her newest fetish is to chew obsessively on her right leg, which is currently quite bald.

Now before you PETA peeps go getting all up in arms, “What if the poor kitty has an undiagnosed illness or some rare ebola-like, usually fatal leg-chewing disease?” Let me assure you that I just spent $600 last month on a “Senior Panel” of tests at her vet’s, where they assured me my girl has the vitality and physiology of a five-year-old. She assured me that Bette will live to AT LEAST the ripe old age of 22…giving me another six years of recriminations to look forward to.

Between jobs at two dental practices, and dining, dancing, and dating my way through Paradise, Somewhere in This World, it’s difficult to find the time to indulge Bitter Bette in her dotage. Perhaps it may just be time to shove a broom handle up her butt and call it a day?



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