Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pet Cards

I recently acquired a tarot deck for my collection called Tarot Cards for Cats illustrated by Kipling West. West’s cats look like pleasant, approachable and intelligent creatures. This got me thinking about my own cats and tarot. My cats are not always the storybook kind but there is a card for each of them.

Alice, a dramatically marked Maine Coon of the “fat crayon” variety and the biggest, toughest creature in the house, is extraverted and mild mannered despite her nickname "Alice Malice". Alice came to us one Christmas season when she wandered into a friend’s house during a party; the friend was highly allergic to cats, so her humans rescued everyone involved and brought her home. Alice's favorite toys are full boxes of tissues, Tinkertoys and her siblings who aren't as happy about being prey animals as Alice thinks. She is paws-down the Alpha Cat in the house and her reign is a relatively mild and optimistic one since her purpose in life is to luxuriate at all costs. She is fond of her spa time when her humans are in the shower and can be found spread out upon the bathmat. At nearly 25 lbs, she is an enthusiastic eater. Alice loves the cocker spaniel, giving him spontaneous hugs, baths and other nervously unrequited attentions. Alice is a catnip lover, a connoisseur of blends from exotic places. She is also a bird-lover, attracted to all things musical. In her own contribution to the musical world, she is the loudest snorer in the family, even snoring while awake at times. Often others will remark on the little flute-like noises she makes. She prefers to sleep at the top of the cat tower or, basically, anywhere she likes. She adores men, especially her male human, often alighting with delight (hers) in his lap. Alice is very best friends with the only male member of the cat cast, Tony, who approaches but cannot match her weight. Alice's dream is to be a spa resort spokesmodel and to lounge by the water; she would also enjoy learning to bowl. An 8-lb ball should be about right. Alice's card is the Queen of Pentacles.

Peepers, a pale Siamese-ish 9 lb “alley point" with striking blue eyes, is a shy girl prone to snooze in linen closets. She came to her home as a beach bunny from the Seal Beach Animal Shelter after her previous owner was unable to care for her. A cat of discriminating tastes, she bit the first interested prospective caretaker before surrendering herself into purrs in her current owner’s hands during the interview. She has become quite a lap-kitty in her maturity, a pleasant change from her originally self-imposed isolationist stance, but likely one of a practical nature as most laps in the house are warm. Peeps, as she is known within the family, seeks balance in life including retribution for wrongs done to others. A few years ago, when Binket was a kitten, the kitten squalled when she got stuck at the door. Peepers flew out of hiding and promptly beat the dickens out of the dog, an innocent bystander unjustly accused of abuse. To avoid further fallout from this traumatic incident, we have never told Peeps that it was in fact her male human who had made the baby cry. Peepers’ favorite toys are those which are sparkly and crackly, lightweight and easily lost. In her heart of hearts, Peepers would rather be an only cat of a quiet, elderly, dogless couple in a home with light-blocking window treatments and plenty of linen closets. One of her principal forms of communication is through her tail, which can assume the pose of a question mark when curious, can lash like a whip at the guilty and can point at right angles to an empty food dish to alert authorities to an imbalance in the distribution of resources. Peepers' card is Justice.

Eleanor a/k/a Ellie and Elly-Belly is a sensitive 5 lb touch-me-not with a very feminine long black and white tuxedo coat with no undercoat. She hails from the Benicia-Vallejo Humane Society. She is the most vocal of the five cats. There are several deep-seated reasons for this. One, her previous owners had her declawed and so, being defenseless, she screams at just about anything. If you are familiar with the Warner Bros cartoon character Pepe LePew and his very, very reluctant girlfriend, Ellie is that girlfriend. In spite of her declawed state, Ellie is voted most likely to slip out the door to explore the back yard although she is easily captured or convinced to return to the safety of the house. Two, whether it is her own kitty-psychology or some pheromone phenomenon, Ellie is the Omega Cat. All the other cats recognize her less-than-zero status and will either chase her until she screams or in rarer event drag her around like a well-loved teddy bear. Ellie loves the cocker spaniel also. However this love is spurned by the usually generous and patient dog who will at most greet her purring and rolling with a soft low rumble of warning to stop doing that before everyone is embarrassed. Ellie also adores her male human, usually standing solidly on his torso, kneading his tummy in ecstasy with her tail closest to his face. Last, and certainly not least, Ellie has the oft-remarked-upon habit of leaving a strong-scented “perfume” reminder on objects made of soft cloth or comfortable pillows in the night. For her consistent role of self-imposed victimization, Ellie’s card is the Eight of Swords.

Binket is a hardy 7 lb short-haired calico with an in-your-face temperament and no respect for authority. Dubbed “No No Bad Cat” by her ever-patient humans, she spent much of her youth trying to catch paper going into or coming out of personal printers and running up the antique quilt (now in shreds) which used to hang on the wall just to prove her cleverness. Binket came to us from a cat rescue group in southern California complete with a roaring case of ringworm which she shared with the entire family before all were cured. Despite her physical beauty and diminutive size, she is a ferocious gladiator in her plan for world dominance. Voted least likely to become a lap cat, Binket does have a soft side, one she views with obvious discomfort. Ellie is her favorite friend, due in large part to their immediate acknowledgement of dominance and submission. Binket relies on Ellie’s superior fashion sense and grooming while Ellie fawns over Binket’s talent for cruelty and torture. Binket and Ellie can often be found companionably snoozing in a large basket in a sunny window when Binket isn’t mopping up the floor with the ever-willing Ellie. Binket has a soft spot for any small puffy thing resembling a cotton ball usually called Puff Baby in various incarnations. She fancies herself a romance-thriller writer and will play out scenes where Puff Baby is in terrible danger, lost under a door perhaps, and in need of rescue. She is perhaps working out some of the trauma of her kittenhood having been rescued from the Boeing plant in her youth. And a romantic she is, for she adores without reservation the cocker spaniel, often cooing to him, rubbing herself on him and otherwise seducing the equally smitten yet polite dog with her charms. She and the dog are the inter-species scandal of the neighborhood. Binket’s dark side is most clearly demonstrated by harboring an intense hatred of the much larger, much slower and good-natured Tony. She expends much energy attempting to kill him. Formerly the Alpha Cat, she was forced to give way to the sheer weight and superior strength of Mighty Alice, but hatches plots daily to recoup her throne. For reasons that should be obvious, Binket’s card is The Devil.

Tony is an unsuspecting dark mackerel tabby of 15 lbs. Tony came to us from the Benicia-Vallejo Humane Society when his owner made a fateful side-trip on her way to a rugby game. Tony’s big heart and affectionate manner would melt even the heart of a rugby team owner. A lookalike for B. Kliban’s Cat, Tony has a smallish head with a smallish brain to match, green eyes (one of which has a stripe), a large pendulous butter-colored abdomen, small feet and a heart of gold. Curious about his unusual shape, more turtle-like than cat-like in some ways, his humans consulted specialists to make sure of his health. The vet pronounced him normal, if “funny looking,” and speculated that his parents were probably peculiarly shaped cats also. Tony is a lover, not a fighter. He is best pals with the cocker spaniel who recognizes his sincerity and gentleness and enjoys the company of Alice when she deigns to visit the northern borders of her realm. Because of Binket’s clear intent to murder Tony, he tends to stick to the safety of the north side of the house making his home in the bedroom, bathroom and office. He is fond of sleeping in soft round places like the muffin shaped pet beds or his person’s arms. He is always first to greet his person as she steps out of the shower, eager to reminisce to the scent of freshly washed hair. Tony’s favorite toys are his Stuart Little mouse and Mike Fink the Flat Mink, late of the fashion section of the Church Mouse Thrift Shop on the Plaza in Sonoma. He started out being an infielder, playing a great game of fetch with a soft ball (as opposed to a softball) but soon tired of the annoyance of having to bring the ball back. He is very much the companion cat, often jumping into laps and onto shoulders, assisting with paperback novels as they are being read, attending in the bathroom, coming when called and even placing items of jewelry in shoes so that they will not be lost for long. He is quiet, peace loving and down to earth by nature, his midsection preventing much climbing and exploring in the aerie reaches. Tony’s ambition is to sleep, eat and snuggle with his female human as much as possible. Some less charitable within the household might call him a “Mama’s Cat.” Tony’s card is the Page of Pentacles.

The cocker spaniel asked not to be named to protect his privacy. A rescue himself from the Furry Friends Rescue, we have only recently begun to deduce that he has been placed with us as part of the Federal Witness Protection Program since he refuses to have his picture taken or published. He is a gentleman of refined manner and obvious breeding who has taken great pains to be gracious to his ill-bred but well-meaning family. Negotiations with him for an exclusive interview are pending. Once those have been completed and approved, a profile and card will be published. Until then, eager readers, we must give him his cherished anonymity.

Please donate to the pet rescue group of your choice and, if you can, provide a forever home for a little someone special.

Best wishes.


  1. Marcia,

    How much I enjoyed reading these pet cards. What a lot of personality your friends have. Have sent this on to a friend who no doubt will enjoy it too.

    Great to meet you at RS10.

  2. Great meeting you too, Alec! So good to put faces with names. Thanks again for your kind words.

  3. I love the picture of the cat! Reminds me of my guy, TaoZen, a chunky grey hunk of tabby love!

  4. I meant to say the cat at the bottom! LOL So much like my guy...

  5. Marcia, I have enjoyed reading your fun and vivid post! My family also keeps on rescuing cats and dogs... and it's been going on forever. It is sooo funny how you found a perfect card for each of your pets! I shall try to do the same with my guys :)