Saturday, June 26, 2010

Absolute Pandemonium

June's Cat of the Month is a particular treat. It's time for The Best Cat of All Time! I've been thinking all month of writing about my favorite cat, of getting his book out of the cabinet and taking pictures of it (if not actually going through my printed photo archives to scan them) to show that I really did write the biography of my cat. But life intervened, as it usually does, and I never did get around to all that.
The first of the French cats, Pandemonium arrived one day in my studio apartment in a small cardboard box, delivered by a scratched and bleeding (slightly) friend, fresh from that friend's grandmother's barn.
One of the first things he did was discover the box of cat litter in the bathroom. He had no problem with the litterbox, that's not what I mean. The litter I bought at the store came in a box, with a handy pour-spout that sometimes ripped off when you struggled to get it open for the first time. Well, Pan discovered this box. With a hole in it. So he stuck his paw in, and discovered catsand, which he then proceeded to empty from the box. That must have been hours of fun.
Then he fell down the lightwell between my building and the next. We lived on the second floor (third by American counting), and there was no exit from the bottom of the 5 x 7 foot shaft except through the bookstore on the ground floor. And since it was Sunday, poor little Pan had to stay there, in the rain, until Monday morning. He wasn't hurt.

The apartment was a bit small for Pandemonium, whom I would find at the top of the curtains, or trip over as he tore after phantoms from one end of our living quarters to the other, so we moved to a larger place after a year. I found us a nice, ground-level apartment with a tiny garden. He'd never been Out, and was really interested in what Out was all about. The very first time I opened the sliding glass door to the garden, he was out like a shot. He looked back once and I didn't see him again for four days. I spent hours walking around, up and down the streets, poking around into neighbors yards, calling. No Pan. Then one night, about four in the morning, a faint, plaintive meowing: Pan was back!
He was back. Scrawny and dirty and scratched and contrite, he was back. First thing: purr up a storm. Second thing: EAT.

After that, Pan was allowed out in the yard on a leash, which he took to very well and patiently, until the day a really tempting bird flew close. Pan was up in a tree after it as if he'd never had a leash at all. The metal attachment to his collar had simply given way.

After that, Pan was allowed out in the yard on a small harness, which he took to very well and patiently, until the day I went inside to refill my iced tea, leaving the lead attached to my chair. When I closed the refridgerator door, there he was, no harness in sight. Cats are far too flexible to be retained by a dog harness, no matter how small a dog it's made for.
After that I just had to trust him.

A perfect gentleman, Pandemonium was very happy to have visitors, both people and cats. Even if they stayed for a while. We hosted Fofa and Kika for five months and when they left to rejoin their family in Cambridge I realized that that's what Pan really needed: Company. He was a cat overflowing with energy, and very intelligent, and while I played with him whenever I was home, I spent a lot of each day at work and he just got bored. He knew all about door handles, too, and if he was looking for something to do, a door had better be locked. Once we got Yersinia he was happier and didn't get into stuff as much, or chew on books, or tear up the carpet.


shabby girl said...

You took to being a kitty mamma well and patiently...
This cracked me up!!!

Argent said...

Pan sounds like a delightful cat. You were sensitive to his needs and got him some company. Would have loved a piccie.