When I was a boy, my mother was upset with the number of mice she detected in the cupboards, so our family acquired a cat.

She was a beautiful little black kitten named Minnie.  We picked her out oif our neighbour’s cat litter in the fall.  Since my brother and I were in school most of the day and my father worked in the store, it fell to my mother to take care of her.

At first, everyone loved to pet htis little black ball of fur.  As she got older, my mother was especially pleased with Minnie, who would catch mice and bring them to her for inspection.  Minnie would get extra cream for these efforts.  Sometimes she would use the  mouse like a toy or bat it around like a badminton birdie.

This was a little disturbing.

In many ways though, my mother had no idea how to deal with a cat.  She had never had a cat before, only a dog when she was a little girl.  So she was always trying to get Minnie to fetch the ball.  This was, however, only partially successful and only when Minnie was small.  Even then, the kitten would knock the ball around rather than bring it back.

Then one day, as I was doing my homework, I heard Minnie yowling for she was worth.  My water was yelling and water was splashing in the bathtub.  My brother and I ran in to see my mother trying to give Minnie a bath.  Minnie’s loud yowls got louder along with my mother’s Yiddish curses and exclamations.

Minnie looked like a fur buzz saw with her legs flailing and her claws out.  She was hanging on to my mother for dear life.  Fortunately, we were able to take her off my mother with a towel.  She looked like a drowned rat after the bath, even as we towelled her dry.

After getting scratched severely on the arms, my mother finally accepted our arguments that cats washed themselves.  But I think she was somewhat resentful that Minnie, unlike everyone else, did not have to take a bath.

I am sad to say that Minnie did not last much longer in our house, despite her skills as a mouser.  It all had to do with my mother’s strict sense of decorum and morality.

It happened like this.

My parents let Minnie go out at night in the spring, keeping the window open for her return.  But Minnie matured very quickly and by late spring, she was being courted by every tomcat in the neighbourhood.

Every night there was a feline serenade outside my mother’s window.  My mother claimed to disturbed by all the meowing, but I soon realized that was really shocked by Minnie’s lack of morals.  She used very nasty Yiddish words to describe Minnie’s behaviour and by the time summer was half over, she decided to give Minnie away.

My mother refused to discuss it, despite my earnest pleas.  She marched with Minnie in a box directly to the Humane Society which was a few blocks away.

When she came back, her red embarassed look when I asked why we had to give Minnie away, her muttered comments about Minnie needing to control her urges and her later comments about “that hussy” (in Yiddish, of course) confirmed what I had suspected.  Minnie had doomed herself by her loose ways.

I have never owned another cat since then, but strangely, whenever I walk down a street, cats sense that I am sympathetic.  I stop and look at them with sadness and they come over and curl around my legs.  I am not shocked by their immoral behaviour.  I reach down, pet them and am comforted.

Alas for Minnie and the rites of spring!