Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stevie and Joey: A Tale of two kitties

When my old mother cat Camillia, daughter of Emily the original mother cat, gave birth to what would be two of her very last four kittens, I named them "Stevie" and "Joey." One, Stevie, was very sociable and the other, Joey, very independent. At first they were friends and played together as kittens will, but when they turned adolescent their fights became more and more intense. Joey would disappear for days; Stevie took over the yard. Then we had to go to Milwaukee and live with my daughter and son-in-law, which required neutering everybody. Stevie was around, Joey wasn't, so Stevie got neutered and Joey didn't. Joey never did turn up for our departure--he'd been gone for a week when we left for Milwaukee. I thought we would never see him again.

Over the next five months Stevie became an indoor cat. He lived in a house full of other dogs and cats and lost his shyness of strangers and became fully domesticated. When we returned March 30th, the snow still on the ground, there was Joey waiting for us! He had grown into an enormous, muscle-bound tomcat with a big head and a slowly swishing tail and yellow eyes that watched us all from a distance, ready to dart for cover. He must have lived in the empty house's cellar all winter. He looked very healthy and fit. I will not mention details of the ensuing encounters between the two brother cats and former litter-mates, only conclude Stevie became terrified of Joey, who was twice his size, and would go to any extent to avoid him, and Joey would go near nobody but me and Cheena, his dearly beloved and well remembered surrogate mother. Camillia eyed Stevie and Joey equally with the same cool eye of the eminently ordained matriarch and treated them both the same, with tolerant disdain. Cheena loved them both, but especially Joey.

Joey prowls around and lets me feed him now. He comes in through my window in the wee hours of the morning and eats the cat food I have there for him. He appears to be leading a very successful life (one can only imagine)for miles around, for he disappears for days at a time. I do celebrate his life. As for Stevie, he has the house and garden but he is always on the watch for his bigger, more muscly, more natural brother, and is cautious about where he goes at all times.

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