Hello, Kitty!

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I have always liked black cats. They are like a big ball of dark yarn. tangledpasta.net
I have always liked black cats. They are like a big ball of dark yarn.

Several weeks ago, my daughter forwarded me an e-flyer from our local Humane Society. The erstwhile animal shelter was holding a one-day cat adoption from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Since over 120+ cats were overflowing the facility, with another 300+ awaiting space in the new building, the 120+ strong could be adopted with the usual fees waivered, and taken home the same day if the application passed muster. If a person did not bring a cat carrier to the Humane Society, a cat transport could be purchased on site. If one adopts a cat or dog from the Humane Society, one must sign off that the animal will be taken to a veterinarian within seven days of the adoption. This equates to paying the veterinarian, and paying for any subsequent whatever the “vet” may find, for example, gingivitis, fleas, a heart condition, or nothing.

I admit that I miss my thirteen-year-old Maine Coon cat, Fellini. He was euthanized at a reputable animal clinic in May 2015 due to an aneurysm that had left his hind feet and lower extremities paralyzed. He was my feline writing muse and I loved him dearly. At age three, I selected my first kitten from my Uncle Ed’s. His cat had given birth to a litter of three kittens. My parents thought it would be fine for me to have a pet. My mother was cat fancier, and she had converted my father into a fondness for felines. I have had one to two cats ever since. For people who have never known the joys of a pet, and who constantly say, “I don’t like animals,” I say, those individuals are missing out on some of Nature’s greatest happiness. Studies have now shown that a pet cat or dog comforts college students suffering from anxiety and stress, soothes assisted living and nursing home residents, and provide companionship for the elderly and the not so elderly. At the end of my workday, no matter how good or dismal it has been, my pet cat has been there to greet me, exuding cat happiness by purring.

This fellow is worn out after a vigorous game of plush stick toy! - tangledpasta.net
This fellow is worn out after a vigorous game of plush stick toy! – tangledpasta.net

Not expecting to find another Fellini, for he was unique unto himself, off I trekked that sunny Saturday afternoon with a friend to look over the feline landscape at the Humane Society. I didn’t even take a cat carrier with me because I felt ambivalent about encountering a cat. After all, Coco Chanel is now our solo house cat in residence. I had decided to go to the cat event because the suspicion that a large number of “leftover” cats might be euthanized to make way for those on the cat waitlist. If a cat happened to connect with me, then I could fulfill my humanitarian role of saving a rescue cat. If not, I would make a nice donation to the shelter. As it happened, I donated a large, unopened bag of Iams Senior Cat Food that day since Fellini never had a chance to eat it.

Suffice to say, the newly christened Valentino chose me. He is a most happy addition to our family. I highly recommend adopting a rescue cat or dog.

Ciao for now.

The New Kid on the Block

Meet Shelton Rae - tangledpasta.net
Meet Shelton Rae – tangledpasta.net


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.

Water faucet stand off - tangled pasta.net
A blurry water faucet stand-off – tangled pasta.net

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.

Shelton and Fellini, a wary window truce - tangledpasta.net
Shelton and Fellini, a wary window truce – tangledpasta.net

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.


Remembering Sparkle, Part I


Sparkle the cat – tangledpasta.net

The summer Anjelica turned six, she informed me she wanted a cat of her own.

“But we have Lulu, our Houston cat,” I protested.

“No, Mama.  Lulu was your Houston cat before I was born.  I want a cat all my own.”

I sighed.  “Let’s look for cats to adopt,” I suggested.

“I drawed a picture of the cat I want,” announced Anjelica.

She handed me a drawing of a predominantly white cat with gold ears, a gold tail, and several gold spots on its body.

“Sweetheart, it will be hard to find a cat that looks exactly like the one in your lovely picture.”

“Let’s start looking, Mama!”

I felt this was a doomed search from the get go.  The odds of finding a cat with such particular coloring specifications seemed like searching for a needle in a haystack.

We went to the local Pet Refuge and Animal Control.  In the meantime, I queried colleagues and friends.  There were a plethora of black cats, gray cats, tortoise-shell cats, and variations thereof, but no cat remotely resembled the one of Anjelica’s dreams.

Finally, one Saturday morning, we drove to the county Humane Society.  Rows and rows of black, gray, black and white, gray and white, tortoise-shell, and calico cats greeted us with meows both sweet and frantic.  On a ledge in a huge cat cage, was a heap of kittens, stacked on top of one another snoozing the sultry summer day away.  From the bottom of the kitten pile, a gold-ringed tale lay draped over the edge of the ledge.  Upon closer inspection, Anjelica noticed a white foot.

Sparkle the cat – tangledpasta.net

“Mama!  Mama!  My cat! My cat!  She’s there!” Anjelica almost pulled the tall cage door open herself before the volunteer reached for it.

Gently, the volunteer moved each kitten until she reached for the gold-ringed tale, white-footed cat.  She placed the kitten in Anjelica’s waiting arms.  The kitten deigned to open its green eyes for a moment, then fell back asleep purring.

“See her gold spots, Mama?  See her gold ears?  Her white paws?  She waited for me.”  Anjelica paused, peering at the kittens pink triangle nose.  “Her name is Sparkle.”

“Welcome to the family, Sparkle.”

Ciao for now.