Friday, June 12, 2009


rue Didot back in 1994

I was taken with a tiny kitten sleeping on a bar downstairs from where I lived in the 14th. arrondissement.
Auw. So cute.
Polo, an iconic local drunkard exclaimed, "Donne le à l'americaine".
I said " Non, non, non, non, non."
That's French for "NO!"
Everyone was pleading with me.
Six-weeks-old and the beast already had more stories than me.

One being that a lady friend of Polo's had dropped him in the street.
The 58 bus was rolling by. Kiki escaped the wheels.
This was one of three escapes with earthly life he had managed.
One-night-stand, I thought, as I picked Kiki up off the bar.
Kiki, you understand, was the no-name I gave him, because it was a one-night-stand.
The next evening I returned to the café and who appears? The husband of the lady who dropped Kiki in the street, shouting.
"You've stolen my kitty cat!" .
The guy was big and ugly enough to play a monster in a B movie.
The locals were all in arms.
Polo (very slight, but stern) stood on a stool swaying.
"The kitty stays with Marie."
Everyone fell silent.
It was High Noon at Happy Hour.
Well, Polo got his way.
Kiki, Felix, Ruby, and I moved to Montmartre that winter.
First to rue Ravignan, then to rue Berth. From one window, there, he could watch all the pigeons in the world stationed in an abandoned building. From the other window he could find passage to the ajoining apartment and where he took afternoon naps with a Dorbermin.
He liked the move to rue Tardieu.
He has reigned the courtyard for the last 13 years.
Last Thursday, I saw that he wasn't well.
I had appointments in the afternoon and couldn't find him on my return nor the day after.
By Saturday I was certain he had gone off to die.
I began to write this story-tears streaming down my face; Sunday morning, I had the courage to write another line when I heard a crackling meow behind me.
Kiki had returned. Got some grub, then returned to the courtyard to survey.
Perhaps it's time to give him a name.


  1. Sweet....

    No, don't change the name, kiki is the name I use for all that I adore,my children, and grandchild. To my ears, kiki is the sweetest sound in the world.

  2. Thank you.
    He is still here.
    Happy that it's cooler.

  3. I loved your story about Kiki, and want to tell you my cat story. Very late one night as I drove home in complete darkness that one finds only in wide-open spaces like where I live, something ran into the passenger side door of my car and then tumbled beneath the car's undercarriage as I rolled at 60 miles per hour. I hooked a u-turn, curious to see what had hit my car. Lifeless in the road was sprawled something small and brown . . . a rabbit? (It was dark, remember?) No, it was a wee cat. No blood, intact, just dead still. Oh, how I wept as I scooped it up so another car wouldn't hit it. I drove home with kitty on the passenger side front floor, wondering if it died in terror, first being chased by a coyote perhaps and then running smack into a car door. I called my husband on my mobile phone; he was waiting to console me when kitty and I arrived. But when he picked up kitty, a low growl and a moan. Now what? We had two five-year-old dogs who didn't know cats. Kitty had no collar, no tags and so petite and underfed, it seemed, but surely someone missed her? We called the police and insisted that they send the animal rescue warden although it was 2:00am. I felt awful turning her in, yet I wanted her to receive immediate medical attention to make sure she had no internal injuries from her tumble under the car. And I wanted her owners to have a chance to claim her. So, off she went. For a week kitty was held at the pound, waiting for the owner to claim her. I called daily to inquire about kitty's status. No, ma'am, the owners have not claimed her. And her injuries? No injuries noted by the veterinarian who examined her, according to the volunteers I spoke with several times over the course of the week. She was but one of 23 "brown, domestic short-hair cats" turned in on that date. I worried if I'd condemned her to death by sending her to the shelter. We began calling the kitty "Crash" when we wondered what she was doing at the shelter. On the eighth day we went to the shelter to see Crash--"just a look," I assured my husband who was not keen on the idea of adopting another pet. My goodness, they had hundreds of cats--we could not recognize her as we poked about in search of her. Finally we asked and they brought us to one of the rooms where prospective owners are introduced to the animal they've chosen to meet. The volunteer returned with the tiniest cat--barely bigger than a kitten, estimated to be a year old. Five pounds wet, maybe, but not the least bit shy or fearful. She was curious and inquisitive. We asked about her medical examination. Remarkably, it seems she only broke a nail in her tumble. We were told she could be ours and that they had spayed her because they were confident we would claim her--evidently not many who call daily to check an animal's welfare can bear leaving that animal at the pound. The deal was sealed when they told us they'd named her Lulu. Lulu! We've given all of our rescued animals French names--11 dogs in our 30 years as a couple, two dogs at a time. Anyway, she's now been with husband and me plus dogs Sophie and Caesar for nearly seven months. If we could design our ideal cat's personality, it would be Lulu's. Playful and very dog-like, she comes when called and is very sociable. She instigates wrestling matches with the dogs and torments them from ledges as they whine in frustration. All sleep curled up together at times.

    So it is, like you and your Kiki, fate put Lulu into our lives. I wish you many more years together.



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