Notes from Candice Ransom

Introducing . . . Atticus!


Once upon a time a kindly old couple longed for a new kitten.  They had the perfect home, a cozy cottage with lace-curtained windows, lots of sleeping nooks and interesting things to look at.  The couple went to the animal shelter.  The first kitten that ran over was all black with long, fluffy fur.  He fit in one hand.  Yes, they said, instantly besotted, he’s ours.  We’ll name him Atticus.  He’ll be a dignified cat.

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The shelter said Atticus was four months old, had been found as a weanling, and was part-Persian.  They gladly turned him over to the kindly old couple.  A little too gladly, the old woman thought.

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Atticus set one paw in the cozy cottage and took off.  He ran, bounced, and jumped for two solid weeks.  He never walked, never rounded a corner without sliding into a 180 degree skid.  “That’s what walls are for,” the kindly old man said indulgently.  Less enchanted, the old woman said, “He’s part-Persian and part Tasmanian devil.”

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Although well-fed at the shelter, Atticus had shared a “condo” with three other cats (who were thrilled to see the back of him) and there was competition at the food dish.  In his new house, he couldn’t get enough to eat.  He ate everything, much of it stolen.  Bread.  Sauerkraut.  Green beans.  Tomato juice.  Black coffee!  The old woman had a weakness for sweets.  Atticus developed the same craving.

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The old couple (the kindliness was wearing off) stood at mealtime with plates held high or with Atticus in another room.  Every morsel of food had to be stowed in chew-proof containers.  It was like camping in Yellowstone, with a four-pound black beast on the loose.  Like Yellowstone’s bears, Atticus got in the garbage can.  He didn’t tip it over, but vaulted into it. The old woman got tired of finding the cat peering up at her like a possum in a burn barrel.  She bought a new trash can with a lid.

Life in the cozy cottage changed.  The lace curtains had to be flipped over the curtain rods.  Those interesting things to look at had to be put away.  The sleeping nooks?  Atticus never even cat-napped.  He was on the go 24/7.  The cranky old couple snuck off to the sleeping nooks, exhausted.

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The real battles took place in the bathrooms.  Atticus dearly loved water.  He loved sinks, bathtubs, showers, and especially toilets. After baptism by toilet—the cat’s first big surprise—he teetered on the rim and played.  Then he patted his wet little paws on the old woman’s face.  “A toilet drinker!” she said in disgust.  They kept the toilet lids down.

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But Atticus found something new to do.  He ripped tissues out of the box, one by one, filling the sinks.  The old couple turned the tissue boxes upside-down.  Whump! Whump! Whump! the old couple heard one evening.  What was that?  Guess who’d learned to unroll toilet paper.  Now they had to keep the bathroom doors closed.  If they forgot . . .

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Atticus went on his first vet visit as a four-month-old kitten.  He came out a six-month-old cat.  “Shelters fib,” the old woman said knowingly.  “They shave a month off their age to make cats more appealing, like doctoring photos of mail-order brides.”

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Meanwhile, the wild rumpus continued.  Sounds like horses stampeding in a Western and someone moving furniture echoed all over the cottage.  By the time the old man came home from work, the old woman needed to lie down in a dark room with a cold cloth on her forehead.  “He’ll settle down,” he told her.  “When?”  She wanted curtains at her windows, her pretty little things on tables again, wanted to eat sitting down, reclaim her bathrooms, and, most of all, enjoy five seconds of privacy.

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Atticus spent lots of time in the old woman’s office, walking on the keyboard, batting the computer mouse, losing pens, and discovering things on the computer the old woman never had, like the time she suddenly had Excel and didn’t know how to get it off.

In rare moments, Atticus climbed into her lap and leaned back against her arm.  He looked up at her and purred.  He was a powerful purrer, like a motorboat.  He patted her face with his paws and nipped at her neck.  She realized this unmannered creature saw her as his mother, sister, playmate, and prey, sometimes all at once.  The old woman typed with one hand so she wouldn’t disturb the warm young cat asleep in the crook of her arm.

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Already he was heavier.  She couldn’t hold him in one hand any more.  He was growing fast.  And one day—in the far distant future—he might settle down.  Maybe even suit his dignified name.

19 thoughts on “Introducing . . . Atticus!”

    • Hi Poppy: It was fun to write and I have photo-ops with this kitten about every hour! He’s always looking at the camera with that “Who me?” look. In fact, he’s laying across the keyboard right now, “helping” me answer. Any time you want to have a Kitten-for-a-Day, I’m renting him out! No, I’ll send him for free!

  1. Stories like this one make my whole day brighter. I start with a faint smile, then move on to a giggle, then to rolling on the floor laughing. Truly, your story of Atticus sounds a lot like the toddler years with our boys – humans not cats – but the antics were much the same. Between the lines I read that you already deeply love this special pet, and the old couple will live happily ever after.

    • We’re not sure the kindly old couple will make it! Atticus is into *everything.* And your toddler boys did not bite, I’m assuming. Atticus knows how to “work it” just when we are exasperated to the limits and be cute. He’s wormed his mean little self into our hearts. For good. So yes, he’s ours.

  2. LOL!!! Thanks for the morning laugh! Oh Atticus… I could have sent you my cat, y’know. She sleeps all the time… except for at night when she walks all over us. I can’t believe you got yourself into this mess again! 🙂 e

    • Yes, we are in it deep now. We haven’t had a kitten in 35 years. Our first kitten, Alaric, was a handful, but he was nothing compared to Atticus.

      So why get another cat? The house was too quiet. After Winchester died, all I did was cry. And it *seemed* like a good idea! When we’re not yelling or running after him, Atticus does make us laugh. But I can’t wait for the day he’ll sleep most of the day . . .

  3. Raucous Atticus!! He’s got you running in circles, but it’s clear he’s already twined himself around your hearts.

    Mine, too. Nothing fills a house (journal, blog page, storybook) with more laughter & musings than the antics of a mischievous kitten. 🙂

    • I’ll have material for years, if I have the strength to record it, or the ability. Atticus is always on the keyboard, desk, in front of the monitor, patting the cursor on the screen. And I haven’t written anything by hand that hasn’t had a big pen scrawl across the page.

      At least he’s photogenic!

  4. What a little rascal! Thoroughly enjoyed each and every word and photo in this post. Sounds like just what the doctor ordered for the kindly old man and woman. I think Atticus needs his own picture book. 🙂

    • Right now his picture book would be a horror story! At least from the pb writer’s point of view. You can’t imagine the crashes that occur several times a day. Sometimes I don’t even get up to see what happened. I’ll know soon enough . . .

  5. Atticus reminds me of Peg. As they say, misery loves company. So, I had to laugh at your “misery.” Are you sure Atticus doesn’t have a wee bit of Lab in him?

    • If any cat was a black Lab, it was Winchester. He was very much a dog of a cat. Atticus is more high-strung, like a wolverine crossed with a poodle. At least Peg is a few years old now . . . Atticus can carry on until he’s 10 or 11. Pray for us!

  6. OMG – I thought I had already commented! Atticus is ADORABLE but yes, I see the tasmanian devil in his eyes! I got such a laugh out of reading this and read most of it to Stan too because I was laughing so hard. Ahhh pets – gotta luv ’em! 🙂

    • You did comment, but that’s okay. Glad Stan enjoyed it, too. I can’t WAIT to come to Hollins this summer and get away from this cat! He broke two things this morning…

  7. It happens in the dog world, as well. Our daughter adopted a puppy whose feet were fairly large but was convinced that “he’s not going to be all that big.” Well, at six months he was 60 pounds and at a year he is over 100!!! He still thinks he is a tiny puppy and tries to squeeze himself into small spaces or under things. He looks really cute walking around with the coffee table on his back like a turtle! He is wild and crazy. The only peaceful times are when he is asleep or in his crate. Recently he has been willing to sit on the sofa for more than 3 minutes without jumping off to investigate a leaf blowing on the front porch. (The windows go all the way to the floor and he sees everything.)

    • Sheilah, I laughed at the image of that dog carrying the coffee table! Cats are the same way–they use their whiskers to see if they can clear a space, but forget they’ve got bodies bigger than their heads!

      Fortunately Atticus has small feet (unlike Winchester’s big clown-shoe feet) so he won’t be very big, but round, I think. Like a cannonball. At least dogs don’t jump up on tables and knock things over to watch them fall.

  8. You know you enjoy every love nip and piece of toilet paper you have to re-roll. I will bring his cousin Sugar up to teach him some manners, as you know how well behaved she is!! 🙂


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