Wednesday, July 30, 2014

House of Cats - Part Two, Chelsea and Sammy

Nowadays, when we get a cat we get him or her neutered. Back when I was in high school, neutering was expensive so Anya retained all his parts.

We lived in Elk Grove Village, Illinois when Anya became part of the family, and it was the winter of his second year when my sisters, Connie and Laura, brought home a raggedy white cat they'd found in the snow. My parents did NOT want any more cats, but this poor thing was pitiful - her fur was falling out in chunks, leaving her scrawny body unprotected from the cold. My parents were outnumbered five to two, so we took her in. We named her Chelsea (or rather I named her - I always had a thing for names and I was oldest, so I claimed the right to name her). We took her to our vet, Dr. Kelly, who determined she had food allergies rather than some horrible form of mange. He prescribed Science Diet and, voila, within a very short time we had a gorgeous pure white cat with a coat like silk. Sadly, I haven't been able to find a single picture of Chelsea. Film and developing were expensive back then, so I didn't take a lot of pictures. I'll keep checking. She was a real beauty.

Presumably Anya liked his new companion, because we very quickly noticed Chelsea's belly growing...and growing...and growing. We were staying at my grandparents' house in Evanston when the kittens were born. My grandmother - NOT a cat person - was convinced Anya would eat the newborns. I spent the night in my uncle's basement bedroom, and Chelsea's four kittens were born in bed with me, without incident. Two were white - Columbine and Odessa, one was a mottled gray (Dickens) and one was ginger (Sammy). The white kittens were albino and, as is apparently common with albino cats, they were deaf. Dickens was the sweetest little thing and Sammy won my heart by climbing my jean clad legs with his teensy claws.

I claimed Sammy, who lived 22 years. When my daughter took in two kittens a few years ago, she named the ginger one Sammy in honor of the Sammy she'd met as a toddler.

A quick note: these events happened about 40 years ago, and I'm not sure my memory is reliable about some things. For example, was Odessa white or orange-striped? Was Dickens in the first litter or the second? What were the names of all the white cats? Maybe my brothers and sisters can fill in these details - they're all younger than I am, after all!

My daughter Jessica with Aunt Connie and Sammy

Jessica's Sammy

Sammy at around 20 years old


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