Tuesday, September 03, 2002

The other day, I cleaned up around my desk and found a red cat collar with a bell on it. It's a legacy from my first cat, Remington. I'd picked the name years before I got a cat, being a great admirer of the show Remington Steele. heh :)

Remington was a gorgeous Siamese mixed with domestic short hair. Even though I raised him from when he was six weeks old, Remington hated humans. He tolerated me, but he hated everyone else; Dave's arms were marked up with scars from where he and Remington wrestled. The vet recommended that we neuter him early, to keep the feline testosterone level down, but it didn't make much difference. The vet started charging me the wild animal handling fee when I took Remington in for his shots. Eventually, because he was so ill tempered, we had all Remington's claws removed -- at which point, he started biting. To show his displeasure at my having a baby, he'd pee in Chris's crib.

He was beautiful, feisty and full of character. We had to take him to the humane society before we left Washington because I knew with his temper he would come back from Hawaii's long quarantine absolutely feral...and with two small children, I couldn't risk having him go ballistic. I cried all the way down and back because I knew no one would want him, despite his beauty, and he'd be put down. There's a Far Side cartoon where a bedraggled couple is entertaining a woman in their totally trashed living room while a cat sits regally before them. The oblivious visitor leans over to pet it saying, "Oh! What a beautiful Siamese...is it friendly?" That was totally Remington. My coworkers loved hearing wild Remington stories; and unfortunately, because they knew the tales, none of them wanted to have him in their house.

So I'd saved his lovely red collar, which he only wore once or twice before getting his teeth caught in it while trying to chew his way out of it. I removed the collar so he would't break his jaw, even though it's the safety kind that comes off if snagged. The plastic snap of the collar still has chew marks on it.

I put the collar on Mittens, thinking the red would look lovely against his fur. Also, since Mittens likes to sniff around outside, but gets freaked out so easily, I want to put on a tag so if he runs in a panic to the wrong house, they'll know where he belongs.

Rob and I think it's the bell that freaked him out. That gentle, tinkling sound that came somewhere behind him...or beside him...or beneath his chin. Mittens didn't mind the collar around his neck -- and it did look really nice -- but for some reason, he became intensely affectionate. He curled up on my lap for most of the day, or followed me and Rob around, and then uncharacteristically, curled up beneath Rob's desk, even though Rob's chair was available for the taking. He slept in our bed instead of jumping up to Phil's top bunk, as he usually does.

The next morning as Mittens wound his way between our legs, purring and kissing our feet, Rob laughed, "I think he's being cuddly cause he wants one of us to take that thing off." So he did, and whoosh! The Real Mittens returned, dashing away like a mad thing up and down the stairs and wrestling with Rob for ownership of the chair.

Rob teased Mittens by dangling the collar and allowing the bell to jingle. Mittens sniffed at it cautiously but didn't seem to perturbed. I might just take the bell off and put the collar back on him. Rob, however, thinks it makes him more docile with the bell, so we'll see. He's already pretty docile -- compared to Remington.

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