Life with Tabitha, the cat
Special to the Daily
I have the world’s only cat with entrance music. I’ve already mentioned in these pages that a couple of weeks ago we adopted a fur baby, Tabitha the Manx Cat, from the kindhearted souls at the Summit County Animal Shelter. I’ve also mentioned that Tabitha magically appears at my side whenever and wherever I start singing the old Irish folk ballad “The Last Rose of Summer” (words and music by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, for those of you who are curious).
Well, after giving Tabitha a month to acclimate herself to her new home, it seems that an update is due. And yes, whenever she hears “The Last Rose” she still immediately materializes from wherever she was, like a little grey fur-covered genie. Wonderful to relate, she refuses to recognize any other song as her entrance music.
Just to give you an idea, at bedtime the nightly ritual goes something like this:
Me: (singing) ‘Tis the last rose of summer, left bloo–
(Tabitha immediately plops herself on my chest)
Tabitha: Chirrrrrp! (Translation: “Hooray!”)
The other night while Tim and I were sitting on the sofa, we put our heads together and began to sing Tabitha’s Entrance Song in close harmony, like a couple of old-timers singing “Sweet Adeline.” She didn’t like it. She came in and cocked her head and looked at us like we were trying to pull something over on her. For some reason, this embarrassed us, and we immediately stopped singing. She chirped reproachfully at us and left the room.
Manx cats are a tail-less breed, with huge jackrabbit legs that cause them to hop when they run. They also chirp like a cricket and behave like a dog, following you from room to room and trying to elicit your attention. If you’re busy doing something, they’ll either try to help, or attempt to persuade you to leave your work and play with them instead.
Tabitha will actually stand amid her pile of cat toys and chirp disconsolately until one of us comes over and plays with her ” a heartrending and effective ploy, which results in several hours a day being spent in slithering fabric fish and rodents across the carpet, so that they may be pounced upon by a large grey cat-rabbit (or Cabbit, as Manx cats are affectionately called).
They say that when you become parents, everything starts to smell like Pablum and baby food. With us, it’s canned tuna. The pungent odor of StarKist (in water) seems to emanate from everything, even my sheet music. Tabitha herself, in the meantime, remains untouched by this, and continues to emit a faint odor resembling a cross between fresh violets and jasmine.
I know that this doesn’t make sense, but then, neither does the entrance music thing, so I let it go.
I’ve learned something else this week: Cats do not like accordion music.
When you let the air in and out of your accordion bellows, it makes a sound somewhat akin to the artificial breathing apparatus made famous by Darth Vader.
Tabitha has decided that, apparently, my accordion is indeed Lord Vader, coming to fetch her for his favorite lunch, Manx Stew.
After taking one look at the bellows, she promptly disappeared.
I told her I was working on French music for my Bastille Day gig (somehow, cats and French music seem to go together, don’t they?) but it didn’t help. While I practiced, Tabitha remained hidden, determined not to show herself until the Manx-Eating Bellows Monster had gone away.
When I finished practicing, I went into the bedroom and looked for Tabitha under the bed. She wasn’t there. Softly, I began singing “The Last Rose of Summer” ” and that’s when I noticed a wiggling, agitated lump underneath the quilt.
Tabitha was wagging her stump ” which would have been her tail, if she had one.
She poked her head out from under the covers and emitted a long, reproachful Manx chirp:
Tabitha: Chirrrrrrrrrrrrrp! (Translation: “Mommy, I don’t like that thing, but I’ll come out if you’ll put it away and get me a handful of dried bonito flakes!”)
I won’t say that cats can cure insomnia, but I must admit I love sleeping with 12 pounds of furry grey Manx on my chest. After a few hours, she’ll slide off and nuzzle herself into my arms, so that I can hold her like a teddy bear.
And yes, I know that I’m skating perilously close to those dangerous grounds of new parenthood, bragging ad nauseum about my new fur baby and telling of her exploits, thus unparalleled in the animal kingdom.
I promise, from now on I’ll try to keep all of this to a minimum.
But for a life-long, committed dog-lover, it’s quite a confession to make: I’ve fallen in love with a cat.
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