She has always been called just Puff, but it sounds ever so much more elegant in the Latin, so I'm christening her Aura for the time being.
I've been meaning to get a cat for ages now. Aren't single women who live in apartments and write poetry on the internet supposed to have them? For Christmas my family teamed up to help meet some of the initial costs of kitty-ownership I couldn't cover, which was so lovely of them it nearly made me cry. Then there was the tremendous decision of whether to adopt a kitten from a shelter, wait till summer when there are usually a few local farms with litters needing to be homed, or just take one of my family's outdoor cats.
They've had more cats than I can count over the years, mainly for the purpose of keeping the barn rodent-free. Some of them have had kittens, and then the kittens have grown up and had kittens of their own, creating whole feline dynasties whose complicated interrelationships only the brave dare attempt to tabulate. Rainy, the grey-haired matriarch of the clan, was for many years the only one allowed indoors, as she could, like any good queen, be counted upon to behave with civility and dignity.
She was basically the cat version of Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey.
Most of the cats, including Her Majesty, have been of the sleek, slight, shorthaired variety which suits itself to barn life. One of the kittens a few litters back, though, must have got something different in her genetic makeup, because when my younger siblings were going through their Obvious Name Phase of pet ownership (Googly Eyes, White Face, and Mister Tabby are some mementos of that age), she got called simply Puff, and Puff has remained ever since.
She looks like nothing so much as a large black marshmallow with a tail tacked on one end and two green eyes on the other.
She never did well as a barn cat. Her long fur was always clumped and matted, with twigs and burrs clinging to it, and she had a sort of frantic, troubled air, as if perpetually on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Since she wasn't allowed inside, she spent most of her time by the front door, alternately skittering away or mewing for attention whenever someone opened it. Every spring, the marshmallow fur would start to fall out, not gradually but all at once, whole carpets of snarls and lumps hanging away from the skin, which looked very odd and not a little disturbing, and seemed to make her even more unbalanced than usual.
I brought her to my place tonight. She was most distressed to be locked up in a crate, and mewed quite tragically all the way home. When I let her out into my flat she seemed afraid of everything and hid under my bed for the first twenty minutes. Then it dawned on her that she was indoors, a place she had never been allowed before, and she went a little crazy, rolling about, rubbing her face on the doorframes and kneading the carpet frantically, and crawling up on my lap again and again to be petted.
It reminded me of Corduroy the bear: "I think I've always wanted to live in a palace!"
Presently she calmed down a bit, curled up in a corner and began working some of those everlasting knots from her fur, something I hadn't seen her bother with in a long time.
I think this is a bit like how God must feel when someone dies and He gets to bring them into heaven. For Him it's a tired and wounded soul, for me it's a black marshmallow cat. Dying, getting stuffed in a crate. Heaven, a flat with junk everywhere and a kitchen full of dirty dishes. Sin, a bunch of burrs in your fur. You even get a new name.
I think we're going to get along, Aura and I.