A Guest

It was raining and it looked so forlorn — a skinny cat — mostly black, with white chest and paws, just sitting on our stoop, peering through the front-door, through the glass side-panels at our home in Tampa. I didn’t think much about it, but when it was still there at the end of the day, curled up on the stoop, I took a look. It was clear that it was underfed — skinny as a cat could be. It suddenly was also clear that “she” had just had kittens. I wondered where they were.

We had no cat food, so I put out a can of tuna into a small bowl, with some water and stood back. She buried her head in the bowl and didn’t come up for air until it was gone. She looked at me as if to say “Is that all?” I thought about it and then put out some dry dog food (we had a Bichon named Missy), in a little milk. When that, too was gone, she sat down on her emaciated haunches and began to lick her paws and clean her face.

I hated to think she would spend the night out in the still-raining weather, so I put a big white towel on the steps for her, under an overhang. The next morning she was still there. Now what to do. My soft-hearted husband Ken headed to the store to get some “real” cat food, which she seemed to appreciate by cleaning her plate each time it was set out. Another day went by and she was clearly attracted to what now was a steady food source.

She Visits the Vet

We decided the best thing we could do was to take her to the vet to be neutered. At least she would have some chance in the wild if she didn’t have to care for more kittens. Our vet said she was probably just a year and a half old, almost still a kitten herself, and that she weighed probably half of what her full weight should have been — six pounds instead of twelve. She wouldn’t have had much longer to live at that rate. Even though it’s a cat’s nature to hunt, we concluded that she must have been pretty inept at it, to have been so starved.

Since we had a dog, and no interest in adding another inside animal to our care, we considered just feeding her and keeping her as an outside cat. The vet said cats would do fine on a patio; there was no need to have her inside at all. We had a “doggie” door that opened from the patio to the yard, so she would be able to get out anytime she wanted to.

Giving Her a Name

This cat also had a side to her personality that helped us give her a name — her voice. Most of the time her sounds prompted me say “poor little pitiful Pearl.” On the other hand, she also made a chirping sound that reminded me of a cricket. Somehow, saddling this poor creature with the name Pitiful Pearl, seemed unkind, so she became Krikit (a variation on the spelling, I know). We had also considered the name Angel, because she had arrived the day two people put a bid on our house, which had been for sale for several months with no bids. Suddenly, we had two families, both willing to pay our full price. Krikit had been our angel.

So, we had an inside dog, and an outside cat. Even though Krikit was newly wounded, having been neutered, she continued to leap high onto the four-foot patio counter outside the kitchen, and peer at us, just seeming to wait for an invitation to join. Anytime I opened the sliding glass door to go out, she was lickedy-split at my ankles, wangling to get in. So okay, let the cat in and see what happens. If you’re a cat lover, you know what they do —they simply take over your house. When she got used to us, she wanted to be wherever we were. That included making herself at home in small spaces, including briefcases.

Missy Has a Krikit Encounter

Krikit made herself at home, though she was totally wary of the dog. Missy, our dog, had known cats before — at the vet and at various other homes, and basically liked them. Face it, Missy liked everything that had two to four legs, and moved. So, Missy was friendly and accommodating — until the day I was playing “bear” with her, by throwing her soft teddy bear, which she would then retrieve. As she ran past Krikit, Krikit must have thought Missy was attacking her, and she buried all ten of her front claws into Missy’s behind, drawing both blood and outrageous screams of pain. No one had ever hurt Missy before.

Making a Terrible Choice

So, now we had a dilemma. Obviously, Missy came first. We couldn’t keep a cat that would claw the dog. So, either the cat had to go, or she had to be declawed. Softies that we were, we decided to have Krikit declawed. Actually, softies is perhaps not the right term, knowing what we know now about the declawing process. I would never do that again. Poor Krikit. Tired, hungry, emaciated, and thrust early into neutering and soon into losing her claws. I guess it must have been better than starving, but I’m not sure she would have agreed at the time. Fortunately, she seems to have forgiven us.

Krikit came back from her second surgery, shaking one paw at a time and licking each one in turn. Eventually they healed and so did she. She would stretch out totally on Ken’s lap in the evenings when we watched TV. One evening, about two weeks after she had “adopted” us, she began to purr — really LOUD. It was then we knew she was happy in her new home and probably getting well.

When Krikit’s paws healed, she began exploring every nook and cranny of the house. She particularly liked the warmth of my computer screen.

Our living room had a huge fireplace, with a wide mantle and many shelves for books and knick-knacks above it. It was amazing to see her jump high enough to land on the mantle, and then to roam up and down throughout the shelves. She would also leap to a kitchen counter, then on top of the refrigerator, leading to a long plant shelf that circled about the kitchen. It was funny to see her peeking out from behind a plant or one of my many rabbits that I’d collected over time.

Missy and Krikit seemed to pretty much ignore each other. Occasionally Krikit would take over Missy’s bed, whether just to annoy, or because she was comforted by the smell of her new friend. Once in awhile there would be a spirited chase around a room, and sometimes they would both sit at a window, side by side, looking for us to return from a shopping trip. Since we were retired, they were never alone for long.

A New Home

It was time to move to our new home in Sarasota and we wondered how Krikit would behave. Missy was a most flexible dog and we knew she would adapt at once. On the day of the move, Krikit found the highest spot in the new kitchen that she could (none of the rabbits that I collected were up there as yet), and stayed until all the movers and commotion was over. She found her way down and set about eating her dinner. Eating is something she truly enjoys.

The new house has two patios, one with a pool, and one with a small waterfall. Krikit loves to chase lizards and frogs and she lurks about the stones on the waterfall, stalking whatever she sees.

Krikit’s Frog

One night I was awakened about 1 a.m. by a squeaking sound. Since there are various animals that visit in the night outside the patio, I didn’t think much about it. However, when it became clear that the squeaking noise had moved from the typical “somewhere out there” to inside the house, I got curious. I got up and turned on a light for the living room. As I moved into the dark room I evidently disturbed Krikit’s work, for as the light came on the squeaking stopped and she was staring intently under the black cabinet that houses all the music in the living room. I figured she had dropped whatever she was carrying, and it had escaped under the cabinet.

What to do, what to do. She had evidently decided to provide breakfast for us all, but being the wuss that I am, I decided to go back to bed, closing the door so that she could not bring her catch in, to show me. I would deal with it in the morning.

As I entered the living room the next morning, forgetting all about Krikit’s problem, I was surprised by the sight of Krikit in exactly the same spot and position that she had been in 6 hours ago. She was crouched low, peering intently at whatever she was observing. Her eyes were a little droopy, having spent all night watching. Her head occasionally bobbed a little, as if she was drifting off, but no. Back to the job of one of the following: 1) saving her master and mistress from a terrible scourge, or 2) waiting for her live breakfast to give up and come out, or 3) forgetting totally why she was there, but answering to some strange call of the wild.

I went about business as usual, feeding Missy and putting food out for Krikit, then walking Missy. When I returned and invited Krikit for her usual morning walk, she turned me down. Couldn’t leave her post, oh no. This is a cat for whom food and walks are true pleasures, and she wouldn’t budge.

While we were eating a breakfast Krikit had not caught for us, she got the idea of sticking her paw in and around the cabinet, and dislodged, would you believe, a fairly large frog. She sat with it in her mouth until I approached, and decided to tell me all about it. She opened her mouth to say something and it hopped out. A great hunter would never talk while capturing its prey!

I took a paper towel and unceremoniously dumped it out the front door. Big mistake. I didn’t show Krikit what I had done, and she naturally assumed it had returned to its hiding place. She took the position again, and sat down for another wait.

I went off for tennis, returning a couple of hours later. Had she eaten her breakfast? Had she gone out on the patio to Ken to get her morning brush? Oh, no. There sat Krikit, low to the ground, her head drooping, eyes half closed, looking even more tired than she had been.

Now, I know cats are fairly near-sighted, so she couldn’t really see if it was there or not. However, since she had originally brought it in by mouth, there was probably a little blood or something in its spot and she could still smell it. I finally decided to spritz a little air freshener where the frog had been, on the hopes that it was the smell that kept her there. Good guess. Krikit left, ate her breakfast, and immediately went soundly asleep in the sun. When our housekeeper came she asked why Krikit seemed so tired. I replied, “She was up all night with a sick friend.”

Krikit and Another Frog

Krikit continued to try to help supply her share of our food. I noticed her staring intently into the TV cabinet below the TV set. It didn’t take long to figure out she wasn’t watching television, but was waiting for a possible dinner to come out. She stretched out and put her paws on the glass. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was trying to open the glass doors.

So, I opened them for her and she crawled in. I assumed some small animal had crawled in the hole in the back of the cabinet, and Krikit could smell it.

Finally, a frog came out. I grabbed it and took it outside. It didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that I was probably saving its life. Oh, well. No appreciation from frogs, nor from Krikit, who was not aware I had removed the frog, and continued her search for some time. I vowed next time I would show Krikit what I was doing, so she would know the dinner was gone.

Krikit and the Lizard

Krikit walked up to the sliding glass door on the patio with a very large lizard in her mouth. She looked at us through the doors to say “you brought lunch; I’m bringing dinner.” Unfortunately, she opened her mouth to tell us about her contribution, and of course the lizard scampered away — not fast enough, however, because, lightning-fast, she grabbed it again. I decided to go out and see if I could get her to give it up. She dropped it again and I picked it up in a paper towel.

Remembering her all-night vigil with the frog, I decided to show it to her, so that she’d know I was taking it out and so she would not continue to look for it.

I held it up to her face, thinking she would see and smell it. Again, I had forgotten that cats are very nearsighted, so she had no idea what I had in my hand. Well, the lizard didn’t care for that close up at all — it probably thought I was going to feed it to the cat — so it opened its tiny toothless mouth and bit her squarely on the nose. In my surprise, I dropped the lizard, and Krikit jumped. Back to square one.

This time I didn’t fool around, and grabbed the lizard and dropped it outside on the bushes. Once again Krikit's owners were not going to share in her “kill.”

Krikit’s Favorite Things

Krikit is a cat of habits. She usually joins me in bed in the early morning, waiting for my breathing to change so she can walk up on my chest for her early morning scratching. She has been known to lick my eyelids if I don’t open them soon enough to suit her.

Once we are up and having breakfast, she lies at Ken’s feet to indicate she’s ready for her morning brushing. She loves it.

Often, while we eat breakfast, Krikit decides she wants to be be on the patio. She knows perfectly well how to go out the doggy door and do it herself, but she seems to want me to get up and let her out. So, being the obedient owner, I do. When she wants back in, I ignore her. After awhile she stands up on her back legs and bangs on the glass to get my attention. It works, and I let her in. Just which one of us is getting trained, anyhow?

I always thought dogs were the ones who did tricks. But it’s Krikit who will roll over on command — when the mood strikes her.

Krikit has lots of sleeping places. She likes to sit atop a piece of furniture where she gets a good view, then falls asleep. A favorite place is on a dining room chair, tucked in under the table.

Krikit, the Huntress

Krikit likes to practice hunting. At least I think she likes it. It’s hard to tell with a cat, since they have such serious demeanor. She can sit quietly behind a sheer curtain, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting prey. Or, she’ll crawl into a drawer, hiding so wild game can’t see her.

She likes to sit in the bottom of the empty bathtub, waiting for me to play the “prey” part. She keeps a very serious expression, but if I think she’s not having fun and I quit the practice, she jumps out of the tub, says something to me, and then jumps back in.

Krikit and Her “Walks”

Krikit likes to be taken for a walk. Often she sits at the front door looking out while I walk Missy. Ken says that while we’re gone she complains that she’s been left behind. Sometimes I put on her harness and take her out the front door. Mind you, she has two large patios to explore, but I guess the front has different smells, sounds, and views and the possibilities of fresh game.

I can’t say that this experience is a walk, exactly. It’s more like I follow her around, wherever she leads me. She never goes too far, sometimes slowly creeping toward the front walk, or around the corner to the garage.

Her favorite thing to do is to roll on her back on the warm cement and enjoy the sun on her belly. I am usually bored before she is, and I pick her up to go back in, all the while she complains about the short time out. If a person or dog happens by while we’re out (big game), she usually chickens out and heads for the front door, where Missy is always waiting, her nose pasted to the glass in the door, wishing she were with us.

Krikit and Water

When Krikit “adopted” us, we were just about to move from Tampa to Sarasota. For the year following the move I had lots of sniffles and coughs, and attributed it to the new flora and fauna of Sarasota. When it didn’t subside I went to an allergist, and surprise, surprise! I was allergic to cats. As one way to keep the impact of that allergy as low as possible, I get shots, and Krikit must suffer the indignity of a bath every other week.

She doesn’t much like it, but she tolerates the water — all the while she growls and hisses — trying to tell us that no great game hunter needs to be clean, then goes away to a sunny spot to lick herself and to restore her fur to the way she likes it.


One day I heard a very loud noise, like splashing, from the pool area. I thought perhaps Ken had gone for a swim. However, very soon I heard the doggy door bang open and a dripping wet cat stalk into the room, shaking each of her paws in turn, and looking very peeved. She had evidently been sitting in one of her favorite spots — the edge of the spa portion of the pool — and had probably seen some interesting possible lunch in the pool, leaned over a little to examine it and the next thing she knew she was “in over her head.”

I could see the wet paw prints from where she had cleverly found the steps and exited the pool. Smart cat. Bet she won’t do that again.

When We Take Trips

Neither Missy nor Krikit likes it when we go away. When we bring out the suitcases, Missy pouts, but Krikit just climbs into a suitcase as if to say she wants to go along on what she probably thinks is a big game hunt. Either that, or she wants to keep us from packing.

Here are some more pictures of Krikit.

Krikit is a master of disguise

Krikit Yearns for Life in the Great Outdoors

Thinking About Food

Krikit Has a Sense of Humor