Everybody remembers their first pet very fondly and I am no different. However with my first pet, everyone in my family has a Missy story to tell, and I mean everyone. Some are good, and some are…hmmm…evidence that she wasn’t so sweet to everyone.
When I was a kid, dad had a dog named Sparky and mom had a cat named Precious. I grew up with the two of them, but neither was mine. Precious avoided me like the plague; due to my ill advised pulling out of his whiskers on one side when I was pretty young. I got into deep, deep trouble over that. I have no idea why I did it, but after that incident I was not one to harm the hair on the head of any other animal; unless it was suffering. So, whatever punishment I got (probably a spanking, grounding, and chores) was enough to scare me straight. Precious and I did make up once I was older and had a nice warm water bed. 🙂
Anyway, by the time I was thirteen, I had earned the trust of my parents that I was responsible enough for a pet. Or at least mom was up for another cat; dad was still a dog person at that time and did not want to live with two cats.
Mom called the humane society on my birthday and a guy had just brought in a mommy with 6-week old kittens. His apartment on campus wouldn’t allow pets and it broke his heart to take them to the shelter. Dad and I met mom there and I was told I could pick out one kitten.
It’s there that my dad’s life changed because I picked out Missy. And when I say his life changed, I mean big time. Missy was the most stubborn, affectionate, fast, nimble, playful, protector, hunter, etc cat that I and my family have ever met. Part of why my dad likes cats now is because of Missy.
When I held Missy, something set her apart from her sisters, and I decided on her. Her first act was pulling a stitch out of my sweater. 🙂 Missy was half Abyssinian and half Siamese. She looked like an old tabby cat, but her voice had the dialect of Siamese.
From day one Missy was a talker. She would talk to you or wander through the house looking for you crying for you to answer. She was really funny with hide and seek which was one of her favorite games. I’d lose her somehow in our house and head over to dad’s bathroom (only named that because that’s where his stuff was). He had a shower that we rarely used in there. I’d quietly open the door and get inside. Then I would holler as loud as I could “MISSSSY!!!” She’d come flying through the bathroom. When she got to either the bedroom or kitchen (depending on direction) she’d yell “MOM!” I’d quietly say her name the next time “missy”. She’d fly back through and would holler “MOM!” with urgency because she couldn’t find me. I’m telling you she would have been a good mouser with as good of hearing as she had because the next time, I’d whisper “missy”. She’d be right at the door. Only the first time, did I have to step out to show her where I was. After that, it didn’t take her long to figure it out.
Along with having awesome ears, Missy loved her tail. Oh my, how she loved that tail. It was the scrawniness tail you have ever seen, but she was quite proud of it. It was the one thing that if you grabbed onto would get you bit. She never broke the skin on the first bite; it was more of a warning. If you continued to persist, she would go deeper until you got the idea that touching her tail was not the greatest idea in the world. Missy would bite any kid that touched her tail. The kids could pet her and pull her fur, and she wouldn’t say a thing. As soon as the kids touched her tail though, there were words and usually teeth involved. As far as I know she never bit a kid and broke the skin. She definitely scared a few though.
What’s funny is that scrawny tail is why she was so nimble at walking on ledges or narrow fences. She was very coordinated at maneuvering her tail to keep her body balanced. So far, she is the most nimblest cat I have ever met. Skip and Mason aren’t even in the same league they are so poor at being nimble and Oreo, well he’s better, but he has so much fur on his tail that he loses out. Missy wins by a long shot.
Missy was leash trained and this time by leash trained, I mean you could walk around outside with Missy and she would follow. Now she was a little slower than a dog because she had to smell everything, but just a little tug would get her moving again. My favorite thing to watch was her jumping after a bug in the yard. I’d be holding the leash, but she had plenty of slack. The bug would jump and so would Missy. Missy would have both paws out in front of her landing where she thought the bug would be. She could play that game for hours. Her other favorite outside activity was laying on a wood swing that we had. I would tie her off on the swing; she’d climb up in it and lay across it. When the wind blew, she was swinging. 🙂 She loved it.
One of the unfortunate things that did happened when Missy was really young was she got into some ivy that mom had up on the counter. Ivy is poisonous to cats. We came home from Christmas Eve at Grandma’s to a mess. Missy knowing that she had a problem after eating the ivy started eating the real Christmas tree we had until she did what cats do and expelled the Ivy. Not knowing what the problem was…Christmas tree or Ivy; Dad promptly placed the Christmas tree on the deck outside. That’s how we celebrated Christmas next day with the tree lit up…outside. On Christmas Day, Missy couldn’t keep any food down. Mom suggested Second year Baby Food Meats because the food is already processed to try and get her system to relax. Dad and I headed out and found the one grocery store that was open. Missy loved the food.
It only took a week to get her back onto real cat food. To this day, if a cat of mine is having trouble eating for whatever reason, we get the second year meats baby food. Usually, it only takes a day or two for kitties to heal enough for regular food. I don’t recommend the baby food for long term use because it’s baby food and has high sodium, but short term use, it works great.
Missy was rotten, but in a funny way. 🙂 One of the things she used to do was knock over the trash can for the dog. Missy had the size and strength to do it where as our dog was little. As far as I know Missy never actually ate anything out of the garbage, but merely assisted the dog. My dad would be the first one up and in his bare feet (after walking through it in socks once) would walk in coffee grounds. Sometimes he cleaned it up (it was his dog) and sometimes I was awoken (my cat) to clean it up. Not too long after, mom and dad just bought a wood trash can that Missy couldn’t knock over. You see we were human’s in training by the cat. Some things were just easier to change rather than try and catch the stubborn cat in the act.
Missy was also a meat thief. This is totally another story and funny, but as my aunt and uncle learned when they watched her once (only once as she was told she could not return) when we warned them about putting meat in the microwave when you leave the kitchen…we were serious. This story is also where my dad got his big training and I think came to really respect Missy as more than a cat. So, for now I will leave it that she was a meat thief. 😉
Another part of our training was to put the toilet seat down. Missy loved water! And spray bottle containing water were play for her. Before we got her, my parents and I rarely put the toilet seat down. After finding Missy playing in a toilet which got her a prompt bath, we started putting the toilet seat down. Any visitors were given instructions to put the seat down. One of us would go and make sure they did when they were finished. They probably never realized it as we did it by stealth. She was the easiest cat to give a bath to and a single person could do it right in the kitchen sink. She wasn’t running anywhere, she liked the water. You could also blow dry her on the slowest setting. Being vacuumed with the brush attachment was another of her odd favorite things.
The other thing Missy (she was really long) could do, that very few cats can do was open doors. When we moved to our new house, Mom thought the lever handles on the doors looked nice and so she had dad replace all the round door handles with the lever kind. Missy was smart enough that she figured out how to open them. Obviously, if she was on the side where the door would open inward, she had no trouble. But she was smart enough and worked hard enough at opening a door that opened inward from the opposite side. It was really funny to watch because it took her several tries to get the door unlatched. Once it was unlatched she’d work the door from underneath until it opened. She loved standing on her tip toes to see over things.
Missy was really intelligent and you could see it in her eyes as she figured out how to get what she wanted. Of course, what she wanted wasn’t necessarily what she should have or what she should do. For example, Missy could not stand to see me pay any attention to Mechant (mom’s cat). Mechant would pay the price for me even talking to her. Missy would get into trouble for hitting Mechant. And then the funniest thing would happen (funny now), whoever would tell her to go to her room for timeout. She’d go trotting back to my room with a human following her to shut the door. She’d be put into timeout for 15 minutes. If Missy came out with a bad attitude which resulted in Mechant getting hit again, then we’d send her back to her room for another timeout. The next time she came out, she wasn’t happy, but would avoid any confrontations. For the record, there was a difference between her playing and just plain old hitting Mechant. You’d have to be there, but we knew the difference.
Now I don’t want it to sound like Missy was a mean cat. She wasn’t; even if she had the vet scared of her. 😉 Missy was more vocal (read Siamese which sounded really scary) than she was physical. Her bark was actually way worse than her bite. She was very sweet if you were dad, mom, my grandma (mom’s mom) or I. All of us knew that to control Missy you had to get the upper hand and could not allow her to be alpha over you. Most people (even dogs) would shy away which gave Missy power. She once hit a German Shepard so hard that it ran tail back to its owner. She would not back down, but would hold her ground. If you stood up to her, she respected you.
I really miss her and some of the things she pulled. Today they are funny, but boy she could get dad’s blood boiling. He’s since been fully trained by Missy and our boys today don’t realize how good they have it. We still enjoy telling Missy stories which usually begin with “Do you remember the time she…” Everyone has a story to tell, and if I haven’t seen my aunts, uncles and cousins in awhile, they will ask about Skip and inevitably a Missy story is always told…usually with affection. She touched a lot of people and even people who are dog people could appreciate and respect her.
Missy was the ultimate first pet and there will never, ever be another cat like her. 🙂 May everyone have a first pet that is as memorable as mine was. Rest in peace, Missy!