Best Friend and the Boos

Suzanne Law

© Copyright 2005 by Suzanne Law


     Our three “Boos” (perfect examples of feline-ness as they were) couldn’t figure out exactly how to react!  He was such an ALLEY CAT!  Short of open hostility, the Boos flicked their pretty pedigreed tails in exasperation at the annoying youngster.

     “What in the world is he doing here?” they puzzled.  “He’s nothing like us!  His hair is so short, his tail so skinny---not to mention those scary green eyes (as opposed to our beautiful ‘blues’)!  And those boring gray stripes and splotchy white belly!  Why, he’s nothing but an…an…ALLEY CAT!”

However, in spite of their initial shock, soon the tiniest Boo, “Itsy Bitsy”, broke rank.  She shyly purred and rubbed up against the mysterious visitor.  At last, somebody her age (eight weeks) to play with!  Before we knew it, Itsy had offered the nervous newcomer her favorite kitty pillow, and the two had cuddled up for an afternoon nap.  Surely this strange little kitten would be the tiniest Boo’s very own “best friend”.  And  “Best Friend” he was from that day forward!

     You may be wondering how I, a dyed-in-the-wool lover of the pure breed cat---indeed, a bit snooty on the subject, ended up with Best Friend.  (Sometimes I wonder myself!).  At the time though, it seemed to make sense.

     One rainy afternoon in April, a girlfriend of mine called, needing to find a home for a scrawny kitten she’d found in her barn.  “Suzanne, he’s a great little guy!” she enthused.  (All cats are “great” whom you are trying to unload on someone else.)  “He would make a wonderful companion for Itsy Bitsy Boo.”

     It was true that Itsy had been very lonely lately, particularly as she was growing into the why-won’t-anybody-play-with-me stage.  Itsy’s mother, “Bippity Boppity Boo”, was one of the few cats I’ve known who had had absolutely no milk to feed her young.  So after a very normal delivery, Bippity  protectively stayed with her three newborns, and they appeared to be nursing.  It was not until two of the babies died that I realized their mother was “milkless”!  However, the third kitten, Itsy Bitsy Boo, was a scrappy and tenacious survivor, and by bottle feeding her with kitten milk replacer every two hours, she soon began to thrive.

     Unfortunately though, as Itsy grew to full-fledged kittenhood, her “lone ranger” status caused her much consternation.  Bippity half-heartedly played with her rambunctious daughter, but it was obvious that Itsy was longing for a good romp with a brother or sister her own age.  The solution?  Who else?  Best Friend, of course!

     In no time the unlikely pair were inseparable.  They “kitty-wrestled” for hours, played tag up the cat tree, and chased their favorite “mousie” toys together, finally collapsing on the kitty pillow, bodies intertwined, sleeping blissfully, as only cats do.

     Although eventually accepted by all the Boos as part of the gang, Best Friend was his own cat.  He quickly learned to “fetch and retrieve” his special mousie toy, and would play that game as long as my husband, Don, would toss it for him.  The Boos were a bit “put off” by this strange behavior.  Wasn’t fetching supposed to be a “dog thing”?  If any of the Boos came too close to Best Friend’s mousie, he would growl in warning, a jungle tiger establishing his territory.

     “Fetch and retrieve” was by no means Best Friend’s only claim to fame.  From the get-go, we discovered that our little alley cat was a fanatic music lover, almost to the point of obsession!  From the first day he came to us, the Boos and I were thoroughly startled by the newcomer’s amazing vocalizations!

     “Yeow-ow-ow-ow-mee-ow!”  “Cry Me a River” was the tune that came to mind.  However, as Best Friend has settled in, deciding that he has found his “forever” home at last, his “meows” have turned into downright joyous “purr-rr-rrs”, as he often hums a few bars of “Home on the Range”.

     Not only a remarkable singer, Best Friend has developed quite an ear for music as well.  This he often demonstrates when he joins me on the piano bench cushion.

     For many years I have been a teacher of singing.  Each day several aspiring young Pavarottis come to my studio to belt out a variety of tunes---everything from “My Fair Lady” to Puccini arias.  Best Friend insists upon contributing to the experience as “music critic emeritus”.  He perches on the bench next to me in rapt attention.  He takes in the trills and warbles---wincing occasionally at a sour note---but in general enjoying the efforts of the enthusiastic singers.

     It’s not that the Boos are completely devoid of music appreciation.  It’s just that they prefer to soak up their culture in a different way---that is, staring up for hours at the cage of “Callie”, our lovely canary, attentively listening to her glorious songs.  The more Callie whistles and sings, the greater those Boos’ musical education. (Although I’m not altogether sure that it’s Callie’s marvelous singing which preoccupies those pedigreed pets!) At any rate, several weeks after Best Friend came to us, he began to leave Itsy sleeping solo on the kitty pillow each night, in favor of snoozing on the piano bench cushion, in order not to miss the arrival of a possible early morning student.

     It was this slightly kooky habit that turned our quirky kitty into a bona fide hero cat!  Late one stormy night about six months ago, unexpected trouble interrupted Best Friend as he was catching some “z’s” on the piano bench.  For the past month, a lone “cat burglar” had been helping himself to valuables in several houses in our neighborhood.  And now the thief had chosen our house as his target!

     Don and I were sleeping soundly upstairs when we were abruptly awakened by a loud crashing chord on the piano.  We ran downstairs to witness the terrified burglar leaping back through the open window of the studio, trying for a quick escape.

     And there, holding a magnificent pose, front paws striking Middle C, back paws an octave lower, was Best Friend, right on top of the piano!  Startled by the sleazy pilferer, the quick-thinking cat had leapt from his spot on the bench, landing squarely on the keyboard.  Without a doubt he planned to serenade the visitor with a lively version of “Kitten on the Keys”!

     What about the Boos (you’re probably thinking)?  Were they assisting in the heroics?  Not exactly.  Those timid little turncoats were hiding under the couch, the dining table, and behind the TV, of course.  The Boos had no stomach for police work!  If the day was to be saved, it was Best Friend who was going to have to do the saving.

     The savvy alley cat did not disappoint.  What a boy!  His talent on the keyboard was “instrumental” in leading to the capture of our “most wanted”.  In fact, the miscreant was apprehended by the authorities not far away that very night, and Best Friend was hailed as a hero cat by one and all.  Don and I were so excited that we couldn’t resist breaking into a rousing chorus of “Happy Days are Here Again”.  Of course, Best Friend “meow-ow-ow-owed” right along with us, while the jealous Boos looked on in irritation.

     “What is the big deal?” they pouted nastily.  “Why is that…that…ALLEY CAT getting all the attention?”  Except for Itsy Bitsy Boo, of course.  She loved Best Friend and no alley cat “kookiness” was going to change her mind.

     The proof of that particular pudding was not long in coming.  Three months later I took Itsy eighty miles down the pike for the purpose of breeding to a purebred of unquestionable repute.  “Emmett” is a Grand Champion with a penchant for siring gorgeous offspring.  However, a week later, Emmett’s owner informed me that Itsy showed no interest in the Champion, and perhaps the time for breeding was not quite right.

     That turned out to be an understatement!  Four weeks later, Itsy gave birth to two little “Best Friend Boos”!  Unlike her mom, Itsy was blessed with abundant milk, and both kittens are now coming along beautifully.

     I’m sure we could sell them for a pretty penny.  (After all, what could be better than a couple of lovely blue-eyed, gray-striped crosses between a Best Friend and a Boo?)  On the other hand, six would make a sextet, just in case our hero alley cat’s singing prowess rubs off on the others.

     I can practically hear it now, in glorious “meow-able” harmony.  “Yeow-ow-ow-meow,” as the fabulous feline sextet serenades, lurking beneath the cage of that musical virtuoso herself, Callie, the canary.  (To be a good sport, Callie would undoubtedly add her own descant.)  I can just picture those Boos, that Best Friend, and those Best Friend Boos, all licking their chops in hopeful anticipation as they meow out a lively rendition of the classic, “Bye Bye Birdie”!  One thing is certain.  Life is sure to take some interesting twists when a spunky little alley cat moves in with a few good Boos!

As mentioned in the story, I am a private voice teacher, and have been for thirty-five years.  I also write for fun and relaxation.  I have actually sold a few non-fiction pieces in years past, and won an occasional fiction competition.

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