The Other Cleopatra

wpid-2014-06-26-19.01.17.jpg.jpegShe came into our lives clandestinely, as a sort of castoff from a lady who had too many to begin with. It was originally going to be a short stay. We already had another one, and we weren’t looking to expand our little army, but one look in her eyes and I know I was hooked. I had to have her, and I would have done anything to get her. Luckily for me my wife agreed, and she’s been living with us ever since. Of course in the time between then and now things have changed in our home. We had two kids, buried a dog, and just this past year she lost her older brother. But she’s still here, and she can really be a pain in the ass at times.

Her official name is Cleopatra Godden-Jones McManus, the result of a long nighttime conversation between me and my significant other. The Cleopatra was a gift from the gods, honestly. There was always just something about ancient Egypt that fascinated me, and as we began our conversation I just blurted it out, and my wife agreed without hesitation. The middle name was a bit of a trial, though, because I wanted her to have a typical, ironically American nickname, and Heidi was dying for a bit of a British moniker. So we split the difference and gave her a split-level, hyphemic, Godden-Jones. It was our gift to her.

I think she’s a pretty cat, and my wife thinks she’s pretty in a strange way, so we both think she’s pretty, at least I tell myself that. She has endeared herself to us despite her always kittenish ways — the constant night dashes, the clawing of the furniture — and she has survived the carnage of the pets, as I like to call it, motivated by hunger and with an affinity to find the worst possible places to have an upset stomach.

Because of how she came to us, I don’t know how old she is, but I like to think she’s ageless, or at least I fool myself into thinking that. When it was time to lay her brother to rest it was too difficult, and I know for her it will be the same, so I try not to think about it too much. But I do know she has to be getting up there, because we got her shortly after Lexi was born, and our oldest child is 9 now. It’s crazy to think about because she still looks pretty much the same. She’s always been a small cat, and no matter how much she eats she still hasn’t developed any kind of paunch. Maybe that’s the worst, though, because it helps me convince myself she will always be around.

So we make memories — nights spent with her head in our laps, the insane purring — and life goes on, life as a one-cat household. We’ve already said that she is our final pet. It’s just too emotional when they inevitably go. Which means all of those moments when we get upset at her for spitting up in random places are tempered by the thought that eventually there will be no pet to get upset with. Until then we will appreciate her for what she is — not for what she isn’t — a good cat. Our good cat. And Cleo is her name.


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