We’re fiercely defensive of our cats at Tabby’s Place.
Go ahead and call the staff gypsies, tramps and thieves. Tell us our feet smell like cheese and you don’t like the way we wear our hair. We can take it.
Just don’t insult our cats.
We’re undeniably home to many cats who are unique, unusual and beyond the pale of “safely, blandly ordinary.” If Tabby’s Place were a high school, and the cats had a big dance, it would be called the Abnormal Formal.
But if you want to turn us all into Carries, go ahead and dare to insult our oddballs.
This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. A human — let’s call him Littlebrain — will stop by, not quite knowing what Tabby’s Place is about. A staff member — let’s say a daft punk named Flangela — will gleefully give Littlebrain a tour, proudly introducing the cats we adore. After about three minutes, Littlebrain will get uncomfortable.
“Um, are these cats happy?” Littlebrain will spit skeptically. “Does that one have a good quality of life?” He’ll jerk his chin in the direction of, say, Edward. Littlebrain and his ilk make it clear, in words and winces, that they’d be much more comfortable if our cats all wore Abercrombie sweaters and marched with lockstep normalcy. When in doubt, the Littlebrains seem to say, put ’em down. By “doubt,” of course, they mean “physical oddities that make me the human uncomfortable.”
All kidding aside, I have no anger for the Littlebrains among us. Rather I feel a sort of pity. How sad that such folks can’t rejoice in the strange spark that blazes from an Edward or a Mimi. How starved they are for the joy that comes from accepting a Sinatra or a Cecille exactly as they are.
And how devastating that such a person will never behold the beauty of Brielle.
I have heard Brielle referred to by certain persons, who may or may not include certain Founders/Executive Directors of Tabby’s Place, as a “mutant.” These persons are not exactly incorrect. Nor, I’m certain, do they mean “mutant” in a negative way.
But wait a second — didn’t I say we can’t abide insults to our cats? Indeed. And “mutant” is anything but an insult. Remember that Ian McKellen played Magneto the mutant in X-Men. Patrick Stewart played Professor X the mutant in X-Men. If Gandalf and Captain Picard are mutants, I pity the fool who isn’t a mutant. I wish I was I’m glad I am a mutant.
And Brielle is undoubtedly a Gandalf-glorious, Captain Picard-suave mutant.
Her photos, I regret, do not do our little wonder justice. In addition to having perfectly round eyes and a face so cute it’s not normal, Brielle sports several special features. Her back legs are short, almost Munchkin-style. Her front legs are a bit longer, but those paws are shaped like lobster claws. And then there’s her tail.
Jonathan describes Brielle’s tail as being the same mass as other cats’ tails, simply denser. Others have compared it to a beaver tail or a canoe paddle. Whatever you call it, this stumpy stubblet is about 1/2 the length and twice the width of an ordinary tail.
And it. Is. AWESOME.
For all her idiosyncrasies, Brielle is a blithe spirit who clearly doesn’t lose sleep over not being a Cat Fancy cover model. Upon coming to Tabby’s Place, Brielle settled in almost instantly. Ah, I’m here, she seemed to say with a satisfied sigh. This will do just fine. My reign begins now.
We started our little miracle in the Tabby’s Place lobby. She made quick work of becoming only the third cat to be banished from the lobby for the crime of attempting to visit the parking lot. But I can tell Brielle is a woman with a plan who knew exactly what she was doing: she just wanted to move to the Community Room.
As fond of humans as she is of sunshine, Brielle now spends her days basking in windows, scratching cubicle walls and chirping loudly for kisses. As needed, those sunny days are also spent putting other cats in their place…particularly one other cat.
Are you ready for this? Would you like to guess which cat Brielle has successfully instructed in the ways of respecting Brielle’s authority?
First, I was afraid. (I was petrified.) It’s one thing if when Queen bites me, but she would not hurt darling little Brielle on my watch. I stood by, poised with a water spritzer to save Brielle.
It turns out Brielle is not a damsel who needs saving.
With little more than an unblinking stare and a cool air of confidence — punctuated by a raised lobster claw — Brielle sent the growling, snarling Queen slinking off in submission.
Again. And again. And again.
It just may be that no other cat has ever truly stood up to Queen. It may be that the “Queen of Mean” just doesn’t know what to do with an oddball who’s so gorgeously confident as Brielle. Whatever it is, I’m a goner for the “mutant” whose heart is as big as her poise.
Still, I can’t get entirely comfortable with the word “mutant.” (Sorry, Magneto.) I think a certain visitor put it even more accurately.
Let’s call this visitor Mirth. As she visited Tabby’s Place for the first time, Mirth was starstruck, eyes all splendorous as she met each cat. For Mirth, unlike poor blind Littlebrain, each of our cats was a world of wonder. Brielle would be the coup de grace of them all.
“Ohhhhhhhh,” Mirth swooned, tenderly cradling Brielle’s front paws. “Oh, look at you. Look at you. God made you special.”
She must have said it five more times. It was all I could do not to weep with heart-joy. God made you special.
Perhaps there are no “mutants” after all. No accidents. And surely no mistakes. There are only miracles and riches and treasures.
And in Brielle, serenely confident in her beauty, there is only the glory of a cat fully alive, fully loved, and fully who she is.