Author: Howard Buchin The Write Place
Howard Buchin works for Canada Post. He has 2 cats, Dinah and Willie,
who make life very interesting.
I say it’s unlikely that anyone who reads this account would be able to describe a pet so totally eccentric and zany as the one we adopted twelve years ago and named Dinah. Perhaps, more appropriately, she should have been named Dinah-mite. There’s a lot of energy packed into her seven and a half pounds. She is light beige, a champagne colour. Picture a little round face which is a shade of darker brown. As far as personality goes, she’s an endearing soul except for the fact that she’s demanding. It’s hard to understand how she can be peculiar and comical and also so irritating. To her credit, this critter has allowed us to share the house with her for over twelve years. My wife and I love her very much in spite of the obvious character flaws. They say good things come in small packages. With Dinah, it’s more a matter of one small package filled with both good and bad things.
When we first adopted her, Dinah was less than seven weeks old. Right away we could tell our new pet was unique. During the ride home with Dinah in tow in the front seat, she found a couple of onion bits that had fallen from my pizza slice and began to munch on them.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only weird eating habit she had. Besides Cheesies and jalapeno corn chips, she also enjoys nibbling socks, sweaters, Gundt bears, gloves and blankets. One time we even found an office chair had been chewed along the backrest. One day, a coke tin was mysteriously leaking from little teeth marks in its side.
It does appear that Dinah has a real streak of bad behaviour. She is cute and loving in nature, and certainly loves her people. She can be found most nights parked under my chin and only inches away from my nose. we regularly cosy up on the couch. Other times, she digs away at my wife’s blanket in order to get underneath.
Dinah and her shenanigans have wrought her fair share of havoc and destruction in the house. Three Raku pottery figures have been damaged- victims of collisions with the cat. A Birks anniversary clock and a painting have been bumped off the shelf and off the wall. She ate the front of an expensive sweater leaving a four inch gouge. Nancy was not amused, but didn’t stay mad for very long. It’s hard to be angry when you have a cute face looking up at you as if asking, “Did I do something wrong?” Learning to accept the unacceptable hasn’t been easy. Dealing with Dinah’s trespasses while keeping cool has taken us some time.
Once, I received a call from my wife sounding frantic on the other end, telling me to come home quickly because Dinah was lodged behind the fridge. Nancy couldn’t get her out. When she was small she’d flatten herself against the floor and slip beneath the stove or some other space under a door. Her jumping abilities have really been something to see. Dinah had a habit of launching herself up onto our chests when the feeling overtook her.
When Willie, our other cat, got sick, he had to spend two nights at the vet’s, Dinah would not allow him to cross her path for two weeks without growling at him. It was as if she didn’t know who he was anymore.
We have often wondered if some of her problems had to do with adopting her at too early an age and having taken her from her mother too soon. During the first two years of her life with us, she would regularly wean upon our Willie’s belly. Being an accommodating beast, Willie allowed for it. On our second visit to the vet, we told him about her unusual habits. He explained that Burmese cats are known for some of these behaviours.
The Burmese is a short-haired breed that originated with one individual animal, Wong Mau, who was brought to the United States from Burma in 1930. Wong Mau (as I understand it) was for the most part, a Siamese cat. The doctor who brought her here liked her features very much. He decided that he would develop a new breed of cats and called them “Burmese”.
The story goes that all Burmese are traceable back to Wong Mau. A variety of Siamese cat, they are known for having a muscular build and golden eyes. They exhibit a variety of colours: brown (champagne), beige, platinum and blue. They have rounded heads and are surprisingly heavy for their size. I found that the Burmese descriptions I read didn’t match very well with our Dinah. “The Burmese is a calm and adaptable breed of cat with a quiet voice” is one official characterization. Dinah’s meows are more like screeches which rise in volume until someone picks her up. As far as adapting goes, we are the ones who have had to adapt, not she.
Dinah is loud and bossy, but it seems to calm her when I play classical music. She certainly has grit for her size. Last summer when a Siberian husky jumped the fence, he opened the door to the cage where Willie and Dinah were sunning themselves. Dinah stood her ground in the cage while growling and snarling at the large intruder. Willie, meanwhile had hightailed it to the nearest fence he could climb.
I hope I’ve acquainted you with the wonders of our little cat. To those of you who might be thinking of adopting a Burmese, I would ask that you take some time and ponder your readiness to accept everything about these little cute packages since they will become a major factor in your life.
Poem for Willie
A Tribute to My Tabby
So sweet a nature in a cat that I will ever find.
He brightened up the days,
Always ready to play with things
And worries few he never seemed to mind.
My Willie was so special that it's hard for me to say
How much I really loved him,
Just a little more each passing day.
A nature like no other of ANY pussy-cat I'd known,
Now that he's gone I feel quite sad,
Not having him purr and meow "Hello",
His kindness missed so much.
I could never find another cat with as much love
As he's had for everyone he's known.
Read and hear more stories by Howard Buchin
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