Saturday, November 01, 2008

Baby Mok

I wasn't sure when to write about Mok. She was my best friend for some time and her passing was a huge dark cloud over our summer. When she came to us there was a great deal of emotion around it all. Margaret's sister was dying in the hospital and her cats were left alone in the apartment for weeks with just the occasional visitor to feed and water them. Eventually Bernice died and we had to deal with the cats. Two came home with Margaret after lots of clawing, hissing and running around. They were pretty wild. "Flufinella" and "Satanspawn" lived in a kennel for awhile in our back room as we tried to get them to relax around us. Fluffinella showed promise although she tended to lay on top of Satanspawn and dominate her. Then Fluffinella started pissing on the couch and crapping in the hallway. She showed no interest in the sandbox, which explained a lot about Bernice's apartment. Finally I decided to find a no-kill shelter for the two cats: one that couldn't be touched and one that couldn't be trained. Funny thing about a bad economy, shelters fill up with unwanted cats and we couldn't unload them. Meanwhile Fluffinella betrayed her cute name by clawing my arms as I tried to remove her from the kennel. Satanspawn just vanished into the nether reaches of the house. I decided Fluffy needed a new home, like any shelter that would take her, so she went away and my arms healed.

Eventually we got Satanspawn to reappear and take food. Jess decided that her name needed a change. She selected "Mok" from some association we never got clear. Mok began to pace around the house, slinking away from the people and hissing if approached. I tried wet food, dry food, catnip and so forth and eventually you could almost touch her as she ate. We lived in the same house like room mates with different schedules.

I've always felt cats could be approached on their terms and I began discussing life and the related concerns, like weather, food, and noises in the house. It was very similar to having a fight with my wife when she refused to talk to me but would allow me to hang around. Except wives don't get off on catnip. Mok and I started a relationship based mostly on herb and food. Margaret found that Mok would chase things like feathers on a string but she wouldn't release them, preferring to try to eat them. I don't know how long it took to have a good relationship with Mok, but we tried bribery mostly. I changed the timbre of my voice and eventually I could pet her if I was slow and gentle. She grew to like the attention. She learned I could be trained and she would tell me when the food dish was empty, or the wet food was dry or the water dish had dust in it. She had some siamese in her and her talking was very active. I could tell when she needed catnip as she would announce, "Meee yowah-owah yowser mowser meeyow meeyow...." and it was catnip time. She'd walk into the house, look down the hall for Margaret and ask "Hello Mahrgret?" very plainly. I'd tell her it wasn't time for the bus yet and Mok would walk into the bedroom, mumbling to herself.

We fixed a blanket at the end of the bed for Mok to sleep on and she seemed to enjoy bedtime best, almost as good as catnip. We found a cat bed at a local discount store and set it at the end of the bed. Mok was so happy that she had her own bed! She'd come and take naps in it during the day. Eventually she'd start out the night by pacing around the house telling us it was getting late. She'd stand at the doorway to the computer room and lecture Margaret about sitting too long. Then she'd find me and let me know how late it was getting. If I was smart enough to listen we'd go collect Margaret and go to bed. Mok would start out just within reach of our hands, getting stroked and whispered to, then climb into her bed and sleep. I found a tiny teddy bear in the basement among Jess's stuff and introduced it to Mok, telling her every child needs a teddy bear. She would touch noses with the bear upon climbing into bed and then curl up next to it. She was very proud of that bear, that she had gotten a personal toy just for Mok. We found a squishy turtle and a string she liked and they became bedroom toys. Mok began sleeping between Margaret and me, stealing warmth and snuggling happily with her best friends.

During the day Mok was interested in hunting outside by the bird feeders, or down in the lowlands, leaving mouse parts in the path for me to relocate. She was good at it, I saw her haul off a good sized rat! She'd practice hunting with Margaret, using feathers on strings as targets. Margaret was better at it than me, giving a good flick just at the right time. Mok spent many hours chasing that feather. Outside in the winter Mok would hide near the feeders, black on white but patient. In the summer she'd hide under a leaf. Eventually neighbor cats would start invading her turf, drawn by the many catnip plants in the garden plots. Fights would break out and as Mok was tough but small she'd often end up hiding on the roof or stuck in the chestnut tree. She started hunting across the street to avoid fights. I warned her about the cars but like all cats she thought she was fast enough to get by.

One weekend Jess was up for a visit and Mok did not come in after dark. We all called her but couldn't get her to come in. Mok could be stubborn, but she always came in before bedtime so she could snuggle with us in bed before snuggling with her teddy bear. The next morning I went out early to call her again. I found her stretched out on a bit of wading pond in the front yard. Someone had brought her home. Later I discovered it was our nighbor, Cathy who had found her body in the street, dead from a blow to the side of the head, a victim of her blackness and the cars which went by too fast to stop in time.

We buried Mok by Furlinghetti and Starr, not far from Fred's grave and we marked it with a stone. She was buried with some food for her journey, a big bag of catnip and of course her little teddy bear. We tucked her in her personal bed and covered her with one of my soft shirts so she won't be cold down there. I knew that sometimes I could be lonely when Margaret was at work but Mok would come and play and talk to me. Now it's just the loneliness keeping me company.

In this time of wars and elections we can miss the important things in life, like sitting in a comfortable chair stroking a furry friend, listening to the warm purr and chatting about life. Mok was one of the best friends I've had in life and I will miss her terribly.
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