Friday, April 07, 2006

who’s the most cutest kitty-witty in the world? #5

Looking in Basil’s close-set green eyes, I see a royal past. He has a born-in-Egypt, educated-in- Britain look about him. Plus his Petfinder profile lists him as a purebred Ocicat.

But as readers of fairytales know, a noble birth is no guarantee that you won’t end up an angsty scullery maid in some jerk’s castle due to a cruel twist of fate. In Basil’s case, I believe that he and his mother Jasmine, a spotted redhead Ocicat with an equally narrow, regal head, fled from her abusive tomcat of a husband, leaving their Lear Jet lifestyle for the crowded, laundry-basket-as-bed ghetto that is Friends of Animals. (And, to their credit, it’s a pretty nice ghetto—but when you’re used to the Four Seasons, it’s hard to appreciate the clean utilitarianism of Motel 6.)

Being the well bred cats that they are, though, Basil and Jasmine have brought a sort of “Well then, let’s paint our little flat in the projects a lovely shade of yellow, shall we?” attitude to their new life. They’re old money and as such they don’t need money to convince them of their worth, and they don’t need to go around acting better than everyone. They’re better than that.

But sometimes Basil’s roots show on the playground. Wednesday night, two of the toughest cats on the block, Romeo and Tarzan, were out. Like ex-cons who can’t get jobs, both are high-energy cats whose cooped-up, aimless situation makes them more likely to re-offend. The other volunteers and I instituted a sort of job corps in the form of waving a long plastic stick with a feather on the end.

Both blossomed in its presence. Romeo leapt three feet in the air, twisting his tabby body gleefully, even though the stitches from his last fight are still healing. Tarzan, when it was his turn, plotted and pounced.

Basil took all of this in and seemed to think, “Jolly good—it’s high time we start up a nice game of polo. I’ll go get my stick.”

“No, Basil, stay away,” said Amy, seeing Basil’s excitement. “It’s for your own good.”

Basil usually keeps to the back of the cattery, happy to chase balls down the short aisle that runs from his cage to the storage closet. This game of stick-and-feather took place at the front of the cattery, and Basil was breathless with the exhilaration of The Big Game. It didn’t occur to him that the other players might not be such gentlemen, and as he focused intently on the figure-eighting feather, Romeo and Tarzan took turns pummeling him.

He took it all in stride though, having been raised to take the high road. The more traumatic events of his life took place long after a basic belief that of course things would turn out okay took hold. The sweet optimism of privilege. So even as the street-fighters’ claws dug into his shoulder blades, he was able to say, “Right then, so we’ll play again Monday, shall we? Cheerio.”

7 comments:

Tracy Lynn said...

Dude, if I were ANY closer to you than I am right now, that cat would be at my house RIGHT THIS MINUTE. With fish flakes. He is so beautiful. *sigh*

Chelle said...

Ah poor Basil.... :(

Schrodinger's Kitten said...

Ok...I'm like 5 minutes from Cheryl, and I'm seriously thinking about calling her to get this kitty.

I'm a sucker for cats with foppish british accents.

Cheryl said...

Yeah, Basil would love hangin' with Chaucer and Schro! They're way more civilized than the (loveable) bad-asses at the shelter. Especially with their little top hats and bowties.

Schrodinger's Kitten said...

I'm teaching them latin.

Nance said...

Basil would definitely appreciate the company of Emily and Travis. Esp. since he and Travis could be separated-at-birth twins (but only in appearance, since Trav is more the Chicago type guy).

Cheryl said...

Travis could introduce Basil to deep-dish pizza, and Basil could introduce Trav to caviar. They'd have a great time.