“Elvis! Elvis!” I was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of my house on N. 79th street, hoping that Elvis the cat would reappear and I could lure him back into the house. Of course, I was in tie dye, and it occurred to me that someone might be calling 911 about the crazy old lady having Elvis sightings on N. 79th, but I had to be sure he came back. I owed it to John.
My friend John was off to bicycle Baja California, and he had asked me to watch over his cat, Elvis. Elvis was a beautiful Himalayan Persian, and I felt honored to be entrusted with his care. But even though I thought I had the house escape-proof, Elvis, being a cat, had slipped by me that morning and, fearful that he would try to return to his “real” home, I was out scouring the neighborhood.
Suffice it to say, Elvis returned home – to my home – all on his own, and in due course John returned and reclaimed him. A year or so later, Elvis was back. John’s job – selling shoes for Nordstroms – had transferred him to their outlet on Guam (who knew?), and John didn’t think the tropics would suit a Himalayan cat. John was gone for a couple of years this time and yet, when he was transferred back, I fully expected him to pick up Elvis and resume life as before. Nordstrom, however, had other plans, and John was off again, this time to Denver and, not wanting to uproot Elvis once again, he asked me if I wanted to keep him. And that’s how I became Barbara and the Pussycats. Because Elvis made five.
Razz was the first of the five cats that eventually came to live at the 79th Street house. Two, three and four were Mamacita and two of her kittens, about whom more later. Someone once told me that cats scratch a sign on the back door of certain houses that reads, to passing cats, Sucker lives here. I was okay with that.
Elvis was a very kind, soft-spoken cat. He didn’t meow. He mewed. Quietly. Sweetly.
In good weather, my back door always stood open and my cats (and the occasional racoon or opossum – but those are other stories) wandered in and out at will. But when the chilly winds blew and the cold rain came, that door would be closed and I would have to let them in and out. My back porch was semi-enclosed, so they were still sheltered when I didn’t hear them, but there were times when Elvis would come into my office and mew, head for the door, turn back, mew – oh, he wants to go out, I would think – so I would get up and go open the back door. And who would I find there but Razz, Mamacita, Yoda or Simba, or a combination thereof, and when they were safely inside, Elvis would turn around and go back to his spot of the day. He had simply come to tell me to let the other cats in out of the rain. Elvis was that kind of cat.
Elvis was also a matty cat. His long, fine coat regularly formed mats on his belly and under his “arm pits.” Picture yourself with long arm pit hair tangled so much you can’t lift your arms. Ouch, huh? After trying and failing to cut them out, I finally called in a professional cat lady who would arrive with electric shavers and a loving way with cats, and between us we would “poodle” him. I like to think he was grateful, but then I like to think a lot of things.
For instance, I like to think that Elvis is still out there somewhere. You see, unlike most of the others, he wasn’t with us at the end. He had moved two houses down when I wasn’t looking. He still showed up at my house, however, so I wasn’t aware that he had adopted a new family until I went looking for him to take him to the vet. My computer had just told me it was time to renew his shots. I finally spotted him in my neighbor’s yard and went to fetch him. It was then that I learned that they thought he was their cat. He had turned up there a few weeks previously and, thinking he was a stray, they had adopted him. And had already taken him for his shots. Well, blow my buttons!
It made me sad to give him up, but I did. For one thing, this couple was elderly and were obviously very fond of Elvis. They called him something else, but I don’t remember what. For another thing, Elvis would be their only child, not one of a passle. And I wouldn’t have to pay for his shots, flea and tick prevention, or even food. In fact, since he was just two doors away and could always come for visits (as he obviously had been doing ever since they took him in), it wasn’t like giving him up at all. And if he outlived the elderly couple, he could also just come home. Win, win, win.
And then a couple of years later, we moved away.
I never knew what finally became of Elvis. But he will always remain as one of Barbara and the Pussycats. A very cool cat, the very kindest of cats indeed.