Thursday, August 9, 2012

Precious Pepper

It was just about four years ago, on a ridiculously hot weekend in August, that we brought Pepper home from the SPCA.  And our lives have never been the same!
Pepper on her first day home
Both Walter and I have had wonderful cats in the past… brilliant, beautiful cats who were fierce hunters and defenders, who explored fearlessly and who grew up and grew old with us.  But I can honestly say that none were quite as joyful as Pepper or quite as entwined with our daily lives.
Pepper by Beate Casati
Pepper reminds us that it is often the little things, just like her, that bring the greatest happiness.

Pepper would tell you…
Eat when you are hungry… a bit now and a bit later is fine.  You don’t always have to clean your plate.
But lick your lips and drink a lot of water.  It’s okay if it dribbles off your chin.
Naps are good.  And you feel better if you stick to your same bedtime every night.
Clean between your toes.  And don’t forget to stretch.
Pepper still stretches like this!
Pay attention.  The world is an amazing place.
Smell the flowers, literally.  I often find Pepper face-down in a blossom.  Ajuga and Abelia are some of her favorites.
Speak up.  Let someone know when you need help or a cuddle.
In fact, cuddle every day.

Don’t be afraid to jump for a sunbeam, even if you look a little silly.
Sometimes you need to run all out.
And sometimes you need to lie down, right now, right where you are.
I’ve been known to worry aloud, “What if we never found each other?”  Not only was Pepper abandoned at birth, but by the time we discovered her at the SPCA, she had already been adopted and returned by a family who thought her too rambunctious.  Too rambunctious?  Umm… isn’t that the point of kitty cats?  Walter and I think so.

Pepper’s job is to play.

Although her favorite things tend to wax and wane with the seasons, they are all about play and include
  • Sparkles:  She spends a couple hours every morning and evening chasing the sparkles on the wall cast by the reflections or headlights of passing cars.
  • Squirrels:  We don’t talk about squirrels unless there is a squirrel for her to see.  It’s just too exciting.
  • String:  As my brother says, “Man, that cat loves string.” She can entertain herself for hours with a shoe string… throwing it, catching it, running with it.
  • Bees:  Yes, she gets stung every year.
  • Butterflies are mesmerizing.
  • Birds are fascinating too... but rather noisy, especially the tiny ones.
  • And lately, she has been obsessed with snails and cicadas.
The truth is that she’s not a sophisticated hunter.  She’s interested in the search not the kill.  She’s inquisitive, within bounds, and always inventive when it comes to play.  I’ve watched her chase the shadows of big, fat bumblebees when the real things were beyond her reach.  Pepper loves to pounce on billowing sheets when we make the beds.  What fun!  Hiding, jumping, rolling.

My mother lost her patience on a recent visit.  “She needs to learn – not everything is play!”  Oh, I hope not.
Of course, we haven't been able to hang our glass Christmas ornaments lately.
But they look so pretty in bowls and cases.
A lot like shiny toys.  Right Pepper?
While Pepper may not always get her way, she never stops trying.  And we’re okay with that too.
If the word “spoiled” comes to mind, well, you can think what you like.  Pepper is allowed to keep her favorite stick in the dining room.  But it’s an absolutely PERFECT stick.  She has a bed, cat-size, of course, on each floor of the house, and a place to sit up high, at least table height, in almost every room.  Her daddy enclosed the back yard, mainly with a mesh fence, so she is protected from busy traffic but can still watch the goings-on.
And he just built a small flight of stairs so she can reach her favorite tall window.

It might seem like a lot fuss.  But what Pepper gives us in return is incomparable.  And I can’t imagine these past four years without her.

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