The significance of Independence Day is largely lost on cats.
After all, every day is Independence Day when you’re feline.
I attempted to explain the holiday to Webster. As usual, he had a more advanced understanding than anyone else in the room (especially the human beans). Early American history is old hat to the king of cats. Our high school Social Studies teachers may have lectured on General Washington and Lafayette and all the usual Schoolhouse Rock stuff all day, but Webster gently explained to me the real explanation for our country’s independence:
“Weren’t the British wearing red coats all the time? Well…this country isn’t red. So, um…we could see them really well.”
Hmm. As usual always, Webster makes a lot of sense.
But let’s not speak of war and red apparel on this festive day. Let’s speak of fireworks. With apologies to Katy Perry, the Tabby’s Place cats define these shooting stars of awesomeness.
A certain Executive Director who shall remain unnamed, but whose name may or may not rhyme with Ronathan, didn’t know what to expect when I told him I’d be posting on “firecracker cats.” I explained, using the most politically correct and inoffensive terms possible, “you know - the nut jobs.”
Maybe Ronathan’s been spending time with Webster, because he, too, made a lot of sense in his reply: “Won’t that blog post be 800,000 pages long, then?”
Hmm. Come to think of it, there aren’t enough blogs and web pages and bytes in the world to tell the full story of all our firecrackers, if that’s how we define ‘em.
So today, let’s just pay tribute to a few of the fieriest felines working their stuff at Tabby’s Place.
Natalie is the living embodiment of a whiskered firecracker, and it has very little to do with the fact that she’s flame-orange. Kentucky-born and Jersey fresh, our last Southern belle hasn’t lost a speck of her spark in her 3+ years Casa Tabby. Some days you can moosh her. Some days you can smoosh her. And some days, she can send you to the ICU. (Very often, these are all the same day.)
Just recently, Nat recorded her explosive ways for posterity. As part of a project on feline behavior, staff and volunteers were asked to tape their interactions with particular cats. I’d volunteered to be Natalie’s human victim partner, since she’s always been one of my very favorite cats. (I can use the term “nut job” with affection, because it takes one to know one.)
One of the specific interactions we were asked to film was described thusly: “Pick up the cat (if it is safe to do so). Will the cat allow you to hold her for up to a minute?”
Is it safe to pick up Natalie? Is it safe to play Russian roulette? Is it safe to eat sushi that’s been sitting out on the counter for six hours?
It all depends on the day.
I scooped up our marmalade firework, and she immediately assured me I’d graced upon a “safe” day. Purring like a little Southern diesel engine, Nat rubbed her face against mine, cuddling up as close as she could get. It was a vision of sweetness. Well, until she screamed like a demon and bit me.
Then there’s Sluggo, our newest firecracker.
Erm…maybe firecracker is a little misleading. Sluggo is more like the many-ton barge carrying the entire Macy’s firework arsenal down the East River. As warm and glowy as the sunshine itself, Sluggo packs a lot of punch with every pop.
Those frequent “pops” you hear are Sluggo slugging down kibble (and wet food and aircraft carriers and small children).
Sluggo weighs somewhere between 23 and 570,000 pounds. He just cleared from Quarantine today, so he’s still crated in Suite C…but we’ve been warned by his pre-Tabby’s-Place place that he’s not exactly a wispy little candle around other cats. As sweet as he is with humans, it’s hard to picture Sluggo throwing his weight around with his own species…but, then again, a cherry bomb looks like a piece of candy until…
Before anyone beats me to the punch, I will be the first to confess that Webster is most definitely a firecracker feline. If, that is, you believe the dozens upon dozens of volunteers, visitors and staff unsavory and unreputable characters who have dared to suggest that he’s anything but a lovey, mooshy hug-baby. But even if he didn’t though he doesn’t ever bite or scratch or show a feisty side, Webby is every inch a work of art…and fire. The heart of a warrior burns and blazes within this cat who has known so much loss, yet gone on to accept and lavish so much love. No Roman candle ever lit the sky with as much glory as Webster brings his universe.
Gingko echoes a blazing starburst with his crown of spiky hair. Terrance evokes a perfect bomb-burst with perfectly (big, giant) round head. I could go on. Cecille, Edward, Twix, Gabriella, Jenny, all those kittens…we have no shortage of (legal) fireworks at Tabby’s Place.
So what makes a firecracker cat? Is it the invincible spark that keeps them living and loving (and, in certain fiery cases, launching themselves upon us teeth-first) despite what they’ve endured? Is it the unpredictable fire that reminds us they are good but not tame? Is it the glorious independence that freely chooses to bless us with their love and loyalty?
Tonight, I pity the madding crowds in New York, Washington, D.C., Philly, and anywhere else people swarm to see sparkly things lighting the sky. They don’t know what they’re missing - we’ve got the wildest, most wonderful collection of bombshells and sparklers on earth right here in Ringoes.
Happy, fiery, phenomenal Fourth, Felis Catus fam. You are some of my favorite firecracker humans (and it takes one to know one :-)).