About a year ago I had houseguests: a young spotty yellow and white dog named Dexter (he matched Roo quite well, actually), and an elderly blue-point Siamese cat named Lacey. They belonged to my friend Roz, whose husband is in the Army, he had gotten transferred from Hawaii to the mainland and Dexter and Lacey needed a place to stay while their people found pet-friendly housing. Roz looked high and low but couldn’t find a place to board them that didn’t look shady, so I said “Send ’em here. I have room.”
And lo, one fine June day I went to Reagan National Airport and took delivery of one spotty dog and one Siamese cat.
Lacey talked to me, all the way home, where I installed her in my bedroom. Largely indifferent to dogs, she regarded other cats as a scourge upon the face of the earth and thus required private quarters. She might have been forgiven, after being flown across half the Pacific Ocean and an entire continent before being dropped into a house full of strangers, if she had been cranky or lapsed a little in her litter box habits. She did no such thing, instead she was never less than a lady and a queen. She was on an impressive daily regimen of pills to control Irritable Bowel Disorder, but bore the daily pilling and squirting of liquids down her throat with grace, if not graciousness. Never once did she offer to do me violence, although she was a mistress of the wounded look that makes a cat-keeper quiver with guilt and remorse.
Nevertheless, we made our way. She wanted to explore the house, but only if someone would carry her, safe above the riffraff other cats down below. Lacey was a sweet and companionable kitty, settling in to sleep at night with no drama, sitting in my lap while I read (holding my book with one hand and petting her with the other). Eventually she began to spend time with Aida, my Siamese, who would sneak into the bedroom and then sit and ignore Lacey while Lacey sat and ignored her. They would sit and ignore each other for five or ten minutes, then Aida would leave. Lacey occasionally played with the knotted-up shoestring R had sent with her, but most of all next to being worshiped she loved to sit in the sunbeam that falls on the cat perch in my bedroom. Catnip made her even more talkative and goofy:
A blue-point Siamese crouches on a tan blanket which is covering a windowsill seat for cats. Sprinkled in front of her is a little dried catnip.
Lacey: Your offering pleases me, minion, but not a whole lot.
Me: Am I trying to get you stoned?
Lacey (Sniffing catnip): Yes. But it’s not working.
Me: Oh no!
Lacey (sniffing catnip some more): We grow way better catnip than this in Hawaii.
Me: Oh no!
Lacey (attempting to bury catnip): Really, this is terrible. The catnip in Hawaii is much better than this. I don’t know why you’re offering me substandard catnip.
Me: You get that catnip.
Lacey (still trying to bury it, then turning to jump on the bed): I do not want to get the catnip. In fact, I am going to flee this terrible catnip.
Me: What’s going on?
Lacey: I’m moving to the bed to get away from the terrible catnip!
Lacey: You make it really difficult to have an intelligent conversation, you know.
Me: Is there anything else you want to tell Roz?
Lacey: Yes. Next time, she should send me to someone who can hold a decent conversation.
Me: Is there any–
Lacey: I do like you though. Because you pet me.
Me: Hi, I love you too.
Lacey: I like you so much, I will let you smell my butt.
Me: Cat butt!
Lacey: Well it’s not like it would be *dog* butt, really.
Me: What else would you like to say to Roz?
Lacey: This house has too many cats in it. Tell her I said not to make me stay with a bunch of cats next time. Also, I love you, minion.
Me: Well, I’ll-ok. Hi!
Lacey (purring): You are sort of fun. And also I am hungry.
Me: How bout I go get dinner? Would that be good?
Lacey: The thought of dinner pleases me, minion.
Roz and her husband eventually found housing that accepted pets, and came and collected their fuzzy crew. Lacey and Dex both were delighted to see them. The Manor house felt a little emptier for weeks afterward, but I kept telling myself I would find the time to go out and visit.
Lacey passed on yesterday, loved and adored til the last. Godspeed, sweet girl, I know you have gone to wherever it is that good cats go when they leave us. I know that there are sunbeams, and no other cats, and that finally you are no longer ill. Your friends here at the Manor still miss you.