A few years ago….okay, MANY years ago in 1989….there was a short-lived sitcom called “The Famous Teddy Z” about Marlon Brando’s young agent. The sitcom starred Jon Cryer and, basically, nobody watched it.
After my cat friend Lukita died back in early January, I knew I wanted to adopt another cat, but it took me a while to decide to do so. And when I did decide to do so, I was pretty much adamant that I wanted to adopt an older cat. One that could grow old with me.
But somehow I wound up with the famous Pepe Z. Ten weeks old when I adopted her from the animal shelter. What the hell was I doing with a kitten? She’s gonna outlive me by many years and she doesn’t have all the “social graces” that Lukita came with. As Dierks Bentley said, “What was I thinking?”.
Well, I WASN’T thinking. That’s the thing about going to the animal shelter. You lose your mind and you give your heart away, even though you swear you’ll do the opposite. When my friend Jonnie and I went to the local animal shelter in Riberas, I had totally convinced Jonnie that I was looking for a teenage [at least] cat. No kittens.
But the thing is, you can’t get to the cage with all the teenage and older cats without passing by the kitten cage. And when we did that, both Jonnie and I said, “OMG! That kitten looks just like a skunk!” We were both fascinated. I’d never seen a cat like that. Oh, sure, there are the so-called “tuxedo cats,” but they generally don’t have a big white stripe running down their backs. A stripe that just screamed “SKUNK!” to both Jonnie and me.
Because we were both fascinated by the kitten’s appearance, we spent way more time than we should have looking at it. I should have just kept walking. Marched myself back to the older cats’ cage and ignored the kittens. And I really did try. But the little skunk cat, who both of us were referring to as Pepe by that time [you know, for Pepe Le Pew, the cartoon skunk], was following us around the kitten cage, with a flock of other kittens in her wake.
She was like the queen [well, okay, the princess] of the kitten cage with loyal subjects attending to her while keeping the prescribed distance. She didn’t do cute things; she left that to the jesters in her court. She didn’t look longingly at either of us with those huge, wet eyes like Puss in Boots in the “Shrek” series.
She just watched and waited. And ate.
I guess one or both of us should have known that this was a kitten of voracious appetite. When she wasn’t marching around and while the other kittens were frolicking and trying to attract our attention, she was munching away….all alone….at the big bowl of dry cat food that had been put out for the little ones.
But Jonnie and I soldiered on and inspected the older cats. And then we went over to my friend Amalia’s house in Chapala to look at her selection of cats she would like to adopt out. But I was like Goldilocks when I got there. This one was too old; this one too young; this one too scared; this one too clingy; this one too independent. And all the while my thoughts kept going back to that ugly little skunk cat at the animal shelter.
And although Jonnie pretended that I really meant it when I said I needed to sleep on it, she knows me well enough to know I’d already made the decision. So she didn’t express any surprise the next morning, when I picked her up to go play cards with friends, I casually mentioned that I might like to stop by the animal shelter again and check out “that skunk cat.” And, oh, coincidentally, I happened to have the cat carrier in the back of my pickup.
So we bowed out of going out to lunch with the “gals” [something I normally look forward to every week], and set out for the animal shelter. When we arrived, I found a little girl about 7 or 8 years old in the kitten cage, apparently trying to select a kitty which she wanted to take home.
I totally panicked. She was going to choose Pepe, I just KNEW it! But the little girl kept going to the cutest, cuddliest kitties and ignored the little skunk cat with bowed front legs, crossed eyes, and fur that went in every which direction but down. Pepe looked, in every sense of the words, as if she had been rode hard and put away wet. Nothing there to appeal to a 7 year old. But definitely something there to appeal to a 64 year old who has also, in her life, been rode hard and put away wet.
So I asked the volunteer lady in the older cat cage if I could have “a closer look” at the skunk looking kitten. You know, very blase, as if I did this all the time….inspecting cats for the rich and famous.
The volunteer brought out Pepe [which is when we finally determined that she really was a girl] and let me hold her and put her through her paces. Because, honestly, Pepe was so freaky looking that I thought maybe she was “special” in some way….and not in a good one. I had visions of incontinence and/or anger issues. A pissy demon seed, if you will.
But Pepe behaved admirably. She tried to claw out neither my eyes nor Jonnie’s. She spent several minutes on a cabinet top without pooping all over us. But I was still undecided because she was SO little. And I’m so big.
The woman in charge of cat adoptions that day came up to us and said, “Oh, I see you’re interested in Skunk!”
“OMG,” both Jonnie and I exclaimed, “you call her Skunk, too???”
“No,” she said, “we called her Callie. But I heard you two in here yesterday calling her Skunk and realized she really does look like one.”
And then she proceeded to tell Jonnie and I about Skunk’s early life. She and her brother, a handsome fellow bearing little resemblance to Pepe except for the white blaze on his back, had been dumped somewhere. The people who found them had taken them to the vet who realized that Pepe was almost dead, although her brother had come through remarkably unscathed.
Pepe was so dehydrated that the vet needed to give her an IV to get some liquids into her. So the vet had shaved one of her front paws to try to put in an IV but found that all her veins were collapsed and couldn’t accept the IV needle. So the vet shaved Pepe’s neck and ran an IV into her that way. Apparently, she hadn’t been rode hard and put away wet so much as rode hard and put away dry.
That was it for me! It was love and Pepe Z., the famous Pepe Z., came home with me that day….25 February 2012.
Now I know you’ve look at that picture at the top of this post and you’re thinking, “Pepe’s not weird looking. She’s kinda cute!” But, no, you’d be wrong. Sure that picture makes her look great, but what she really looked like was this:
And here’s your song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDolMGr6BBU