Maggie (the cat formerly known as Matilda)

Maggie, bless her heart, is either insane or eccentric which explains why she’s my cat.

She wasn’t always my cat. Maggie and I met, I believe in October, during a class break one rainy night. It had stopped storming. The night was all foggy and glistening – a little bit eerie and a little bit comforting. It was warm for the time of the year.

My fellow students and I stood there during break, sharing thoughts and cigarettes. I felt something brush against my leg. Thinking it a moth, I brushed it away and discovered Maggie. I bent down to pet her and she ran off into the bushes.

The glimpse I had of her revealed a beautiful, long-haired, champagne colored cat. I have a weakness for both champagne and long-haired cats. My heart’s desire had always been to have an all-white, long-haired cat, but after Maggie, I think not. They say white cats are crazy more often than not.

Maggie again brushed against my leg and, again, I tried to pet her. She ran off. We did this several times before break was over and I returned to class.

When class was over, some of us returned to the outdoor ashtray to discuss research papers and an upcoming test. Maggie had returned to do the brush, bump and run. Finally, I began walking to my car.

To get to my car, I had to cross Third Avenue in Huntington which is a one-way street, three lanes wide. It gets very busy when night classes are dismissing. Seeing a break in traffic, I quickly crossed only to hear squealing brakes and honking horns. I turned to see what had happened and discovered Maggie running across the street after me. [I have a history of animals following me home  from school – once it was goose that I was afraid of.]

By this time, it’s starting to drizzle a bit. I walked through the faculty/staff parking lot and Maggie followed me, but darted away or under cars when I tried to pick her up or simply touch her. I made a last ditch effort to get her and gave up, getting into my car and leaving.

I headed down Hal Greer Blvd., another busy road, and again heard the braking and squealing and horn-honking. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I saw Maggie running the road in pursuit of my car. Saying something intelligent like “Son-of-a-bitch,” I pulled the car over and ran up and down the sidewalk and street trying to corral the cat.

The rain is beginning in earnest.

Maggie and I dance about. Again, I give up and head for my car. As soon as I opened the door, Maggie shot into the car and crawled under the seat.

Maggie is a large cat. I wouldn’t have thought she could get under there and I certainly didn’t think she could get back out. Kind of laughing and saying, to myself, something intelligent like “This is some crazy cat,” I headed for home.

By the time I hit the interstate, it was storming again. Great torrents of water slowed traffic and the defroster couldn’t keep up with the condensation forming on the inside of the window. Slowing down more and more to cope with increased loss of visibility, my nerves were beginning to be a little on edge, but I was simultaneously amused by the crazy cat under the seat.

About that time, the crazy cat under the seat, shot out from under said seat, clawed her way up my panty-hose clad leg and headed for the windshield in a giant leap worthy of a leopard bringing down a large prey.

And there she sat – on the dashboard directly in my line of vision in front of the steering wheel. I’d swat her off, she leap and sit. Swat. Leap. Sit. During all of it, there was much cursing (me) and yowling (her).

My legs were bloody shreds by the time I pulled onto my road and Maggie had conceded and was back under the seat.

My nerves were shot.

As soon as I opened the door, Maggie shot out like a cannonball and headed for the door just like she knew where she was going.

Once inside the house, we didn’t see her for close to a month. I had named her Matilda, though I don’t know why. I knew she was there – she was eating and using the litter box, but we didn’t see her.

I’d seen enough of her to know that she’d been well taken care of. Her fur was not matted, she was of a healthy weight and size, and she was flea-free. I put an ad in the paper and a few signs up at the university looking for her owner. The only response I got was from a woman who wanted to know if I was sure she was not a black cat with two white paws. (I was sure.)

As time went by, she’d eventually appear now and again. She had a tendency to yowl and she hated the dogs who hated her right back. There was a period of much broken glass in my house as they all battled for supremacy. To some extent, I think Maggie won.

Once the Ex left and Chef Boy ‘R Mine moved to Florida, I began to see more of Maggie. Little by little, she’d allow that as a human I wasn’t so bad. Eventually, her name changed to Maggie – it was clear she was no Matilda.

I think she had been abused in some fashion. She doesn’t like people, she doesn’t like to be petted, and after 7 years, she will just now sit or sleep near me. In 7 years, I have had her in my lap for a combined total of, perhaps, 3 hours.

Getting her in my lap requires catnip. She’s a stoner and a lightweight at that. 20-30 seconds with the ‘nip and she’s bombed. It’s during those times, that I get to touch her. The high wears off quickly, she comes to, glares at me and heads for the part of the room furthest from me. We have progressed, though, she will be in the same room.

She and the dogs are now friends. She spends more time in contact with the dogs than with me. She sleeps with or near them, plays with them and shares their water bowl.

She likes being in the garden with me and she likes sitting under Christmas trees. She loves tormenting the dogs and she prefers to be outside as much as possible. She is righteously pissed off about all this cold and snow, and yowls at me to make it go away. [If only I could, Maggie, if only I could.]

Like every living creature in this barn, she is Not Normal. In a few minutes I will head to bed. Maggie will follow. With much caterwauling and carrying on, she will get into the bed and settle herself at the foot of the bed in the corner furthest from me. She may, or may not, come close enough to have her butt scratched. But if she does, it will only be for a few moments before she glares at me and returns to her corner of the bed.

She doesn’t want much affection, but she has to sit on my stuff – shoes, coat, purse, laundry, books, laptop. The minute I try to touch her, she’s apt to be pissed off.

As I write this, she is perched on the exposed beams howling and carrying on like she can’t get down. We do this almost daily. And, without fail, she always gets down, glares at me, and howls until I let her outside where, due to ice, snow and cold, she will immediately want back in. We’ve been doing this in-and-out thing for weeks now.

I’m headed for bed, now, and she’ll follow, but she’ll act like she hates it.

She’s crazy or eccentric or both. However, she is far more sane than the cat I had before her. Now there’s a story. . .

12 Comments

Filed under February 2010

12 responses to “Maggie (the cat formerly known as Matilda)

  1. harpy girl

    How awesome. Have you tried luring her with valerian? It makes catnip look like a homeopathic remedy. It also smells like dirty socks.

  2. What a gorgeous cat! I love long-haired cats … I so miss my black smoke Persian, Ahrnold.

    • She is gorgeous. I just wish she was more affectionate. I still miss Alberta (Alberta, Alberta, where ya been so long – name that tune). She was an all-black, exceptionally small cat that thought she was a dog. Like I said, not a single one of the life forms in this Barn is normal.

  3. Dee

    She is truly beautiful, but I think you may have adopted a true Krazy-Kat.

  4. Mrs Beans

    I love her and I love that she’s chosen you! The story of her in the car made me grin & giggle! Only because in retrospect it all turned out ok. Nerve wracking at the time, for sure.

    I wonder about the pasts of cats that appear in my backyard and stay for a few months or even a few years. When they disappear again I’m sad and worry and wonder where they went. My husband always reassures me by saying they are somewhere warm, safe & dry now.

    • Maggie’s my second stray – the first, Shiloh, was a real nut case, but she had good reason to be. It’s an awful story, but I’m glad I was around to rescue her.

      I can’t go to the shelter because I’d bring them all home – I can barely afford the feed and vet bills for the 4 critters I have. I don’t need to start operating my own no-kill shelter though there are days when I’d like to.

  5. What a great story and what a beautiful cat! I have one that complains about the weather – Punkin. He showed up here during Hurricane Isabel with a kitten, Spook. Punk is a lover boy, Spook is, um, spooked easily. Kinda like taking Maggie and putting her in 2 cats! Hmmm, at least that would be cheaper!

    • Maggie is happier today – it’s been much warmer and she was able to spend the day outside. Of course, now she’s a wet and bedraggled cat. I’m sure she’ll yowl about that too.

      And don’t get me started on vet bills. Sheesh.

  6. White cats are batshit..I had one..his name was Asshole..Maggie sounds like a real keeper.

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