Monday, April 29, 2013

Squeaky the Cat

When I was in college I volunteered for a student run experiment that tested and showed how our senses of smell can trigger memories.  In my freshman year, some upper class girls had me smelling perfume and cologne samples while they simultaneously showed me pictures or words.  In round two of these tests, the visual cues disappeared and the young women asked me what I could recall with each scent card.  I remember they were excitedly impressed with the results I helped them compile with each of my correct answers.  I wasn't 100% accurate, but I think I did pretty well and was amazed at how memory is impacted by smell.

Fast forward to 2013.  I'm at home this weekend painting the front door when I start thinking about my old cat Squeaky.  Although he's still alive and well cared for, we've been separated for close to a decade and it was strange.  It took a while to make the connection.

Squeaky loved playing with the lizards he'd spot on the job  site. 
However, the lizards weren't in to it like he was.  This one day, he ripped off
a lizard's tail.  (When this happens, it's like with a snake and the tail still has 
life and moves.)  Squeaky wasn't sure whether he should play with the
moving tail or the lizard who was trying to escape to safety, so he took
them both on and kept bouncing back and forth until the tail stopped.

Squeaky was given to me by a neighbor back in the spring of 2002.  He'd been rescued from some desserted country road and this kind-hearted neighbor decided that I needed a pet.  Squeaky was weak and was given his name by his rescuer because the pitiful sound that came out of his mouth was more like a squeak than a meow.  We didn't think he had much of a chance.  The Fire House was complete and I was busy getting the next project ready for move-in.  The puny kitten was not going to derail my daily routine so I said, "Sure, I'll take him."  Saving houses, saving strays.  I was up for the challenge. 

Squeaky perked up quickly.  He happily lapped up the milk I set out for him and a week or so later he was crunching on cat food like a pro.  At first, The Fire House seemed a little too big for him and he slept with me.  He grew healthy and strong, but didn't fall out of the habit of curling up with me each night.  His routine was consistent, unique, and undetered. He'd hop up onto the head of the bed and wake me with the pat of his paw on my cheek.  If I didn't lift up the covers, he gently scratch my face until I did.  Once he was under the sheets, he'd cozy up to me in a little ball and when he had enough comfort/warmth he'd crawl out in the middle of night and sleep on his own until morning.  This was our drill at The Fire House and this kept on after he moved with me to The Cottage... until I went away for a weekend without him.  I took Frosty, my dog, but left Squeaky (who was more mature and independent) alone to keep an eye on The Cottage.  I guess I should have sat him down for a talk.  He was not happy and that little booger peed on me in the bed two nights in a row while I was sleeping.  Squeaky immediately became an outside cat.  We were still friends, but never slept together again.  Eventually he charmed my neighbor Charlotte and she's been spoiling him ever since. 

Squeaky hanging out with Frosty.  These two were best freinds and
Squeaky would also curl up in a ball on top her when she slept.

Back to April 2013.  I'm painting the door Sunday and being flooded with thoughts of my old buddy Squeaky the Cat.  I'm wondering why until I figure it out: my drop clothe for painting.  I placed it inside the doorway to protect the wood floors.  Squeaky used it for a litter box too.  It's splattered with paint, but I've never felt a need to wash it.  It smells like Squeaky and I don't mind.  He was a good cat. 

He got P.O.'d and I got peed on, but it's all good.  Thinking of you Squeaky.  

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