Puddy

 

Anyone who didn’t know her will see a cat in these pictures. For me, she was a kindred spirit. I don’t know that I can state with enough clarity how substantial this beautiful cat’s contribution would turn out to be in terms of enrichment of life for me and my family. Puddy was the perfect pet. Healthy, clean, and fairly self-sustainable, the ease and quality of our relationship with Puddy emboldened us to pursue Gale's lifelong dream of owning a horse farm. We are living our dreams now, and we have Puddy to thank for it.

I’ve put together this small tribute to Puddy outlining what she was for us, but I’m afraid that words are wanting in this case. The photos are wonderful, but they don’t do her justice. She was far more beautiful than could ever be expressed in two dimensions. Yet, I feel this is the best I can do to help myself through the loss and keep her memory alive.

The Bitch

 Ask our kids about Puddy, and at first, they will smile; then they’ll say something like, “What a bitch!” And it’s true. She hated us almost as much as she loved us. Puddy wanted everything to be about her. She was a diva.

For more than 16 years, she graced our home. Loving, in a “need my space” way, she was tolerant of physical contact only on a limited basis at moments of her choosing. She was so beautiful that you wanted to pick her up and squeeze her like a fat baby; but you’d get a fight if you tried. Always at hand but rarely underfoot, Puddy was a beautiful presence for nearly all of our time at home.

Puddy came to us by way of our daughters’ friends: twin sisters Mona and Resna.  The twins had befriended one of their neighbors who complained to them about his new cat Mawmaw. He said that the cat was mean and wouldn’t stop fighting with the other cats. The twins agreed to help him find a home for the mean cat. Resna thought of us and called Gale.

Gale brought her home in October 1994, and when I heard the name they’d given her, I knew we had to fix that right off. A few nights later, our mean cat was sitting in the doorway of the bedroom. I said to Gale,  “Is that a puddy?” Gale laughed and said yes. We decided then that her name would be Puddy.

Puddy hated cats, it’s true. When she came to us she was missing a piece of her right ear from combat with other cats. She always hissed and batted on the window at the neighborhood cats who happened along outside.

Years after we adopted Puddy, we rescued a beautiful white Siamese that was non aggressive and sweet natured. We named him Blanco, and he lived with us for a brief year succumbing to renal failure having consumed antifreeze while on the streets. There are no photos of Puddy and Blanco together. Puddy hated Blanco and fought with him until the day he died.

Puddy hated small kids. There are no photos of Puddy with a child. She made no secret that she was hands off for kids. She would avoid contact with kids but if she got cornered, she came out fighting long enough to make an opening and get away.

If our young grandkids came to visit, Puddy would duck under the bed to stay out of reach. She would hiss a warning if the kids discovered her or got too close; but if a small kid was persistent and reached out to touch her , the kid would find out quickly that petting Puddy was similar to touching a hot stove.

The kids loved her anyway and gleefully chased her about the house.

             

 

She was a very athletic young thing when we first got her. Her front paws had been declawed (really mangled before we got her) but she used her rear claws and the clamping grasp of her front paws to shinny up the side of my chair and lounge across the back while I typed my stories.

 

 

 

She loved the enclosed porch at our old house. The house we bought in the country doesn’t have a screened in porch, and after we moved, she continued to stand at the front door expecting to be let out on the porch.  The best we could do was to put her in a large dog kennel on the deck, but she never got used to that.

 

The hunger

Never one to miss a meal (or a snack), Puddy would magically appear whenever the refrigerator door opened.  If you were moving too slowly while fetching food, you could expect a “hurry up” smack on the leg, and if you were really slow, she’d bite you on the ankle.

That girl was a fried chicken graveyard.

Puddy loved her poultry. Holiday turkey was her favorite meal, but she never turned down fried chicken either. She always had a big appetite, except those times when she would get finicky and demand a change in the entre.

Puddy was a healthy cat. We made a lot of mistakes as pet owners but she was strong enough to endure our fopahs. She was pampered and spoiled for sure, but Puddy wasn’t sick a day in her life until her final two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lounger

Of course about 90% of Pud’s life was at rest. Our bed was her headquarters. She napped in the warmest place in the house in winter and the coolest in the summer. If she hunkered down somewhere, she didn’t give up her spot easily.  She played a game whenever the bed was changed. After fitting the bottom sheet, Puddy would climb onto the bed and wait for you to try put on the top sheet. If you threw a sheet over her she would box at you through the sheet.

 

Holiday cat

Christmas was Pud’s very favorite time of the year. She loved every aspect of Christmas. Tree trimming, gift wrapping, and turkey dinners kept her in the spirit for the entire season.

 

 

The killer

 

She was the Cedar St. Assassin

Puddy was a supreme mouser. Here she is sitting for the first time on the kitchen floor of our then vacant house spotting a small furry critter scurrying about. She chased that mouse across the floor about two seconds after this picture was taken.

When it came to mice, she had a double digit body count. Puddy always presented her kills in the middle of the night, and we always made a point to get up and praise her before we cleaned up the mess.

A born killer, always on the hunt, Puddy was a deadly menace for any vermin that would dare creep about our house. The fact that she had no claws on her front paws didn’t seem to be a factor in her success as a hunter.  She was a master of ambush and surprise.

Puddy lived a life of leisure for sure, but when it came time to get down to business, that bitch earned her keep.

Additionally, it was Puddy who showed me that a cat can count to six at least. At our former residence, our next door neighbor moved away and took with her the perpetual feeder that had been in her backyard to feed her collies during the day. A major drawback to those types of feeders is that they attract mice and rats that use the feeder for a source of food.

When our neighbor removed the feeder, six mice came to our house looking for their next source of food. That was their fatal mistake.

At that time, Puddy slept at the foot of our bed every night. When the mice arrived from next door and appeared in the kitchen at night, Puddy sensed they were there. She camped out on the kitchen rug and watched as the rodents crept about our kitchen. For the next 10 days, Puddy remained in the kitchen killing a mouse on most nights. After exterminating the sixth mouse, she returned to the foot of our bed to sleep.

The mouse signs were gone and Puddy wasn’t camping in the kitchen any more. She knew that there were no more mice in the house. She knew when all six were gone, and the hunt was over.  She had seen every mouse and knew when she’d gotten all of them. Puddy could count to six.

That old house was our former residence on Cedar St. After Puddy repelled the invasion of mice completely annihilating the intruders, she would always be known as the Cedar Street Assassin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Puddy’s gifts to us

 

Beauty

Even as an aging cat, Puddy was a luxurious accessory in any room she graced. As a young cat, she meticulously groomed and cleaned herself. Photos will never convey just how lovely our Puddy was.

Trust

Puddy’s greatest fear was a thunderstorm. If I was home when the rumblings of a storm began, she would find me and lay across my feet or beside my chair. She trusted me with her life.

She always picked fights with me in the early days.  If I sat on the bed to pull on my socks in the morning, I’d feel her batting my arm with her paw. She’d roll over on her side and bat at my hand when I tried to touch her. We’d slap box like that, and then she’d grab my hand with her front paws and try to bite me. Then a full fledged wrestling match would ensue between Puddy and one of my hands. I wasn’t allowed to use two hands, but she’d wrestle either of my hands one at a time.

Despite the rough play, I never hurt her. She always came back for more because she trusted my restraint. No one else could touch her in that manner and not get hurt. Her unbridled trust in me has made a huge difference in the way I look at myself.

Fellowship

I could call it love easy enough, but somehow that word shortchanges what Puddy gave us and got from us. Puddy was family as much as any of us. People thought us weird when we’d break off from an outing to head home and look after our cat. I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand what a gift this small creature was for us.

 

 

 

En Memoriam

A heart shaped stone in a shady grove near our barn marks Puddy’s final resting place.

Puddy passed away in my arms on July 11, 2011 after a brief but devastating bout with an infection. She had suffered through the night with Gale lying on the floor beside her. When I returned in the morning she cried to me and I picked her up for the final time. After more than sixteen years she would no longer block the closing of the refrigerator door or crawl up in bed with me when I'm sick. The loss is huge to say the least.

This tribute is inadequate, I know. More than anything I want to convey that we will never forget her. Puddy will kick our asses in the afterlife if we do.

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