You have to be careful when choosing nicknames.
Chuck Norris is not a “Pinky.” Newt Gingrich is not a “Sparkles.” The guy from the Shticky commercial is not a “Professor.” Sluggo is not a “Twinkle Toes.”
And Jennifer Ann is not, was not, and will never be a “Jenny.”
When she first came to Tabby’s Place, it was a dark and stormy Halloween. Due to Snowtober, there was no electricity at Tabby’s Place, and so Jennifer Ann and her seven ’siblings’ had their intake exams in the dark.
Darkness became Jennifer Ann. She’d just lost her papa, and wasn’t feeling particularly grateful about getting to come to Tabby’s Place. The snarl on her tiny black-and-white face said it all: Guardian Angel Program? What <expletive> kind of <expletive> angel are you <expletives>? Angel my foot. <Expletive> you. Twice.
We mere human beans were lucky to survive Jennifer Ann’s anger. I wasn’t about to push my luck by calling her Jenny.
Because I am a Great Big Weenie and my role at Tabby’s Place puts me on the writing, rather than the cat-wrangling, end of things, I didn’t see much of Jennifer Ann during her three weeks of quarantine. I heard plenty, however: Jennifer-don’t-call-me-Jenny-Ann was consistently, colossally the worst of the Guardian Angel angels. She was old, she was bold, and she’d give you a cold, molded mustard sandwich if you looked at her the wrong way. And by “cold, molded mustard sandwich,” I mean “trip to the ICU.”
We hoped that Jennifer Ann would settle into a lighter life once leaving quarantine. I opted to talk sense to her, forgetting that my sense is nonsense to a mind like Jennifer Ann’s. C’mon, Jennifer Ann, I soothed. You’ve got it made. Sunshine and cage-free living and love and light - you will want for nothing, for all the days of your life. We love you so much, already and always. Won’t you let us love you?
Her response? If I translated those pops and hisses into English, they wouldn’t be printable in this family-friendly blog. Suffice to say: nobody was getting close to Jennifer Ann in any sense of the word, and noooooooobody was calling her Jenny.
Our black-and-white firebrand wedged her small self into the tightest cubby corner of Adoption Room #2. When Jennifer Ann found Her Corner, you could hear angels sing “Ahhhhhhhhh!” This was one of those perfect fits that songsters sing about, and sonneteers write sonnets on. Granted, this particular poetry would be more Anthrax than Jane Austen - but poetry it was, nonetheless. Jennifer Ann had found her place. The cubby, at the nexus of Adoption Room #2’s tallest tree, was the perfect place from which to accomplish three goals:
- Glaring at all visitors.
- Being poised to unleash 21 switchblades and a mouth full of knives at any moment.
- Guarding Impy.
Since her longtime housemate Impy favored the top levels of the tree, the cubby was the perfect vista from which Jennifer Ann could threaten any Impy-agitators. The much gentler Impy was nearly as scared of humans as Jennifer Ann, but she showed it by widening her eyes to saucer size and crouching in terror, no teeth involved. So it was Jennifer Ann’s job to protect her quavering comrade.
How would she do such a thing? Perhaps an analogy will suffice. Some time ago, I was invited to a “concert.” This particular musical event was a “concert” in the same way that macaroni is a “vegetable,” or removing shirt cardboards is an “extreme sport.” Striving to be a positive and encouraging human bean, I struggled, for the entire 857,000 4 hours of the “concert,” to come up with something nice to say. All I could come up with was this: “Wow! That guy was skilled at causing his guitar to make extremely unpleasant sounds at an exceptionally high volume for incredibly prolonged periods of time!” So I just mumbled something nice about the bass player’s guitar strap.
But swap “guitar” for “cat voice,” and you have a good description of our tough tuxie’s Impy Protection Plan. The screaming, squealing, spitting and popping were ceaseless, aimed at all obnoxious two-leggers who dared to approach. Jennifer Ann had a job, and she took it very seriously.
Until the day she couldn’t.
Our first sign that something was Very Wrong came when Jennifer Ann allowed us to give Impy attention. Being neurotic balls of anxiety vigilant and responsible, our staff brought this up to the vet, hoping that Jennifer Ann was just learning to relax and trust us. (Sure she was. Also, I am the Queen of Spain.) Alas, the reason for Jennifer Ann’s reasonableness was much darker: she was suddenly, shockingly in serious kidney failure.
It looked like time was short.
But Jennifer-don’t-call-me-Jenny-Ann had a few more tricks up her sleeve. Screamers don’t go quietly into that good night.
Our fearless Administrative Assistant/Cat Wrangler/Doer of Brave Things, Ginny, faced the formidable task of giving Jennifer Ann daily subcutaneous fluids. No cat particularly likes having a needle snaked under her skin, but these fluids can be a literal life-saver, life-improver and life-prolonger for cats with kidney disease. Never one to let fear of death get in the way of loving a cat, Ginny plunged into her job.
And, before we knew it, we’d all plunged into a new season of Jennifer Anndom.
At first, it seemed that Jennifer Ann’s docility at fluid-time might be a bad sign. Was she losing her fire because she was losing her battle?
Far from it.
Lo and behold, all this poking and prodding has brought out the very best in Jennifer Ann. She has a closer bond with Ginny than anyone, but, bit by bit, JenAnn is learning to let us love her. And - kidney disease be <expletived> - she’s living.
Yep, you caught that right: I said JenAnn. At last, our girl has an open heart…and a nickname all her own.
It can take some time to find the right nickname. Just ask Sean Combs/Puff Daddy/Puffy/P. Diddy/Diddy. Just ask Prince/Unpronounceable Symbol/The Artist Formerly Known As Prince/The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince/The Artist.
Just ask JenAnn. And now…she’ll let you. Probably.