Mean While Back at The Store:
There is something to be said about having a store pet. Small dogs and large non-threatening dogs are the most common canine. Who doesn't love the thoughts of a lab curled up under a table or sprawled on a couch. They typically, welcome a pet or a "Helloooo there boy! How are you pretty guy?" They will spring to life, like a key wound toy soldier, and pant or cock a head with the look of "HEY you want to play or rub my belly?" Cats are the most common pet in residence. I guess that this stems from the fact that, cats are self preservers. They make it seem proper and right that YOU, serve them and not the other way around. They seem to blend in. They make themselves become part of the atmosphere, a fixture of the culture and place. Well, for many years, I had a store cat. Antiquea was her name. Great name for an antiques store cat. I'm not sure that she liked it or not. But, she would answer to it. That is amazing, as any cat owner or cat slave knows. Everything about this cat was amazing and different. I saw her for the first time near my back porch, looking for something to eat. All I said to her was, " Hey kitty cat, what are you doin'?" Evidently, that was translated into cat speak for, "Come here and live and I'll feed you." That's what happened, she came and I fed her. All I had was a can of Hormel potted meat and she ate it with delight. Come to think of it, potted meat and cat food do look a lot alike. My God, she was thin! In her healthy days, I fattened her up some, but she never did become a fat cat. It must have been her hard scrap life that kept her thin and agile. She curled up on a towel I had laid out and this became her home for the next 15 odd years. Proper cat bedding and toys quickly followed, but she never much cared for them. Antiquea preferred to hunker down in the section where I kept large paper bags at the front counter. I worried that she would be cold in winter, until I reached my hand in and found it toasty warm from her own body heat. I however, was often cold, and still am.
It seems hard to believe that yesterday marked the 6 year anniversary, since Antiquea last left the store. I knew that the time was quickly approaching. A major holiday, a holiday weekend and promises of another holiday would prolong her suffering. I choose this time, so that things would be quiet in the closed store, after the deed was completed. I looked back, a few days ago, at photos of her during her last weeks with me. Shockingly, I found that she had nearly reverted to her former skinney, starved looked. But I knew that there was one difference, she had been loved, and become a character in the store. Never to be replaced. Though she was independent, she had changed from that of a street cat, a stray feline, to that of a minor Main Street star and legend.
|Antiquea loved to be on the front counter. It made it easier for folks to pet her.|
What a treasure she was to have in the store. I didn't choose her, she picked me. That little cat was responsible for more sales than you can imagine. I think that, as a thank you to me, she endured years of her eyes being almost poked out. Sometimes by kids, just being kids and more often than not, by adults who, " Didn't think she was real?". Would you go up to a statue and poke its eyes, even if you knew it was a statue or figurine? I wouldn't think so. She was carried, packed, toted, talked to, kissed, loved on and once was placed in a baby stroller with A BABY! I'll never forget the elegant, older woman, who rolled around on the floor playing with her. Her expensive skirt riding up around her thighs. She cried real tears, when I wouldn't sell her. Her husband had to almost drag her away. I think that she might have had serious metal issues. People loved to give her treats and cans of her favorite foods. The servant of said cat, received nothing. Honestly, I did make sales because of her. So in a way she did pay for her keep.
There are times that I think I still catch a glimpse of her. You know its funny... I still have her litter box set up and her food dish is under the counter. People still ask about her and more than one sent a sympathy card when she died. I secretly chuckle when folks say that they just saw her last year when they were in town to see Mom and Dad. I guess they don't visit Mom and Dad as much as they should.
And NO there will not be another store cat in the future. I'm not being cruel or denying myself or another animal joy... I raised her, cared for her, befriended her and had her put to sleep and I'm done with that job. I know that there are other animals out there that need help, care and love, but it won't be from me. I'll be more than happy to give an animal food or donate food to an animal shelter. But I'm done with my stint as a cat slave. Dr. Ellis and I were never sure, but we always thought she was about 20 she died. I'll always miss you little girl.