Fat Stella

Today’s post will be the first in a short series that I’m unofficially calling the Vermont Animal Diaries. From August 1995 to May 1996,  Kendra and I lived in North Bennington, Vermont so I could attend graduate school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in nearby Troy, New York. We rented a house from a couple who was out of the country during that time, part of our arrangement being that we would care for their three cats and one dog. For the next few days, I’m going to share them with you. Then on the last day, I’ll tell you a delightful story involving all three of them. Today is all about this porcine feline…

Stella was perfect. She was insanely soft and silky, and she absolutely lived for physical affection. She was the ideal specimen of a lap kitty in nearly all respects…save one: She weighed probably four times too much. When she would flop down on your legs for some attention, she was not unlike a good-natured Labrador or German Shepherd, panhandling for a love handout, with no concept of appropriate boundaries and personal space, and no frame of reference for her Bruhathkayosaurusian size. Stella was pleasant and big like that, except without all the mindless slobber and ridiculous hip wagging you typically get from a dog.

Fat Stella

Stella’s size actually played a significant role in her charm. She was soft as a plush toy not only because of her silky fur (which was luxurious), but more because of her generous folds of whale blubber. Stella could have fed a traditional Eskimo family and kept them in lip balm for the entire month of November. On a cold day, it was delightful to call her over, invite her onto your lap, and tuck your hands into her layers, kneading softly to warm your chilly fingers. And she liked it, too.

Although Stella was not the strongest of our landlords’ three cats, she somehow had her bluff in on the others. I guess she was like that one fat kid on the playground who, although he’s not actually tough at all, is simply bigger than everybody else, so he’s just accustomed to getting his way. All of the cats shared their food from one large bowl in the upstairs bathroom. When we’d pour food at feeding time, that clanking was like ringing the triangle on a chuck wagon: Everybody came bounding in, immediately circling up to start gobbling like greedy pigs at a crowded trough.

Everybody but Stella. Because the bowl was upstairs, it required physical exertion just to get there, and she’d have you think her moseying was because she was the kind of classy gal who prefers to take her time. She would instead meander slowly into the room and draw up for a long pause, regarding her peons with abject disgust. All eyes around the bowl would rise to meet her icy empress stare, and jaws would begin grinding even more staccato-like, more swallowing than chewing. Once Stella had determined everyone had had enough, she’d wobble toward the bowl, and everybody else would scatter for higher points, looking down from a safe distance, hoping she’d leave them at least a few crumbs.

She had her bluff in on us, too. We hadn’t been living there very long when we discovered what kind of a person Stella the cat really was. Kendra was lying in bed one morning, trying to sleep in a little. But the sun was up, and Stella required maintenance. She crawled up on Kendra’s chest and purred softly, occasionally dobbing her nose on Kendra’s chin. When Kendra didn’t respond, Stella escalated to phase two, gently patting Kendra’s cheek with outstretched paw. When Kendra told her, “No, Stella. Not right now,” Stella had to lay down the law. She extended her claws on that paw and tapped again. She was gentle and did not scratch, but she conveyed her clear warning. This was her shot across the bow, if you will. And Stella’s obedient human woman responded, untucking her hands from underneath the covers to accommodate her queen.

Stella was perfect.

Did you ever have a perfect pet? How did they communicate their desires to you? Were you their slave—as you know you should be—or were YOU the boss? Don’t you ever wish our animals would treat US with the same kind of plush welfare lifestyle we lavish them? What might a world where WE were the pets look like?

6 Responses to “Fat Stella”

  1. KM October 15, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    The morning ritual with cats is ridiculous. I just want to sleep!

    The thing that amazes me the most about animals is the completely different personalities they all have, much like human children. Since I don’t have any kids, people usually get upset when I compare my pets to their kids. I digress.

    With four cats, mornings can be a little crazy, especially if you didn’t remember to fill up the food bowls before bed. They get hungry during the night. Very hungry.

  2. Brannon October 15, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    Yeah, you don’t want to make them go too long and end up having one eat off your toes: http://huff.to/9SFhkX Also, it’s a good argument not to get drunk and pass out around them. (And Lord knows, that’s a lesson we could all benefit from.)

  3. Kendra Golden October 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    I was just thinking about Stella and recalled that she didn’t like her food to touch the rest of the cat’s food so she would scoop little bits onto the floor and eat from there. I think they call that eccentric.

    • Brannon October 15, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

      I’m convinced we just couldn’t fully comprehend her genius.

  4. Jill McCleery October 15, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

    All my pups have amazing and totally different personalities, even though they are all family.
    My “fav” Willow was a very sick pup that I had to take care of since the day she was born because her mother was overwhelmed with 6 puppies. I bottle fed her and she slept with me very night. It was like having another child. Given~ we became very close but, my giving in to her every whim came with a price. She now has such separation anxiety I can’t leave the house without stressing her to the brink of having a heart attack. I take her everywhere I can but I definitely created a monster! Even my boys think she comes before them. :)

    • Brannon October 18, 2010 at 9:13 am #

      I think it’s only fair that pets should come before children. Pets don’t back-talk.

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