Empty Step

July 6, 2008

One of the best features of our duplex is gone.

Dobo isn’t dead, she’s in Tacoma, and that is a long way away.  She went to live with Thistledown’s mom.  We had warning of this, and were both surprised how much the prospect bothered us in the weeks leading up to her departure.  We are even more surprised how much we feel the lack now that she’s gone, because Dobo was possibly the most unmannerly cat we have ever met.

Dirty, diffident, prone to complaining, greedy, and frankly not all that attractive.  I’m sorry, there is just something about the splotchiness of a certain kind of calico that detracts from the natural grace of the feline form.  Breaks up the lines.  I would love a calico if I had one of my own, I’m sure.  They’re just not my first cat color choice.

But Dobo lived here, and we take what we can get with cats.  Der Mann is allergic, so a house cat is not an option.  We also grew quite fond of the 3 (respectively) brain-injured, feral, and thuggish barn cats when we lived in a rented farm cottage.  We courted the human-scorning cat next door at our last rental.  I guess we shouldn’t be so surprised that Dobo became a part of our lives.  Or at least a sort of homey hobgoblin haunting our carport.

Dobo is a cat with an eye for the main chance.  It was not enough to sit enthroned on her packing-blanket cushion atop our table in the car port, nor to lounge in her cardboard seedling box beneath.  No, whenever the door was was left open she had two methods of ingress: saunter toward it sideways as if she were really just heading toward her perch on the fence, then casually wander inside at the last minute; or make a lightning fast bee-line for the crack between the counter and the stove, which is almost always good for a few fossilized morsels.  If no one chased her out in the next 30 seconds, she was up on the kitchen counters.

We’d catch her at this and order her out, and she’d return each of our orders with a meow of irritable refusal.  After sharing the exchange for a few moments–but not until we’d resorted to stomping around and shoving her in that direction–she’d finally consent to walk toward the door as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible, making noises as if she were muttering under her breath at our stupidity all the way.  “All right, all right!  I’m going!  –*ssh*les.”

Thistledown calls Dobo a “he” even though she is female, because she has such a strong personality.  When Thistledown’s friend was looking after Dobo a few years ago, she bought Dobo a black leather collar with steel punk studs.  Thistledown left it on her, because it suited the cat so well.

Dobo is a serious hunter who prowled the vacant lot behind the house.  Rumor has it she’s brought down a squirrel.

Dobo likes dust baths.  She does not like to groom herself.

According to Thistledown, Dobo also enjoys shredding brand new sofa slipcovers in the middle of the night.

Dobo is not a lap cat.  She is too alert.  The tiniest noise, and she’s up on her feet, ready to go patrol the borders of her domain and (she hopes) kill something.  Very occasionally she will choose to assert her domination over you by letting you pet her while she perches unsteadily on your knee and digs her claws into your leg for purchase.  She has rusty purr.  I’d read about rusty purrs, but Dobo’s was the first I encountered.  There really is no other word to describe it: rusty, like a rusty, squeaking bedspring.

Dobo knows that humans are all about food.  Her seductive belly-baring and laconic greetings are all about food.  If the humans don’t provide a non-stop stream of food, she sees it as her duty to trick it out of them.

You can see how Thistledown might lose patience with Dobo-ownership, even though her two-year-old is crazy about the cat.  Last weekend we woke up to, “No cat go!  No cat go!”  Which sounds like I’m making it up, but that’s really what he was saying.  Grandma was taking the cat home with her.  I was surprised it didn’t get any worse.  I had expected a knock-down drag-out fit for sure!


After unsuccessful lap session

After unsuccessful lap session


Studiously ignoring one another

Studiously ignoring one another


Well, maybe a little

Well, maybe a little


But not for long

But not for long


I haven’t heard the little boy talking about Dobo since Saturday.  I wonder if he has already forgotten his weekday morning ritual of finding the cat in order to say goodbye to it when they leave the house.

Der Mann and I certainly miss Dobo whenever we go outside.  It’s like the duplex has lost its guardian spirit, and now it’s just an uncomfortable little hot-box we keep our stuff in.  I never realized what a dreary place it is to come home to.  Greeting the cat must have distracted me.  There is no reason to sit on the steps anymore.  If we aren’t watching Dobo keep tabs on the squirrels, or shooing her away from us when she is in the mood to cover us with cat hair and dirt from the driveway, what are we supposed to do there?  I don’t get to nag der Mann about his allergies anymore, either.  I don’t get to say “I told you so” when his nose and eyes start running.

There’s no reason to shut the door.


4 Responses to “Empty Step”

  1. Jane Says:

    Animals do bring such life to places and into our lives. Cats, and dogs in the sighthound group, are those about which it is often said that we only live beside them, not truly with them.

    Nevertheless, they allow us to glimpse our world in ways that we may otherwise have missed — for example that crack between the stove and counter that you mentioned — as being a source of snacks rather than just one more place to eventually get around to cleaning someday when that ‘granny cleaning’ demon strikes us.

    While from your post, it’s clear that you are not a fan of the tortoiseshell (or clouded tiger) cat coat patterning, maybe you could have some fun emulating it in a more pleasing way by weaving up a piece as a tribute to Dobo – to commemorate her having passed through your life. I could picture something in autumn leaf colors mixed with black or deep, dark brown.

    Long ago I knitted mittens and socks out of yarn spun from brushings of my beloved afghan hound. I still have some of the yarns left over and this fall plan on weaving the last bits into a scarf. He left us last fall after 14 years. You can see the mittens and socks here:


    I can imagine you making a clouded tiger scarf with tiger eye beads. . .


  2. Trapunto Says:

    I checked out your mittens, Jane. It’s a beautiful project on so many levels. That is a noble animal! Der Mann and I have been reading some fiction set in Arabia at the time of the Byzantine empire, and the king’s salukis feature prominently in the plot, so they have been getting a lot of loving description. I’m guessing Afghan hounds are pretty close relatives to the dogs too valuable to be bought and sold.

  3. Suzan Says:

    I’m sorry Dobo had to go home. Am told that if you get a kitten and get her used to weeky baths you can keep the dander down. I like to have a cat own me!

  4. I remember reading some sequel of Anne of Green Gables where Anne’s young niece and nephew live with her and her aunt. The niece was the perfect, well-behaved child, but the nephew got into any kind of mischief he could. Anne’s aunt comments something like “it’s the troublesome ones that really win your heart”. I’m sorry you’re missing Dobo. (Also, I may have missed it, but I couldn’t figure out who Thistledown is. Sounds like a rabbit from Watership Down!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: