Sunday, December 4, 2011

My father and I married people allergic to cats, but...

we did have the good fortune of having cats in the family prior to those marriages.  So what made me think of this?  I saw a Siamese cat, a beautiful brown point, sitting on a porch as my husband and I were driving home today from the store.  And I just starting thinking about my dad's Siamese cats, Ming and Ling. (There was also a parakeet whose name I cannot remember and a chihuahua named Pepe, but they have their own stories which I will leave for another time.)

They joined my dad's family before I was born, but not too much before as we still had them when I was five, and they were pretty feisty then.  My father told me those cats were fearless and intelligent.  He said there was a full-size standard poodle who lived on the block, and it would walk past the house and menace Ming and Ling, even chase them if he thought he could get away with it.

Well, one day my dad was at home -- must have been a weekend.  He noticed the two cats were hanging out in the front yard, but not just relaxing. One was in a small palm tree on the grassed area between the sidewalk and the road.  The other, we'll say it was Ling, the male of the pair, was down below walking about the spiky trunk.  It was a fairly young palm tree, as I remember I used to hang my baby doll's blanket like a hammock from the points of the sharp-edged trunk and place my doll inside for a nap while the slender swishing leaves dangled down about me, and that was after the cats had decided to live out on their own.

So he had noted their slightly odd behavior but had not thought much about it.  When he looked out front an hour later, they were still there, Ming mounted in the palm leaves above and Ling below tirelessly traipsing around the tree. My dad was about to turn back to whatever he was doing, when he saw the black poodle walking down the sidewalk.  He saw Ling still stepping around the tree casual as you please.  My father expected the cats to start spitting or run for the house.  But they did neither.  Ling sat down looking at the dog still a good fifty feet away.  That should have rang bells for the canine, but he planted himself firmly on four feet and then tore down the walk straight for Ling.  My dad regretted in that moment having had the cats declawed in front.  He'd wanted them to have some degree of protection, but he didn't have much faith in the fact that they still had their rear claws.  Just as this poodle pounced on Ling, Ming leaped from her perch above on to his back, plunging all her rear claws into his back while wrapping her front legs around his neck and biting him wherever she could reach.  Ling in turn had twisted onto his own back, pressed his front paws into the ground beneath him and leveraged his rear legs up scratching at the dog's face.  The battle lasted seconds before the dog took off making the usual frightened dog wails.  And the cats?  They just strolled back to the house.  My dad was certain it was a planned ambush.

This was my father's story as all I remember of  Ming and Ling is that they left one day.  My father said they went off for adventures.  I recall walking around the house calling their names, hoping every day they would come back.  They returned once, weeks later, looking healthy and happy and then left again presumably off for further adventures.

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