Pandora's Rumpy Riser

Judith Nakken

© Copyright 2002 by Judith Nakken

I fell in love with a neighbor’s cat down in Oregon. It was peach-colored and to my uneducated eyes resembled nothing so much as a cross between a cat and a rabbit. Josephine was a Manx, her no-tail classified a Rumpy Riser, and I broke most of the coveting commandments while I lived next door. I determined that the first pet of my life would be just like Josephine.

Moved to Washington State, I searched and studied. A nine-pound cat book told me how to train, doctor and appreciate kittens. Give her a name with at least three syllables, it said. Spend two or three of your first days together with the kitten on your lap, petting and repeating the name. Pet and repeat the name, over and over, it instructed me. She’ll come when called when this imprinting is done, it promised.

The Manx Lady returned my call. "There’s no single color peach or orange in this batch," she said. "But I have a little girl tabby, orange and a Rumpy Riser." Two out of three of my prerequisites seemed reasonable. I went to look, fell in love, and waited five weeks for Pandora (three syllables) to come home.

Home was my new dream house, surrounded by century-old trees and a hundred feet of deck that faced breathtaking views. The eclectic furnishings of my life sat unfamiliarly around eleventeen boxes of books when I went to pick up the just-weaned kitten. I prepared a little cat pan with gentle litter and tied it with a pink ribbon. A low, double food dish in pink ceramic waited for water and little kitty-o’s.

She loved it all! I put her in the cat pan as soon as we came into the house so she’d know where it was. Dainty, she stepped out and admonished me. Yes, I know. I will. Don’t worry. She picked appreciatively at warmly moistened kitten food and looked for a place to nap. In my lap on the sun-warmed deck we began the imprinting of her name.

Pandora. Pandora. I petted and crooned. We spent every waking moment together for two full days. Pandora. The third day she raced to the sound of her name each time it was called. On the fifth day, my daughter-in-law visited.

"You’ve got egg on your face again, Ma," she chortled. "First of all, see this?" She wiggled Pandora’s knob of a tail. "If it moves at all, it’s a Stumpy."

"Secondly, see these?" She gestured rudely in the direction of the infant’s nether regions. "This cat is a boy." She was 110% certain, and was never wrong about anything. What to do? My little tomcat responded to a feminine name.

I pondered. The dictionary wasn’t unpacked. Under pressure, I could think of only two words that might sound enough like the name imprinted in his diminutive brain.

Ruling out Pandemic for obvious reasons, I picked up the kitten and made our way to the rocker out in the sunshine. He waggled his teeny stump and purred at the top of his tiny lungs as I crooned to him. Pandemonium. Pandemonium.

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