Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Kitten Named Freya

I used to live in Wasilla, Alaska.  Life in Wasilla way back then wasn't always normal.  Okay, to be honest, it was rarely anything that could be considered remotely normal.  Leaving Christmas lights hung on the eaves all year long so you can see outside in the fall isn't normal.  Hanging bars of Irish Spring from your trees to keep the moose from stepping on your dogs isn't normal.  Getting almost to the end of your driveway, having just shoveled about a hundred feet of foot-and-a-half deep snow, only to have the snowplow fly by and blast you in the face with street snow, isn't normal. 

Naming your kitten after the Norse goddess of all things emotional--love, hate, war, the afterlife--that's not too normal either, I guess.  But hey, I did it.

I was looking for a feisty cat, after all.  For a while it was just me and my great big chow and lab mix puppy, and after I'd returned from three months of training out of state, it became me, the puppy, and several hundred shrews (the Lex Luthor of the rodent family).  I tried baiting the shrews with cheese and with peanut butter, and for a while the traps were effective.  After a bit, though, I figured out that I was just doing Darwin's work on the population, culling the less intelligent ones. 

So I got the feistiest member of the litter from a friend whose cat had just had kittens.  The little black fuzzball that pounced on everything--yeah, that's the one.  To reinforce it, I named her Freya after the Norse shaman goddess, leader of the Valkyr, and commander of half of the warriors in the afterlife.  Woo hoo!  What a badass name!  Go Freya!

She sucked at catching shrews.  I remember one night I was sitting there watching TV when a shrew decided it could cut a rug across my living room.  I looked over at Freya, who looked back at me with a "well, what do you expect me to do about it?" expression.  I happened to have a roll of duct tape sitting there on the end table (what Alaskan end table doesn't have a roll of duct tape on it?) and I flung it at Mr. Shrew.  My aim was true, and the population was reduced by one--stupid or slow, I'm not sure, but its genes were removed from the pool regardless. 

Freya would have nothing to do with the little corpse, either.  She ate cat food, not little furry things, she told me in very clear meows. 

Then Heide moved in.  With, of course, her kids.  And, of course, her Chihuahua.  I think Freya's word for Chihuahua meant something in the realm of "cat toy." 

I didn't believe it at first.  I mean, Freya was such a cute and loving little being when she was around me.  Sure, she sometimes decided to leap onto the chow/lab's back and ride Darby like a circus animal, but that was more entertaining than really dangerous or hurtful. 

She stalked the Chihuahua, though.

The "great room"--a common space in Alaskan houses--was the size of a dining room and living room all together, and it separated the kitchen (and dog food/water) from the bedroom (which was Chihuahua haven).  Poor Peco, the noble little guy, would make his run for a little bit of water, and he'd do just fine getting to the kitchen.  You could watch him prepare for the trip back, though--first, he'd look around the living room to figure out where his nemesis was.  Usually Freya would be laying, draped across the back of the couch, asleep. 

Asleep.  Uh, huh.  Right.  "Asleep" my tuckas.

Peco would make his first little dart back toward safety, from the kitchen opening to the dining room table base.  Freya wouldn't move, but the end of her tail would twitch.

Peco would dart again, this time to a chair a little closer to safety.


He'd dart to behind the love seat, and then peek out carefully to see what had followed him.

Nothing had.  Yet.  Twitch.

He'd maneuver around the couch system carefully, putting himself into position for the final break, the longest single unprotected leg of the journey.  Once he was satisfied that the coast was clear, he'd leap out from the safety of the couch, four-inch legs propelling him as fast as they could across the carpet.

But the black streak named after the Norse goddess of war was faster.

"Stop it!" one or both of us would yell as the Chihuahua screamed in terror at the impending doom presented by the cat.  Suddenly Freya was back on top of the couch, appearing to sleep peacefully, tail giving but a single twitch.

Sadly, Freya wasn't with us for long.  She developed a seizure disorder that was pretty traumatic to watch.  A cat in control of its claws is one thing, but a cat flying across the floor with four sets of little scythes flying is terrifying even to us humans.  We took her to the vet, who shrugged and offered us some seizure medication.

Cat seizure medication, at least in those days, couldn't be used as a preventative.  It had to be used during the seizure.  And, of course, it wasn't available as an injectible.  No, to administer the medication, you had to wade in between the flying blades, raise the poor creature's tail, and insert the suppository.

What kind of sick mother f person came up with that, anyway?  "Oh, hey, this seizure medicine, we can't make it too easy to administer.  Let's make it a suppository."

The condition eventually took her from us, but I'll never forget a little kitten named Freya.


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