Kitty LeFey’s Cosmos: The Fairy Tail

Kitty LeFey’s Cosmos: The Fairy Tail

Her name is Nola, not Lola (Lola lives in Medical with Angelo, but hers is another story). Nola is not a showgirl. She’s a Tabby’s Place cat. Yellow feathers are present only as accessories to cat toys. She refuses to wear any dresses no matter where they are cut down to. Neither will she merengue nor cha-cha. Besides, Nola is already an absolute star – no trying necessary.

Rehashing Barry Manilow song lyrics is insufficient to the task of telling this tale. Nola deserves her very own songs. In fact, she deserves all of the marching bands, every zydeco rhythm, and every frozen Hurricane (of course from Pat O’Brien’s in their signature glasses) that New Orleans, Louisiana (the other NOLA) has to offer.

Nola is Tabby’s Place’s own atmospheric phenomenon, but not in the way of hurricanes. Her internal environment seems to be high intensity. So, we strive to ensure her external environment remains a low pressure system, even if her roommate Atari appears indifferent.

The amazing Ilene, spectacular event coordinator (and everything else), very long-term volunteer, and extravagantly kind individual, shared some tips for connecting with this shy, grey and white tuxedo. The secret? Sit at a distance, use slow blinks to great effect, talk softly…and change the lyrics to one of The Kinks songs to softly sing to Nola. A soft ballad played very low on Ilene’s cell phone further proves that “music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” 

While Ilene is determined to make Nola her friend, the outrageously wonderful Cathy, another long-term volunteer, fabulous feeder, sweet suite cleaner, and overall marvelous individual is on her way down that path too. Taking advantage of early morning feedings, Cathy frequently talks quietly with Nola. Rewarded for her patience, Cathy is now allowed to place food dishes quite near Nola with neither comment (hiss) nor swat, and she is shown no signs of the inner turmoil and fear that the noises and activities of each day bring out in this sweet kitty.

Following their lead, I’m hopping on the bandwagon (Softly. Softly). It is soothing to two creatures’ savage breasts to sit quietly and blink at each other, while one of us sings altered lyrics of a Weird Al Yankovic song, which features altered lyrics to The Kinks song that Ilene sings. The words don’t matter. The interaction is everything. [It would probably sound better if Nola did the singing, but she wasn’t around in the 1980s to learn the lyrics. Waiting for the right time to bring in a boombox.]

With encouragement, guidance, and background information from Behavior Team Leader and superlatively marvelous staffer Carolyn, we are well on our way to helping Nola find personal peace by providing a more peaceful, safe-feeling environment for her. Safe-feeling is key. We know that Nola is very safe at Tabby’s Place. Explaining that to her, however, is the challenge. With enough of us sharing blinks, yawns, space (not too near), and songs, we know we can help her understand.

Future understanding aside, the best part is that we already have one happy ending (unlike that Barry Manilow song) to this story. That happened on the day that Nola came to Tabby’s Place: Once a Tabby’s Place cat, always a Tabby’s Place cat. She has been with us for a while now, but we’re ending 2023 with another new beginning for her and for us by working more conscientiously together to help her become more comfortable. The longer version of this tale of our journey together – no matter how long it takes, no matter when she finds her forever home – is that this cat, who is sweeter than the scent of magnolias in June, is already the stuff of song. Besides, Nola is, in fact, all of the songs, every dance, a wardrobe of glittery dresses, each yellow, fluttery feather, and the star of the biggest show. All of that combined translates into one great big fairy tail ending: Happily Ever After!! (Softly. Softly.)

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