“One of These Cats is Not Like the Other One”

28 Feb

My family has an important announcement to make: our previous existence as non-pet people is about to be shattered.  The wandering calico that adopted us last year is going to be a proud mama.

My ten year old daughter is ecstatic.  She is, bless her heart, at this very moment in time, making blankets for the kittens.  That’s right. Blankets.  Out of scraps of fleece.  For the kittens.

Please allow me this moment in time to love her to bursting and don’t you dare tease her.

Kitten blankets.

We have been cat-less for 7 or 8 years, ever since our previous cat – an indoor calico named Fernie – decided that biting interfering children was worth the scolding and took to doing so at every opportunity.

Fernie. Shy and cranky. Shortly before her biting days began.

We had her for several years, though we should have known better than to keep her from day one.  Of all the cats at the farm where we got her, she was the only one of the liter who RAN AWAY from people.  She would hide beneath the stairs going up to the hay mow and hiss at anyone who came near.  For some inexplicable reason, this intrigued my husband and she was the one he wanted.

We brought her home and after a day or two of getting used to us, she took to running and LEAPING on our backs whenever we were vulnerable.  Bending down to retrieve a pan from a cupboard: LEAP.  Reaching down to water the Christmas tree: LEAP.  Tucking in the corners of the sheets: LEAP.  Yes, she had all her claws.

As time when on she settled down, though she never was a kind creature.  Proof of the fact: When our son was small and learning to talk, you’d ask him, “What does a cat say?” And he, in all sincerity and innocence, would reply with a guttural, “Hissssss!”

Fernie...the inspiration for our son's "Hisssssssing" reply to the query, "What does a cat say?"

She also would hiss at the mail-lady, though she never did bite her, thankfully.  One day, out of the blue, there was a determined knock on our door and there the mail-lady stood, a postal-worker-about-to-go-postal expression on her face.

“If that cat of yours bites me, I’ll sue you.”

“Excuse me?” I responded, amazed at her vehemence.

“I had a bad experience with a cat once,” she insisted.  “You keep her away from me.”

This is the same postal worker who, when she moved to our town, knocked on our door and asked about renting out the upstairs of our house.  We had had a friend rent it from us but she had recently moved away and we had since taken over our whole house just for ourselves.

“I hear you have an apartment to rent out.”

“No, sorry, we don’t.”

“But someone just moved out.  You have a vacancy.”

She's a curious creature.

“Someone just moved out, but we aren’t renting it out; we’re moving in to it.”

“So what about where you lived?  Are you renting that?”

“No, we’re living in the entire house now.”

“But someone just moved out.  They said so at the post office.”

“Yes, but it’s full now.  WE are in the whole house.”

“But someone…”

Not a big fan of the snow.

“We,” I said indicating myself and my invisible family, “are living in the ENTIRE,” I said with waving arm motions, indicating the whole, complete, total home, “house”.

“So you aren’t renting the upstairs?”

“That is correct.  We live there.”

“They said at the office…”

“Sorry about that, but they had no right to suggest that…”


She turned and stomped off.  I really should have seen the threat of suing-over-the-imaginary-cat-bite coming.

Two children plus an angry postal worker proved to be too much for Fernie to take and so we were pet-less for all these years.  But then, early last fall, what to our wondering eyes should appear but another calico, almost identical to Fernie, only with a pleasant disposition and a very hungry tummy.

The kitty when she showed up - a bit thin, but sustained by her life as a fantastic mouser.

We’re fairly certain that she was dumped.  In other words, some ignorant people decided that they could no longer care for her and thought that ditching their house cat in the country would be a good alternative.  How do we know this?  For starters, she had a collar.  Also, she is very friendly and used to humans and clearly not wild.  She also was fairly skinny as if she’d been living a rough life for a few days or possibly weeks.

And so…she adopted us.  It was, apparently, our fate.

About a month after Copernicus arrived. A bit rounder...though not as round as she is now!

She has, to date, destroyed the screen door by climbing up it, killed at least one rabbit and one bird and untold mice.  She runs into the house at any opportunity (she lives mostly in the garage) and sometimes she chooses to ignore the litter box simply to prove to us that she can.

She was friendly from the start. Unlike her predecesor.

Getting to know each other.

My daughter loves her.  She feeds her twice a day and cleans up after her and even goes out in the frigid temps without complaining

And that, I suppose, is what having a pet is all about.  Love.  Responsibility.  And someone to come running the second they see or hear you.

Everywhere we go outside, she goes, too. And that's okay!

Her name, Copernicus, is quite apropos.  She has proven that the earth is not the center of the universe: she is.


19 Responses to ““One of These Cats is Not Like the Other One””

  1. marimann February 28, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    I love the kitty blankets and I’m sure they will be much appreciated by mother and the babies! This is a great story and pictures and, as someone who has recently quit working at the Post Office, let me say that your experience with your mail lady is not an uncommon one. Sadly.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 28, 2012 at 7:45 am #

      I’m sorry about your post office experiences! I’m glad you enjoyed the story, though! And yes, I’m sure that the kitties will at least enjoy the softness of the blankets!

  2. ceciliag February 28, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Brilliant post, very funny, lucky for me all my cats are male, It just happened that way as i do NOt want a feline explosion around here, I have enough trouble with the chickens breeding roosters in the corners!! c

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 28, 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Thank you, Celi! We are thinking we will keep one of the kittens…a male…however, I think that both of them will be visiting the vet for a little operation so that we, too, won’t have more feline explosions! And yes, those chickens of yours keep you busy enough!

  3. Ashley February 28, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    I am pretty sure I know which postal worker you were speaking about.

    She screamed at me and our dog when I was in high school. Infact, screamed might be an understatement….

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 28, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      I think she must be a very unhappy person, which is sad. Perhaps she needs a different job?

  4. Minnesota Prairie Roots February 28, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Those images of the cat wrapping around your daughter’s legs and her petting the cat are precious. If she’s making blankets, the next thing she will try is dressing the kittens in doll clothes (something my sisters and I did as children with our farm cats).

    As for that postal worker, I agree that she must be a tad bit unhappy. You were wise to emphasize that the house would be filled with your family.

    Another wonderfully spun story, Gretchen.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 28, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      Thank you. And gosh, I’m sure you’re right – the doll clothes idea will entrance her! I better keep mum on that one!

  5. cravesadventure February 28, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Love it – kitten blankets:) Thanks for sharing!

  6. bitsandbreadcrumbs February 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    Cute. Cute. Cute. Kids, Kitty Blankets, and Kitties. Wonderful post!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 28, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

      You’re so nice! Thank you. We are all looking forward to the kitten’s arrival – and I’m certain that you’ll all get to see pictures!

  7. Just A Smidgen February 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Your daughter and her little blankies are absolutely adorable, the expression on her face is priceless xoxo. Good for you taking this kitten in.. maybe it’s Fernie born again after a rough life on the lam… ready to appreciate your kind hearts:) I can’t wait to see the kittens!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      I can’t wait to be able to show them to you! Yes, my daughter has a wonderful smile, if I do say so myself! It was funny looking at the pictures of Fernie and realizing that they aren’t as identical as I remembered, but still, I often call Copernicus “Fernie” by mistake. So, I have decided I should call her “Copernie” just to make things easier.

  8. Mel February 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    Your daughter is so cute! Also love the picture of Fernie and the pumpkins 🙂 Carved pumpkins is not a something I have ever seen in real life, but sure hope to one day…

    That postal worker sounds like a not-so-fun visitor to have!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      Yes, the cat sure liked those pumpkins – she poked around in them and everything. Funny. I suppose that you could always carve your own, if you can find one someday! It’s so fun. I love carving them.

      And yes, that poor mail lady. I think she needs a new job – one that will make her happier.

  9. gardenfreshtomatoes February 29, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    Great post…I love the kitten blankets! That we could all – at least occaisionally – see the world the way a ten-year-old does!
    Too bad about Fearnie. The cat my husband’s mother brought home from Salvation Army when he was young acted like that. To this day, he cannot abide cats.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell February 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      Thankfully, my son doesn’t seem to be affected for life by her behavior! We love the story of him “hissing” for the sound a cat makes, though! And yes, I think that there are some things we can learn from 10 year olds, that’s for sure. She makes me smile every time she sits down to make more blankets…she’s up to 12 now, I think!


  1. A Very Good Day in a Busy Week – and a Rustic Peach Tart that will Make Your Day Even Better | A fine day for an epiphany - July 30, 2013

    […] Copernicus, (as blogged about here  in her skunk vrs. cat cat-astrophe and here when she was expecting her kittens and a couple weeks ago, here) stopped by from time to time while […]

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