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Last year, we adopted a vagabond cat. In the middle of summer, a pretty little tortie began wandering our neighborhood. She was incredibly sweet and friendly, and would patiently stand at our back door, awaiting her invitation. We couldn’t tell if she was stray or not. She was on the skinny side, but not at all starved. She only took occasional interest when I offered her food. Her coat was soft and shiny, though one of her back legs stuck out kind of funny. We decided she was the friendly neighborhood and let it go at that.
As the weather got colder, she became more determined to stay inside our house. I started questioning neighbors and discovered they had been feeding her, too. She was a stray, though not anymore. She became our cat. We named her Maja, after the daughter of some Danish friends.
A trip to the vet revealed Maja to be over 10-years-old, lame in one leg and teeth gone rotten from neglect. We got her teeth fixed, medicine for her leg, and all her shots, and made our home as loving as possible for her. Still, it was a difficult transition for a vagabond cat, used to coming and going as she pleased. She lets us know she’s still independent and we try to honor that while providing her with a forever home.
This morning, when I found “Sisypuss: Memoirs of a Vagabond Cat,” I immediately thought of Maja. I’ve often wondered about her life before us and wished that she could tell us what happened. After reading the description of “Sisypuss,” I hope it’s nothing so bad as that. This is a book for cat lovers, but be warned, by the end of the first page I was already crying. Don’t let that stop you. Sisypuss has a story that needs to be told.
Sisypuss: Memoirs of a Vagabond Cat by Patricia Halloff
Three paws in the grave, I lie in my cozy window bed and narrate my curtailed life. Except for the days after birth, when I am blind and helpless as a worm and in no position to see what’s what and one other time when my coauthor takes over, I speak for myself. With literary flair I interweave memories of the years before Booley took me in with accounts of his seriocomic troubles: drugs (he enrolls in clinical trials as a work alternative), women, and poetry editors. Our litter’s born in a smelly doghouse icy as an igloo to a sick and homeless mama. From birth, despite my innate optimism and my brother Bob’s inborn skepticism, Bob and I are inseparable. Our first joint victory is over villainy (exercising teamwork which’ll stand us in good stead during our too-short time together), the thwarting of Simon’s attempts to hog Mama’s scanty milk. A bad beginning. Shipped off to a shelter, our family’s torn apart: Mama’s put down and replaced by a crazy calico wet-nurse who terrorizes us until the day we’re all adopted. Alice and Simon go off to good homes. Bob and I are released to a bad guy.
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