Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday Catbird Blogging

She's a tuxedo cat, but a bit lopsided. Half a white mustache, alternating white and black eyebrows, depending on the molt, and nowadays a small circle of grey fur on her forehead betraying her age on an otherwise pretty typical black and white domestic short hair feline (B&W DSH, as they record on the vet logs.) She's 13, which I easily remember because she was one and a half, the same age as my daughter, when we got her. It was late Feb, and after the obligatory two weeks of mourning for her predecessor I was in a rush to find a replacement. Only there weren't any kittens to be found. I called the pound, I called pet stores, I looked at the ads in the paper, but basically people said "kittens arrive in Spring numbskull" and sent me packing. One of the rescue groups sent me to a local "cat lady" though, and she told me about a young female cat she was trying to place. Arriving at her house, I entered a living room where what felt like hundreds (more likely thirty or forty) eyes looked up at me from perches on couches, chairs, tables, floor, window sills, TV set, fireplace, in fact nearly ever surface of the room had a resident cat. A couple of dachshund were dashing around barking and I was invited into the kitchen where still more cats stared at me, one of which was "Della" the cat I was there to see. (Yes as you have already guessed, the house did not smell any too fresh and with the number of animals walking on kitchen counters I was glad I wasn't invited for lunch. Imagine the cat litter logistics in this house!)

Della's story is quite similar to Acorn's, although in some ways both more horrible and less traumatic. Her original owners didn't bother to get her fixed and at puberty she got pregnant. They did not want to deal with this problem so they took her to the vet and asked him to put both her and her soon to be born kittens down. The vet refused but offered to board Della in a rescue home, and so she became a foster child, bore three kittens, which being cute little guys were promptly placed, and there she still was still hanging out with a herd of about 40 other rescue cats and a couple of wild little dogs and a local cat saint, albeit a rather obsessive cat saint. In any case, by now you've ascertained my weakness for these kind of sad stories, so you know the teen mom went home with me. Attributes in her favor included her ability to get along with other pets (we had another cat we didn't want to piss off), her mellow attitude about everything, and that charming half mustache.

But the name was all wrong. Della. This cat had a touch of the whimsical about her, still some kitten left, and Della seemed so stodgy. But nothing else seemed to work. We went through all the typical names for a tuxedo, but in the end a week had gone by and there was still no better name. One night though, we were looking at her oddly-shaped spots and next thing I knew I was humming a silly old song my Dad would sing around the house, "Lydia, Oh Lydia, the Tattooed Lady" and lacking any better ideas we decided to name her that.

Now this might come as a surprise to you but I knew nothing else about this song until tonight, when it occurred to me "oh heck, I can look up the lyrics on google." Ok I think I do remember something about Groucho Marx singing it, but I am startled to learn it was redone in the movie Philadelphia Story, and more still to read the full array of wacky lyrics now associated with our cat:
Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
and a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it, The Wreck of the Hesperus too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
if you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree,
or Washington crossing The Delaware.


Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of them all.
For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
with a view of Niagara that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!


Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.
Here is Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon.
Here's Godiva, but with her pajamas on.


Here is Grover Whelan unveilin' The Trilon.
Over on the west coast we have Treasure Isle-on.
Here's Nijinsky a-doin' the rhumba.
Here's her social security numba.


Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
for he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
(He said Lydia...)
They said Lydia...
We said Lydia, la, la!

Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg.

My my my.
I had no idea.
It's perfect for her.
She's never been a Della anyhow.

Being thirteen she has her share of stories: for now I'll just share one. As I mentioned, she was used to the dogs in her shelter home, and soon she established a practice of running up to meet dogs on the sidewalk in front of our house when people would stroll by on their evening walks. It seemed she was fearless, and this proved out the week we chose to board a friend's lab while he went on vacation. A friend's 150 pound lab that is. What we didn't realize is that Lydia felt territorial about her backyard even if she kissed dogs walking out front. So when we let "Buddy" out in the back, Lydia waltzed up to him and arched her back and hissed, all too clearly, "Get the heck out of my yard." Unfortunately, Buddy was not smart enough to back away from this terrifying cat he outweighed by at least 130 pounds, and so she literally leaped onto his back and dug her claws in. At this moment, I must say terror and hilarity competed for top billing, and while hilarity won out when she jumped back down as the dog ran for his life, we later paid the price in round two when the dog chased her up a fence which led to torn knee ligaments and much costly medical intervention. But to this day, gimpy and verging on elderly she is top dog in the household, even over the resident border collie.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?