Two Cats and the Woman They Own

Two Cats and the Woman They Own by Patti Davis

Two Cats and the Woman They Own: Or Lessons I Learned From My Cats

Patti didn’t really adopt Aretha, her first cat. Aretha adopted Patti. When her second cat, Skeeter, moved in, Patti came to realize that she, a self-avowed dog person, was now officially in thrall to two very demanding little felines. In 12 short chapters, each delightfully illustrated by Ward Schumaker, she recounts how her life was changed for the better by living with and learning from her cat companions. Davis closes each charming vignette with a “Life Lesson.” The lessons, like the stories they illuminate, are thoughtful and perceptive. Davis has produced a small treasure of a book; it’s sometimes wry, sometimes moving, always universal, and, most importantly, wise.

2 Responses to Two Cats and the Woman They Own

  1. Lori says:

    Our significant others are who we chose them to be. I am a serial cat “owner.” You don’t own family. Each cat adopted me with a leap of faith and kitten-sized hugs; we were, inevitably, family. Not like the family of my childhood. I had a Mom and a Dad and a sister. I was closest, however, with the “rescues” my father brought home to me.

    We first rescued “Tiger” from my Aunt’s impending marriage to a human. My Grandpa added a birthday puppy, Pepper, whom my mother disowned. Mom’s dis-ownership of my new love, Pepper, was a heart-retching signal to me; if I were too much trouble, I’d be sent back to the “pound” too. And so I grew resolve, only inside my own imagination, that one day I would be the voice of the animals. Still, Dad brought home other “rescues.” My dog for life – a cockapoo, various cats, four gerbils, one guinea pig, two ducks, two rabbits, five eggs that we hatched into “chicks”, a garter snake, an iguana, and one squirrel. I taught myself to tend to them just as any veterinarian-in-the-making. I was certain becoming a veterinarian was my calling.

    We’d nurse each animal back to life and good health, until Dad felt it was ready to go back into the woods, a nearby farm or a ranch. I learned the ways of wildlife too. High upon my horse, seated in front of my father, in an English or Western saddle, depending upon where we were riding, we would survey the mountains, deserts or backwoods, looking for creatures I might one day tend too. We were most often escorted by U.S. Forest Rangers, through pristine trillium-laden trails, cloaked in forest greenery, giving way to mountain vistas or crystal clear streams visited by deer, chipmunk-squirrels and my once-in-a-lifetime encounter with bears cubs, eager as I, to make friends. Our much smarter, forest ranger, directed me to scramble up a fire tower ladder for safeties-sake.

    Far from the likes of Beverly Hills and Bloomfield Hills and their tributaries, the Santa Monica Freeway and Northwestern Highway, which gave way to the concrete jungles of Rodeo Drive or Maple Road, and the always upscale fashion districts attitude: “that’s what they’re wearing this year,” I was perfectly content. I fit in! I was well dressed. I was perfectly shaped. I didn’t “need” a boyfriend. I was whole. I was home with myself. On hiked with my Dad, I’d learn and memorize plant names, geological formations, star constellations and the difference between a Great Lake, a river and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. At school I was light years ahead of the other kids. I raised my hand so often to answer questions — I didn’t know what failure was. I was also happy to memorize the Brownie Promise, the Girl Scout Pledge and stand next to my school desk reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag every morning. I happily sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic in the fourth grade chorus and won the National Spelling B championship in fourth grade and went all the way to the district finals against high schoolers. My identity was in tact. Actions have consequences; good work is rewarded.

    All this being true, it never occurred to me I would be penalized for great performance. All this being true, it never occurred to me that half a century later, a U.S President would call me an “Idealagogue” and undermine the values I espoused to uphold with my “behavior beyond reproach.” It never occurred to me he’d send “advance men” to break into my house, hack my computer and use my words without paying for it. It never occurred to me that foreign-students and affirmative action hires would lie and cheat and threaten me using white collar-criminal tactics, the least of which rivals the worst of the Watergate break in — also the same year as my father’s unexpected and horrifically tragic death.

    Most importantly, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a POTUS would say it was O.K. to kill my cat — poisoning him with fumes funneled into my apartment, injecting his medicine with heroine and then finishing him off with a bovine-injection. He wasn’t a cow. He was a cat. He wasn’t just a cat — he was my responsibility. He wasn’t just my responsibility — he was my family. He was my confident. My friend. My ally. He was love in my life. He gave me purpose. To take care of another living thing without causing injury, harm or pain — is a rare gift few of us have. It is how I have tried to live. So never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine, a POTUS, would say and promulgate an industry built upon undocumented human subjects testing. I was taught and thought we fought World War II to stop abuses like this. To kill all that I care about — my family — my pet is in this country today, undocumented human subjects testing.

    Patti recently said, “if a band of gypsies had taken her away from her parents, they’d have been o.k. ” A band of gypsies, in a sense, took me away from my parents, and I was not O.K. So I created an intractable bond with my pets. Without my last cat, I am not O.K. I vowed to protect him. Having failed this, through no fault of my own, I must dig deep inside to remember my best self. I forced myself to reflect work I produced a long time ago when we lived in a culture that valued ideals that kept me plugging away to over come the tragedy of my father’s horrific death.
    Patti’s Dad was POTUS then. Or course, my boss, my mentor, my surrogate father, like-Dad#2 (they’re all the same person), put his name on my work. Patti’s Dad and my like Dad#2 argued about it a lot. Ultimately they appeared to agree on everything right before Christmas 1985. It was someone in a politically obscured vantage point of history that did not want our agreeable Dads to agree.

    I miss my cat. The story of his life is important to me — and the world. He saved my life. Apparently this administration does not believe my cat deserves the title “service for others.” As of July 2010 only dogs may be service animals. Executive Orders not withstanding, my cat was my family.

    I chose not to have kids because I didn’t want to pass “it” on. I didn’t know what “It” was until ABCNEWS 20/20 did a story on “IT” in 1998. “IT” was bad medicine. “IT” was bad health care. “IT” was bad doctors injecting people with drugs for easily cured physical injuries. “IT” was “gas lighting.” I was perfectly fine.
    At least I have had a great relationship with each of my cats.

    Actually, I just want to write about my three cats. The story is a lot longer than “Two Cats and A Woman….’ that Patti wrote. And then I wondered if Patti might be interested in doing it with me. We’d get a much larger advance if she were involved. My cat was so important to me I wanted to have a funeral for my cat rivaling JFK at the Reagan Library. We’d make it a fundraiser for women in politics who thought they were going to lead quiet lives. That is, I thought I was going to lead a quiet life as a veterinarian. It turns out those who controlled my full-ride academic scholarship to the university of my choice anywhere in the world, were politicians. I didn’t get the career I wanted. The career I dreamed off. The career my father worked with me to have. The politicians won. It’s been that way for forty years. I want to write about the truth. And why one cat matters most of all. The politicians still want fiction. Old Yellar wasn’t fiction. Champion Dog Prince Tom wasn’t fiction. Patti wants to write fiction now. Maybe she could help me fictionalize the truth. You never know. And connections matter. It’s a long shot to ask here. So thank you in advance, Patti, for your anticipated kind consideration and prompt reply.

    Best Regards.

  2. Erika Griesemer says:

    Though, I am more of a dog lover than cat lover, I have to say what a wonder lessons to be learned from our feline friends. This book makes me think how we can take these lessons in human world. Thank you for writing such a wonderful book.

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