By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
This summer we had a most charming guest. His striking color, light green eyes, and friendly demeanor won us over. Most importantly, he connected from the outset with my daughter Anjelica. She had sought a feline who relished being held, one who was older, yet playful. She searched the local Humane Society and other independently operated shelters. Within two months, she found a perfect match.
Anjelica named him Shelton Rae. One of our favorite books is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt [We also like the Clint Eastwood film version of the story]. Savannah, Georgia, the setting of the novel, is one of our favorite places on the planet. “Shelton” happens to be the name of Jim Williams’ cat in the Southern Gothic tale. Shelton’s middle name “Rae” invokes the gentle rhythm of a gentle Southern lilt when intoned: Shelton Rae.
Our veterinarian informed her that this longhaired, two-and-a-half-year-old ball of orangeness has a double-coat of fur. Even the white pom-pom of fur on the tip of his tail is thick and fluffy. His luxurious coat of dark orange necessitated the purchase of a particular kind of comb to fluff him up, thus avoiding tangles. Shelton demonstrated he his affinity for being coiffed by purring loudly.
The only two in our household he failed to entirely win over this summer were Fellini and Coco Chanel. Fellini has reigned as Lord of the Manor for 11 years; and his triangle-shaped nose was out of joint at the inclusion of this orange upstart in his family circle. Coco Chanel growled and spent a fair amount of time hissing at Shelton’s playful overtures. What she could not abide was Shelton’s affinity for bathroom faucet water. The bathroom faucet was her domain. Each time I set foot in the bathroom, she and Shelton queued up to imbibe. It made washing my face and brushing my teeth acrobatic feats. After two weeks of circling Shelton Rae like a chuck wagon, a sort of feline détente had been achieved. He and Coco Chanel romped throughout the house, chasing one another up and down the stairs. Shelton and Fellini engaged in a cat version of Greco-Roman wrestling. Three furry faces greeted me each morning in the kitchen for their Fancy Feast breakfast. A kind of cat peace reigned with three different decibel levels of purring.
Finally, Anjelica placed Shelton in his soft-sided, polar-fleece lined carrier, and moved him, herself, and her Beta fish Poseidon to her new town. The three of them drove off to Law School. It is to Shelton’s credit that never once did he draw his claws, except for a pawdicure on his 16-pound scratching post. As a houseguest, Shelton Rae embodied the finest of Southern gentleman-like cat behavior.
Ciao for now.