My partner has a big python named Larry and no, we don’t have cute names for each others goods and chattels. Well, actually, we do. But I’m not telling you what they are.
Larry the Darwin Carpet Python is a jolly old boy, he’s three meters long, super placid, inquisitive and loves a cuddle.
When Larry started getting too big for his rock, my partner Daniel and I found ourselves at Pet Barn one afternoon, looking for a new home for Larry. As I wandered around, I came across a cat in cage. In fact there were two cats, in the bottom cage was a stunning black male with yellowish eyes. He sat with his tail neatly wrapped around his legs and peered out into the store with that classic ‘you must worship me’ cat look. Just below eye level in the top cage, is a tortoise shell female with huge eyes and a big fat belly. She sit’s crouched at the back of her cage, ready to pounce. She doesn’t seem interested in the outside world and has a real agitated look about her .
I never liked cats. We had one growing up, a ginger boy named Tang. He was an outside cat, no collar, he would roam around all day hunting and playing. Then at night he would come inside for a bit of warmth and food. I still remember dad putting Tang’s whole upper body in a gumboot, while he held his legs up and cut off his nutsack. That’s just how old school country people roll I guess. There was no way we would have ever taken an animal, pet or not, to the vet. “You know what’s cheaper than a vet? A Bullet.” dad would say.
On the sides of the cage the cat’s have a little write up about their history with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Pet Barn stopped selling breeder animals a long time ago, now they only have rescue animals.
‘What does the RSPCA have to say about this little black cat down here?’ I lean down and read.
“Hello my names Lane, I’m a 6 month old de-sexed male and I love playing and getting lots of pats! I get along well with other animals and would suit a big family home where I can get lot’s of attention”.
I look at the sleek black cat and he looks up at me. He prances closer towards me and flops down on his back, his paws signalling me to play with him. I don’t feel compelled to pat him, but he is super handsome. Daniels still wandering around so I stand up and start reading the other cat’s storey.
“Hi, I’m Sno0kie, a 2 year old de-sexed female. I’m not good with children, so my first family had to give me up for adoption. I may bite so please beware. I like my own space and would suit a family with no children or other pets. I am toilet trained”.
Wow. Good lord, ‘I must be getting close to my rags’, I think as a rush of sadness hits me like a tonne of bricks. I look at this cat and something just happens to me I can’t explain, I’ve never felt like this before. What a way to paint a picture, this poor darling doesn’t stand a chance. ‘I wonder is she actually does bite?’… I stick my finger in the cage. Snookies head snaps around as she spots my finger in her domain, the blacks of her eyes sharpen and become thinner. She crawls over cautiously, sniffing the air around my finger, before head butting it and looking back up at me. Her eyes are ridiculously huge and there’s something super odd about her. I like it.
Dan comes over to me, looking at Snookie. “What a weird lookin cat”, he remarks.
“I feel sorry for her” I say.
“We’ll I found a new rock for Larry, c’mon let’s go”
“But I’m so sad about her” I squelch as I hold back tears. ‘God damn it Sheila!’ I think to myself, ‘it’s just a bloody cat!’
I cry at the most random moments, most of the time it’s unexpected, even to me. I never know when I’m gunna have a teary, but I know I need to really feel something to cry. Something happened here that just set me off.
I get my shit together and say goodbye to Snookie. She positions herself back far enough so my finger is just out of reach. She looks at me with those glossy over the top eyes the whole time as I walk away.
We arrive home and I go about my Sunday business, getting my stuff ready for work and making containers of food. Daniel finishes packing his bags, he is going away for the week for work. We kiss each other goodbye, promise to text and I watch him drive off. As soon as he is out of sight, Sheila the deviate mastermind springs into action!
Cue James Bond intense trumpet music.
The plan I have secretly been brewing in my head can now go into full effect!
Like a sack of potatoes trying to run, I grab my keys and jump in Ruby, begging her to warm up quickly.
God I am so broke this week, I reckon I just have enough petrol to get to Pet Barn and back. I feel determined and I think ‘I don’t even care, I would walk all the way there just to get this cat’.
I feel excited as I clench the steering wheel and think ‘She’s not spending one more night in that cage. Nor will she spend one more day being called Snookie, what the hell kind of stupid name is that?’
‘Schnookie’ I say out loud as I’m driving along.
‘Shhhaaanookie’ I shout, even louder
‘SHHHNOOKIEEEEE!’ I scream super loud whilst straightening my arms and arching my back at the traffic lights. The man in the car beside me has been watching, his face is worried and confused. I give him a smile and a bit of a wave to show him I am partially sain. The man slowly turns his head back to face the road as he pretends he didn’t see anything. I feel a tad embarrassed, but hey, my innards would surely burst if I didn’t express myself!
I make up a Snookie song as I get closer to Pet Barn.
‘Snook – sah – snook – sah – snook – SHHNOOK – E” I’m a rapper from way back.
I park up right out the front and spring out of Ruby, her door shutting with the familiar thud of an old car. I march right up to Snookies cage, there she is in all her weird glory.
“Hey there little darling” I say to her, “Daniel doesn’t have to know, but you’re coming home with me today”. Snookie looks at me before retreating to her little hidey hole in the corner of her cage.
I look around and see a young Pet Barn lady in a yellow t-shirt, “excuse me!” I call out to her, not wanting to leave Snookies side. She makes her way over and I proudly announce to her, “I would like to adopt that cat please!” My chest puffs out a little and I feel happy and proud because I know it’s the right thing to do.
“Ok great!” Pet Barn Lady say’s with a smile, “He’s a lovely young lad with a great temperament” she is calm and happy, I think she may be a vegan too.
“Yeah, nah, not that black one” I say, “I want to rescue her”, I point to Snookie, who is looking nervously at the little 6 year old boy who’s been wandering around near her cage. The little rat bag’s been poking his fingers quickly in and out through the bars, taunting her. She looks wild and ready to kill, her tail flicking violently back and forth as his little sticky fingers wriggle around.
“AH AH AH, don’t touch that one” the kids mother warns as she pulls her little boy away. Mum to the rescue, I feel a little disappointed…I kinda wanted to see Snookie in action.
Pet Barn Lady’s smile drops and her head tilts to one side as she says in a high, disbelieving tone, “You mean Snookie?”
“Yes, Shhhaaanookie!’ I say enthusiastically.
“Oh, okay, um, I’ll be right back” PB lady takes off to the back office with a little gallop.
I stare at Snookie, who has come to the front of the cage to inspect where the young boy has gone. Her eyes are wild and if she was let out, she would surely chase him down like a tiger hunting a gazelle. I inspect the latch to see if I can let her out, for some real life David Attenborough action. But alas, it is padlocked.
I shake my sinister thoughts off , ‘Surely she can’t be that bad’ I think to myself.
The lady returns, half shuffling but kind of walking. She looks like me when I’m making my way over a pedestrian crossing, I feel it’s rude not to hurry.
Before I can say anything, she looks me square in the eyes and asks “Do you have any children?”
I smile as I reply “Nope, just my partner and I and a big snake”. PB Lady then asks if I’m planning on having any children in the near future.
Wow, I must look particularly maternal and fertile today. PB lady senses my confusion over the question and then follows up with; “It’s just, well, she’s not good with children. Like…at all…”
My god, did this cat eat her last family’s first born child or something?
“I won’t get pregnant in the foreseeable future” I say to her with a big smile. With that she takes off out the back again, her little black flats are slightly too big for feet and they scuff along the floor.
I have a vision of Snookie as a samurai cat, who travels from village to village biting children’s fingers off. She collects the fingers to barter with the local witch for food. But before I can indulge fully in this day dream, the manager comes back, with PB lady following close behind.
“Hi, I’m Carol, I heard you were interested in adopting a cat?” Carol the manager says in a polite motherly voice. She is plump and looks happy.
“Yes I would love to take Snookie here home with me today please” I reply, my patience wearing a little. ‘Why won’t they just let me take this damn cat!?’ I think.
“So you don’t want the lovely black boy down there?” She points with an open hand at the perfectly poised man, staring out at the store in all his contentment.
I’ve had enough. This is a joke. My voice drops a few optics as if I’ve just grown miniature balls, “No, I don’t want him, I want Snookie, is there something wrong with her other than the child thing?”
Carol comes back calmly “No, no, no, nothing is wrong with her. It’s just, we’ll… she’s been here for a while you see. She doesn’t do well with other cats or kids or other people really. She just…” Carol tries to find the right words, “she isn’t really affectionate. So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re after a cat you can pat she’s not the right girl for you”.
Jeez, no wonder Snookies been her for a year with a sales pitch like that, at least she’s honest though. I feel that intense pressure of sadness surround me again after hearing Snookies tale of woe. Before I start falling into a sobbing heap in the middle of Pet Barn, I take a deep breath and hold my shit together.
“She sounds like the perfect cat for me, let’s do some paperwork” I say as my eyes glaze over with salty liquid.
“We’ll alright then” Says Carol in an unsure tone, a little taken aback by my emotion over the cat. Her and PB lady go off to get things sorted. I stand with Snookie and talk to her “Not long now little darling and you can run around at our place and we will love you”
Three hundred and fifty fucking dollars later and Snookie was in a cardboard box in the front seat of the Val, homeward bound.
Here’s my thoughts on the RSPCA – if you want more people to adopt animals who have been abandoned and so forth, how about making it a little fucking cheaper!? I get you may not have the funding and all but holey shit on a stick!
Adoption fee $100
Worming and flea stuff $90
Kitty litter and box $30
Plus I even had to pay for the crappy cardboard box to transfer her home in! I get it I get it, you gotta expect fee’s and what not with these sort of things and you do have to buy the essentials. But c’mon. I was broke that week and had to swipe the ol credit card, and when that happens once, shit immediately gets outta hand. Like afterwards, ‘Well maybe now I will get petrol seeing as though I’m using my credit card’. ‘Well maybe now I will get some mangoes I’ve been craving, even though they’re five dollars each’. ‘Well maybe I’ll just buy the whole organic fruit market, seeing as though I’ve already started’. Jesus.
I get Snookie home and let her out of the box. Hopefully the petrol smell of Ruby hasn’t made her too woozy. She walks out calmly, wide eyed and wastes no time in starting to inspect everything. I watch her as she enters every room in the house and walks along every inch of each of them. She doesn’t sniff or stop, she just walks and looks with her big green eyes and her fat little belly wobbling from side to side. She isn’t phased by my movements and pays no attention to me. Snookie finishes inspecting the house and sits on top of the television cabinet by the window, looking out and ignoring my every move.
I make up her kitty litter and put food and water out for her. I go over to her spot she has claimed and try to pat her. She let’s me, but seems agitated by it. I take note of what Carol has told me and I leave Snookie to her own devices. I sit on the couch and look at her. She sits tall and always seems to be in full alert mode, ignoring the birds but still looking out of the window. Strange. She reminds me of an old TV show called Xena The Warrior Princess, Xena was stern, tough bitch. I google some female warriors and I come across a story of an apache warrior named ‘Lozen’. She is described as being, ‘…strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people’. Well. That sure does describe this cat sitting there being all shield like.
“From this day you shall hence forth be known as Lozen, Warrior Princess!” I say to her out loud. She ignores me on purpose.
We get to know each other over the next week and develop a routine. She bites me a few times and growls at anyone who comes close to the door, like a watchdog. She quickly develops an obsession with my hair ties, plundering them and hiding them somewhere unbeknownst to me. I watched her one morning delicately taking a hair tie out of the draw and gently putting it in her mouth. She trotted straight past me and proceeded to scoot the hair tie along the floor until it went under the fridge. Now when I run out of ties I know exactly where to find some.
Daniel arrives home later in the week to find a new presence in the house.
I smile at him, he knows me.
We tell Lozen we love her every day. We pat her even if she seems discontent with it. We start buying hair ties especially for her to play with. We talk to her and give her attention everyday. We show her the outside world, which she has never seen and immediately loves. It was apparent she had never walked on grass by the way she took a few minutes to decide where each paw would go with every step.
Lozen the tough, seemingly villainous child eater, has turned into a playful, incredibly smart and loving cat. She adores pats and will almost fall off the chair if you get her in just the right spot. She comes running when you call her name, “LOW-ZUN!” She has learnt how to sit and hi-five on command. Her puffy belly is gone and she is as nimble and fit as a cat should be.
Lozen still is a rather peculiar cat though. Daniel tested the theory of her dislike for children, despite my asking him to put her in another room when we have little ones visit. His one year old nephew, Caleb, came around the other day and Lozen went into warrior mode. She ran at the little boy, full pelt, launched onto his chest and sprung off him with her hind legs! The force sent Caleb toppling over, luckily he’s a tough little man and giggled it off. Something must have happened in her past to have caused this behaviour.
She also has good peculiarities, like growling at strangers through the window. She will play with nothing else other than hair ties, no matter how fancy or expensive the other toys I buy her are. She nearly shit herself when I brought her a 100 pack of ties and threw them everywhere. It only took her two days to make them all disappear and I cant for the life of me find out where she is putting them now. She has an obsession with water too. She will stare at a dripping tap for hours, I caught her one day sitting in the sink with her head bowed, while the tap dripped on her body . Her biggest peculiarity is that stare she has, it’s intense and she knows what’s going on.
Now to tackle the complex dilemma of being vegan and having to buy Lozen meat. Didn’t think that one through did I? I’ll work it out it all out in time, don’t you worry about that!
Until then, onwards and upwards with Lozen the Warrior Princess!