Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Alpha Cat

It has been Pretty Lady's long-held view that pet stories, not to mention pet photos, are best confined within the nuclear family. She feels that outsiders are rarely likely to appreciate or understand the nuances of pet personality, and there is nothing she fears more than Being a Bore.

But, in light of recent popular demand, she will break the ironclad rule of a lifetime, and present The Alpha Cat.

Please to ignore the cheap, ugly flower pots in the background; they contain as-yet un-sprouted poppy seeds. Fire escape photo sessions are, of necessity, less than ideal.

Pretty Lady was adopted by the Alpha Cat in Austin, Texas in the summer of 1989. A Mexican vet once asked her what kind of cat he was, and how much she'd had to pay for such a superb feline specimen; she replied, "Simplemente llegó, un día." ("He simply arrived, one day.") The vet declared, "Que suerte." ("What luck.") Yes, indeed.

Astute calculators will remark upon the fact that the Alpha Cat will be at least seventeen, roughly, this summer. Other people's cats generally are showing some signs of wear and tear at such an advanced age, such as big unsightly tumors, urinary tract blockages, gray hair, thyroid conditions, kidney conditions, emaciation, death, and lack of interest in tearing around the house, chasing Brats. (The Brat is another story. We will save him for another, distant, day.) One must note that the Alpha Cat, so far, appears relatively un-ravaged by time.

Pretty Lady has no explanation for this, except that at times she suspects the Alpha Cat of being a Buddha, his consciousness occasionally appearing to transcend the normal limits of space and time. Either that, or he escaped from a genetic research lab at the University, which is not impossible either.

Ordinarily the splendidity of the Alpha Cat's fur and demeanor are difficult to photograph. Magnificent as he is in person, in photos he usually comes out looking like a random, undifferentiated bundle of fluff. Pretty Lady thinks these photos are rather better than usual, despite the ugly flower pots.

The Alpha Cat has accompanied Pretty Lady upon innumerable journeys, both of the mind and the body; he has flown in planes, he has ridden cross-country in trucks, buses, and a Buick (sprawled at his leisure over the seat back, interestedly observing the landscape.) He has acquired numerous dramatic and disgusting abscesses, brawling with oversized raccoons in the ghetto. Once in Mexico, Pretty Lady had to leave him with friends for a few months, and in her absence he went Over the Wall, and hung out in dark corners with the Mexican alley cats. Pretty Lady's friends were forced to perform an Intervention.

In all these myriad adventures, he has always maintained a high standard of politesse, if not always dignity. (One of his favorite postures, particularly in his younger days, was to lie on his back, half-propped against a wall, so that his oceanic stomach displayed itself like Humpty Dumpty's.) When introduced to another cat, he is invariably courteous; he sits upright and peaceful, eyes wide, and psychically indicates the intention, "How do you do. I am the Alpha."

If the other animal is equally courteous, the two of them get along like a house afire. If not--if the wretched creature is psychotic, and yowls indecencies at him, or has the indecent chutzpah to challenge his Alpha-hood, he demonstrates a world-weary contempt for the creature, and takes him out. "Look, I GAVE you a chance," you can hear him thinking. "Shut up already. You bore me."

In terms of human kindness, let us just say that the Alpha is largely unsurpassed by most humans of Pretty Lady's acquaintance. He has always had the sense of when Pretty Lady has had a particularly horrible day, and on these occasions he takes care to sleep by her head, purring like a factory of sewing machines. During one or two severe break-ups, he performed the role of Feline Dishrag with infinite patience and aplomb.

Pretty Lady is sure she has not come close to plumbing the depths of the Alpha Cat's psyche; she humbly realizes that he is most likely being patient with her. After seventeen years, she hardly knows him.


Chris C. said...

My god. You made a pet story worth reading. Not to mention pet photos worth viewing.

You are unique, Madame.

The D.

P.S. Fire escapes with ugly flower pots are to be considered part of one's country estate, where one places a premium on rejoicing in the soil and the sun of Nature and dispenses, for the blooming moment, with the niceties of City Conceits. My own ever-dusty boots fully understand.

ZTora said...

I like the first photo best. Even with the cheap pottery. I like the framing and manor in which you caught the light. What camera do you use? I also like your flower picture. Have you had some photography training?

ZTora said...

As for the pet stories. Only other pet owners grasp their greatness. People who don't like pets would probably be bored.

Anonymous said...

Off topic.

Over at Vox's place, there is a person calling herself "Pretty Lady" (in the posting dealing with a Jewish man writing about Islam) but is lacking the class that we all expect from you. Is that really you over there or is there some one being a faux Lady? I just posted my arguments as to why I think was some one else. Will the real Pretty Lady please stand up?

Ivan Poland

Pretty Lady said...

Darling Ivan, reread the troll's posts again. Have I not told you that the depth of a Pretty Lady is infinite? Do you doubt me? Love comes in many forms.

ZTora--Basic Canon PowerShot A70 digital; and no, just training in framing the world.

Pretty Lady said...

DiesIrae, you may very well be right.

The Alpha and I have a lot in common, which may explain why we bonded so well and so early. We are eclectic in our associations, open to the New, but we do not suffer fools gladly. We find pretenders tiresome. Underneath, we are big huge softies who can absorb a nearly infinite amount of back scratching without getting bored or ceasing to purr.

And as far as movement is concerned--grace, coupled with power, coupled with an elegant softness, and the ability to box like a bolt of lightning when confronted with a canine interloper. ;-)