Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy 20th birthday, Tara

Since I am apparently the last person on the internets without a camera, I haven't participated in the fine activity of catblogging. Today is a special day, though, because Tara (pronounced tar-ra) turns 20 years old. We don't have many good pictures of Tara - this one is from a few Christmases back.

We have been fortunate to have had two cats reach the 20-year milestone. Maltese, our male, turned 20 in 2005, and was only five weeks short of his 21st birthday when he passed away. Now we have Tara celebrating 20 years.

Tara was only six weeks old when her litter appeared in an ad for "Free Kittens". The kittens were out in the garage where their mother had given birth to them. Five kittens were desperately trying to get our attention, all looking super cute, as if they were saying "Pick me! Pick me!" Then, from underneath a motorcycle comes a tiny, squalling, greasy furball. She walked up to Mrs. S., then looked her squarely in the eye and hissed at her. My wife then said, "I like her attitude. I want her." Of course, Tara believes she is of royal parentage and refuses to acknowledge such humble beginnings.

As it turned out, Tara would need that attitude in our house. She grew up to be mostly hair, and she never weighed more than six pounds. Our other two cats, Maltese and Desiree, grew to be 15 pounds apiece, and after we moved into a house, Tara also had to contend with two German Shepherds and two Rottweilers. Tara compensated by developing the loudest, most insistent mouth in the family. Early on, she figured out to sharply meow constantly until her needs were met.

Tara also became the quickest and most agile of the family. One of her favorite pastimes as a youngster was climbing up and walking on the curtain rods like a high wire. For years, she would like to ride on my shoulders, looking down upon the rest to remind them that they couldn't do that. She could outrun anyone in the house, though the dogs never bothered the cats much. Her biggest troubles would come from Desiree. They would engage in noisy catfights at all hours, frequently ending with Tara scampering away at top speed, and Desiree emerging with a mouthful of Tara's hair.

Tara's old mates are all gone now, and her only companionship besides us is a six-month old cockatiel named Thalia, who Tara looks down upon with exasperation and bemusement. She looks at Thalia as though she can't quite figure out the alien ways of a bird, and at this point in her life she has no particular desire to learn. Tara's curtain rod days are over as well. She spends most of her time nowadays sunning herself on her perch in the dining room window, where she has a panoramic view of Pole Hill, with the flowers, birds, and other critters. The rest of the time she spends napping on the couch, where she is disappointed if her Mom doesn't join her. When Mrs. S. is up and about in the house, Tara frequently chases after her, smacking my wife's ankles with her paws to try to get her to lay down so they can cuddle.

We plan a day of many ear scratches and chin rubs, and many reminders of how beautiful she is. Being told that she's beautiful is Tara's favorite compliment. For supper tonight, we'll have Tara's favorite meal, Kentucky Fried Chicken, before eventually laying down for more cuddling.

Happy birthday, Tara!