Under the strawberry moon

Under the strawberry moon

26839151103_4834c97bd9_zFriends who are teachers tell me: the full moon phenomenon is full-stop truth. Small people get hugely bananas under a grinning round glowball.

Friends who work at Tabby’s Place agree: small and large and colossal cats are no different.

Jackie, the awesome, aggressive epitome of an old-school Shelter X cat.
Jackie, the awesome, aggressive epitome of an old-school Shelter X cat.

So it makes all sorts of sense that an extra-special, seldom-seen, summer-starting strawberry moon would make for megadoses of feline madness.

And that may be the last thing in this post that makes sense.

Four of our newest residents can illustrate the full moon phenomenon quite nicely maniacally.

When new cats arrive at Tabby’s Place, they spend their first three weeks in Quarantine. Being the lowly Development Director, I don’t generally get to meet new residents until their post-Quarantine suite debut. So, as you can imagine, I am exceptionally irritating exuberantly curious with my questions for front-line staffers.

“What are they like?” I chirp. “I saw a white one through the cage bars. And a grey one. And a big one! Grey! Big! Him heap strong!”

Patient coworkers pity my foolery and answer simply: “They’re classic Shelter X Cats.”

That answer makes me tremble. Sure enough, our grizzled team bares their arms to boast new scars.

“Shelter X”, as we’ll call it, is a hard-working, big-hearted public shelter in North Jersey. We like the people at this shelter. We respect them. We admire them. We think only good thoughts of them.

"'Duchess?' Seriously, Angela? Say 'Empress.' Say 'Her Eminence.' Say it now."
“‘Duchess?’ Seriously, Angela? Say ‘Empress.’ Say ‘Her Eminence.’ Say it now.”

We’re starting to think the feeling isn’t mutual.

We’re also starting to call said shelter The Shelter of Ill Repute. Consider some of the cats they’ve chosen for us over the years:

And now these four.
It’s a pity the band name 10,000 Maniacs was already taken.

Don’t misunderstand me, bonitos. These have been spectacular cats. We’ve loved each of these cats. We’ve cherished each one as a unique timeless treasure.

And we’ve lost collective pints of blood to their teeth.

Now back to the four fine specimens at hand.

Leah exists in a perpetual state of mild outrage. She can’t believe it’s not butter. She can’t believe she has to live in a world where people are excited about breadstick sandwiches. (Clearly this is the seventh circle of hell, dies irae.) She can’t believe you’re going to wear that. She can’t believe a creature of her stature must slum in Suite B with schlubs like Spumoni.

Leah is a complicated little duchess. She may look like Jackie, and she may bite like Jackie, but she’ll also love you with the sweetest Shirley Temple smile you’ve ever seen. Leah is the Mona Lisa burst free from the frame, all kinds of complex and perfectly at home in her snow-white fur.

A big, beautiful briquette of Charcoal.
A big, beautiful briquette of Charcoal.

We love her as she is.

Charcoal, on the other hand, is a smiling orb of a cat. She’s certain that this is the best of all possible worlds, as proven by the existence of breadstick sandwiches. Accordingly, Charcoal lives in Suite C. (C, as y’all know, is for Colossal. That’s good enough for Charcoal.) Charcoal is the outlier of the quartet, friendly and comfortably casual and unconcerned with keeping up appearances. Cuddly Charcoal is, unshockingly, already spoken for.

We love her as she is.

Misty is the most mysterious member of the squad. On paper, her age is a mere three years old, but she’ll be danged if she’s not going to enjoy old age a little early. Misty’s not going to Forever 21 when she can choose Chico’s. Let Leah hit da club. Misty wants to watch DWTS reruns in her Snuggie. If she’s feeling wild, later she’ll listen to that hot new band everyone’s talking about, Bon Jovi.

Maybe Misty’s age confusion is part of her character confusion. Our lovely-faced girl goes from angel to ragemonster in a flash. She legitimately frightened our hard-to-scare staff back in Quarantine, and while there are signs of mellowing in Suite B, we’re still proceeding with caution. This is a piranha in a pantsuit. Sometimes. And other times, she’s a grand giver of great love.

Misty mountain lady, we're at your service. And slightly scared.
Misty mountain lady, we’re at your service. And slightly scared.

We love her as she is.

Finally, there’s Swiffer. If you’re half the dunderhead I am, this fabulous name has already etched an image onto your brain of a long-haired mop of a cat. Imagine my surprise when I saw a short-haired, clean-cut character.

Then again, picture a Swiffer: it’s a cottony white pad, as far from a mop as a breadstick sandwich is from a sprout.

Although our boy may be aptly-named, he’s a bit inept at finding his footing among us. Swiffer, in the days of Quarantine, was the scariest Shelter X emigre. I’ve heard it told that he would heave himself against the cage bars with such force, they felt aftershocks in Indianapolis.* The cause of his rage?

Humans…in the room.

Swiffer screamed and moshed and seemed to shoot forth teeth like a thousand flying nunchucks. Swiffer was the most dangerous cleaning implement ever created.

And then Swiffer moved to Suite B.

There are no discounts at Target on this stellar Swiffer.
There are no discounts at Target on this stellar Swiffer.

Either something changed, or perhaps Swiffer just scared himself, because this big baby is no menace to society. Eyes eternally wide, Swiffer seems to dangle in a state of confusion. Wherever he is, he’s not quite sure how he got there or what to expect nest. He’ll sweep out to the solarium, only to stare around in bewilderment. What is a solarium? What is a Faye? Who am I? Why do fools fall in love? Then it’s back to the suite, where things are just more confusing. His thoughts race behind his wondering gaze. What is a suite? Walls are who? How do I fix the deficit?

It’s hard to bite when you’re working this hard to work out your wonderings.
Hard, but not impossible.

And, of course, we love him as he is.

So, yes; the Shelter X sweethearts du jour are, in some ways, classic Shelter X cats. Even as the full strawberry moon wanes, their wondrous weirdness is on full blast.

They have much to teach us in their quirks and confidence.
We have much to learn, much to love.
And while Shelter X may be glad to bid this batch adieu, the truth is plain: we’re the lucky ones.
Welcome to Tabby’s Place, strawberry moon squad.

*And that’s an actual fact, except that I made it up.

1 thought on “Under the strawberry moon

Leave a Reply