Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dewey's Nine Lives

When I was thirteen years old, my parents had my Grandma & Grandpa Trever over for supper. It was a nice evening, quiet, with cake, and while I don't remember what they gave me as a gift, because when we walked my grandparents outside, a tiny black kitten was sitting on the back step, looking up at the door. I immediately scooped the adorable little thing up and began cuddling it. Dad initially tried saying, "Absolutely not!" but how do you turn down your daughter when the kitten shows up on her birthday? And I have a wonderful dad, who despite his tough exterior has a heart of gold, and I brought her inside. I quickly named her Mackey,  partly because she purred so loudly she could be heard even in other rooms, and her whole body vibrated with the sound and I thought it sounded like a Mack truck, and a little bit because I had a crush on a character named Mackey on a short-lived television show called The Insiders.

Rover, my mom's cat was six years old and had no desire to put up with a kitten in his territory. He growled at her and she cowered under the kitchen table for a few days, and then he suddenly seemed to forget she existed. Rover was not a cuddly cat. He enjoyed falling asleep in unusual places, like the top of the fridge or on the ironing board (or on my Grandma Trever's lap; she hated cats), and he had a fierce hatred for a certain stuffed rabbit of mine. If I made the mistake of leaving it on my bed, Rover would attack it like it was his most vicious enemy. The poor thing didn't have much of a face left to it, and the ears were rather ragged, I tried to keep it safe up on a shelf. But Rover didn't cuddle. Mackey (whose name was extended to Macklynn Suzanne by my mother who has a tendency to give her pets middle names so that when she yells at them it sounds like she's yelling at one of her children) was a snuggler. She loved to be petted and rub her face along my hands all the while purring at a high volume.

Eventually I grew up and moved out, as teenagers do, and I left Mackey with my parents. Burley had joined him two years later, but he was really Dad's cat (although he won't admit that, he'll even send me an email after reading this denying it again). I petted or played with Mackey when I visited, but she just wasn't my cat anymore. Until Thanksgiving 2005. Mackey was nineteen years old, and while we were visiting at Mom's house after the meal, someone noticed that Mackey was missing. We found her in the closet of the doll room (don't ask), and it was obvious that she was dying. She couldn't walk and laid quietly on her side, breathing hard. I spent the remainder of the day at her side, stroking her still beautiful black fur and apologizing for my years of neglect. I think Mom brought her to the vet's the next day and Mackey's ashes are buried behind their house, near the woods on a beautiful flowered path.

I haven't really had a cat of my own since Mackey, and while my husband isn't a big fan, I'm hoping that someday when we have a house of our own we can have a couple of cats. I want Mia to have a relationship like that with a pet. Until then, I keep reading books like today's review.

Dewey's Nine Lives by Vicki Myron & Bret Witter is a collection of stories perfect for fans of Dewey or any animal lover. Dewey Readmore Books, the library cat from Spencer, Iowa gained international fame even before his death, but with the release of a book about his life in 2008, the author heard from cat lovers all over the world with stories of how Dewey touched their life or how their cat was special like Dewey. She read through all of these letters and chose a few to contribute to this collection of true stories of amazing cats, and there are a few more stories of Dewey for fans. I am a sucker for stories about animals, though I never read the original book about Dewey. Myron fills in new readers with enough back story to make them comfortable and want to read the first book as well! The stories of people whose lives were changed or even in some cases saved by cats are poignant, humorous, shocking, and inspiring. From Spooky who was nearly killed by an owl as a kitten then bitten by coyotes and swatted by a bear to Christmas Cat who almost drowned in a toilet on Christmas Eve and was hand fed and cared for by his non-cat-loving new owner. These are stories about real people, the ones who live on your street or in your building, and they aren't the kind stereotyped as "cat" people, but their stories are amazing. This is a feel-good read for animal lovers, and those who fell in love with Dewey's owner Vicki Myron will be glad to read about her own happy ending as well.

Thank you to Authors on the Web for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

Today's picture is of me with Rover. I'll have to find one of Mackey and post it soon!