Yesterday's Magazette

7 – Babe and Angel

Babe and Angel

By Nicholas Campanella

There would be no way to get an indictment. The case would never make it to court. The evidence was circumstantial. I came home from work. The brand new bag of cat food lay on the kitchen counter just to the left of the sink. The lower left hand corner of the bag had been chewed open. Cat food lay scattered about. Some of it had been eaten. The bag would have been open in a couple of days when the old food ran out. But Babe and Angel wouldn’t wait.

Angel, the Jimmy Valentine of doors, had undoubtedly opened the cabinet. Getting beyond barriers was her specialty. Babe more than likely came up with the idea of hitting the new bag of cat food. This isn’t something Angel would have done on her own. But with her mother’s prodding she had to go along.

I had purposely hid the new bag of food on the top shelf of the cabinet over the sink. When I bought the food home I made sure they weren’t around. They got wind of it somehow and it was just a matter of time. I put the new food in a plastic bag and stashed it in the fridge. I climbed the steps. Entered the bedroom and there they were. Angel. Orange Tabby. Cute as a button. Approximately eight pounds. Eight inches at the shoulder. Sporting white boots. Babe. Every bit the Abyssinian except for the color. Black fur. Ticked with white. A spot of tan and enough red Abby color on her left leg to remind you of her heritage. Pointy tufted ears. Green almond shaped eyes. Wedge shaped face. In profile she looks like a bunny rabbit. But don’t let those cute bunny looks fool you. Babe grew up with a large dog. She chases cats. Many a large tomcat has had to go through the humiliation of having the fur knocked off him by Babe. Sometimes she likes to chase them up a tree and then hang around the base of the tree adding insult to injury.

In the cat world the cat police warn other felines she is probably armed and dangerous. Do not attempt to apprehend. Unfortunately the cat police can’t indict her either. Babe is a smart cookie. She knows the law and is adept at wriggling around it. She never draws first. She provokes the other cat and then lets the teeth, claws and fur fly. She’s the Doc Holliday of cats. When a male struts into the yard to stake a claim Babe casually walks up to him and says, “ I’m your huckleberry.”

They were lying on the bed side by side. Mother and daughter. Front feet folded under. Looking completely innocent and as far from the scene of the crime as possible. They were watching The Fugitive. When I confronted them with their caper they gave me some cockamamie story about a one-armed cat in the house. I gave up, sat down on the bed with them and watched The Fugitive. They purred contentedly.

Babe is gone now. On a cool cloudy November day in Tampa, Florida I carried her home on a bus in my arms. She was five weeks old. Nearly eighteen years later to the date she died in November of 2001. She died in my arms. Like I knew she would. She has been in seventeen states. A great traveling companion. Was with me in three decades of my life. My twenties, thirties and forties and was one of the most beautiful beings I ever encountered on this planet.  Everybody loved Babe. She was great at winning over dog owners and people who didn’t like cats. Folks were amazed at the fact that she would come when called or whistled to. She would sit, stay and shake hands. And many times a visitor, when getting ready to leave, would find Babe lying on their coat. When they said, “Babe, I need my coat,” their eyes would light up with amazement when Babe obeyed and stepped off the coat.

Babe died here in Tucson, Arizona clinging to life with an iron will. Not wanting to leave her family. Her home. I told her, “You go now Babe and have a big dream. It’s okay. You’ll always be in our hearts and eyes.”

Angel will be nineteen in October 2004. She has lived three years beyond the death of her mother and together these beautiful felines have provided me with a total of twenty-one years of love, joy and committed companionship. When Angel is gone it will be the end of a legacy.

Angel is an extremely vocal cat. Some cats meow. Angel has conversations. She has an extremely wide array of sounds. A deep throated murmuring when she has had an especially good treat or snack. One sound when calling to me from another room. Another when she lets me know she has entered the bedroom. One sound signifies her intent on jump up on the bed and another when, upon the bed, she desires to be petted. An annoying screeching sound after she uses the litter box. After which she comes flying out of the bathroom. Stops suddenly in the living room. Ears alert. Ready for anything. Slightly crouched. After making a couple of mad dashes about the house and running across the couch she settles down by the window. Angel is definitely a talker.

Every day with Angel now is precious. Words could never capture how I feel about her. If I smooth the hair down on her face it is the spitting image of her mother’s face. Angel’s eyes used to be yellow. Now they are green like her mother’s eyes.  Angel has always had a mystical aspect to her. It is as if she is letting me know her mother is okay by letting me see Babe in her.

They say God made the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. That’s not entirely true. While resting God realized he had forgotten one thing.

Cats.

He forgot to make the housecat. So on His day off He placed the house cat in the world to grace our homes and touch our hearts. And, as a special touch, He made certain the cat would, psychologically, be the closest being on the planet to us. And this was good.

Because in this crazy world when you enter your home and your feline comes to greet you, you close the door on all of your problems. And an animal who understands you better than you can imagine says with a simple meow and blink of the eyes, “Life is good because we are together.”

And you know you have a friend.

Vol. 36 No. 2 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring – 2009

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