Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cat of the Month. Number Three: Errnestine

Errnestine (yes, with two r’s, let’s lean into that Errrrrrrr) was one of the best. On the football team of cats she gets her number retired.
The replacements to Mitten & Brand X were Errnestine and Rhubarb. American shorthair tabbies. Ernie was about 1/3 black spots on a white body. Stubby and solid, she stood up to all that three kids and a dog could dish out. She’d wrestle. She’d chase strings. She’d let you dress her up in dolls’ clothes.
Ernie was also my first writing project: the fifth grade Errnestine Files, which recounted all the notable doings of the favorite cat. Like when she was a kitten and my dad had this huge handlebar moustache, and she would get up onto his chest while he was sleeping and play with it like it was a mouse or something. How’s that for a wakeup.
Or the time she was hiding out between the fences that separated our yard from the neighbor’s and I was walking the dog in the Little League baseball fields behind our house. I had the dog off the leash (as usual if I was taking my time), and he flushed a jackrabbit out of its hiding place. Bassets are made to hunt rabbits! Such fun! The rabbit headed right for the gap between the fences, a dog-safe space about five inches wide. Right into the cat. So it was that Errnestine caught a rabbit nearly as large as herself. She ate it, too. Well, about half. I had to bury the rest.
And the time that the neighbor’s malamute caught her. Blackie and I were out back on a walk, and the other dog had escaped from its yard. The two dogs didn’t really get along so I quickly got the leash back on mine to head home. Blackie didn’t usually go after Knute, but Knute somehow surprised Errnestine, and Blackie was off like a shot. The cat escaped in the ensuing fight, and the huge ruff of loose skin around my basset’s neck served its purpose keeping him from injury. We didn’t find the cat for three days. She holed up somewhere secret to nurse her wounds, and by the time we got her to the vet there wasn’t much more to do. Knute had bitten her through the thigh, which afterwards always bothered her in bad weather.
Ernie takes the record for the cat I had the longest. With our house on the edge of coyote territory, and several years where it was rumored that pet cats were being rounded up for medical research, most cats didn’t last long. She was only caught that once, and survived, succumbing to an infection at the age of 10.


Brandon Barr said...

Just found your blog and loved the title :)
So you are a biologist?? How cool is that! What line of biology are you working in?? What kind of projects??

sciencegirl said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by.
Yeah, biology is pretty cool. So much to know and discover! My particular field is cancer genetics, working mostly on genes that contribute to inherited cancer risk.

Marie said...

I have fond memories of Errnestine. She was a great cat!