MY COVID kitty is a preloved, rehomed four-year-old named Raven, who is as beautiful as she is bossy. Definitely a trickster. Last I checked, the lease is still in my name, but otherwise she rules.
Being housebound during the first COVID-19 lockdown in Spring 2020 made me realize the mouse infestation in my downtown Toronto apartment was out of control. I was glued to my computer working on edit projects and correcting galleys for my first poetry collection. The mice drove me nuts as they scampered over and around the peanut butter-laced traps.
Noticing many pandemic puppies while out on my daily walks, I decided to find myself a COVID kitty, but preferably an adult cat, not a kitten. I searched for somebody’s beloved cat that needed to be rehomed. I reached out to animal hospitals and shelters, but these animals have significant medical and behavioural issues. Not having lived with a cat for many years, I didn’t trust my capacity for feline special needs.
I began trolling Kijiji. I didn’t know that finding a cat on Kijiji is as bad as — if not worse than — online dating. And the cost, absurd. Unable to find an adult cat, I resigned myself to a kitten. One “sweet kitten,” advertised for $550, boasted that the price includes “all her gear.” I learn that the gear includes a litter box, food and water dishes, kibble, toys, and a cat bed. I also learn the kitten was neither vaccinated nor dewormed. Keep your bells and whistles, I told the seller, I prefer to know I have a healthy animal rather than all your “gear.”
In addition to exorbitant cost, one sure way of detecting a pet scam is when the animal description doesn’t match the photo displayed. In other words, the sweet tuxedo kitten in the photo doesn’t match the the orange tabby described in the advertisement copy. This happens frequently, so buyer beware.
After three-and-a-half months, I finally struck Kijiji gold. I found a couple who needed to move to care for a sick parent, a parent who has cat allergies. Five dogs (they are breeders) were moving with them, but three beautiful adult cats needed to be rehomed. I prefer short-haired tabbies, but I chose the “black one” after a Zoom call. Raven had a beautiful face and appeared sweet-natured. Her purring sealed the deal. For $25.00, I received the cat plus 1.5 huge bags of Costco kibble.
Raven, in addition to being beautiful, discriminately purrs, meows, whines, grunts, coos, groans and kvetches. She is assertively affectionate but never bites or claws. I am smitten.
Raven, my COVID Kitty, moved in on Sunday, August 2, 2020. She emerged two days later from closet hiding to assume her post at the open balcony door for bird patrol.
I worried that Raven would be bored without her cat and dog buddies. Not so. She happily spends the day at the balcony door or window watching bird TV.
When not bird watching, she enjoys dollar-store balls with bells inside that she tends to lose. A ribbon tied to the ball leaves a telltale trail, which enables me to retrieve the balls where she’s rolled them.
I’m not as productive as I was before Raven moved in because I now serve, on demand, as her Pillow-in-Chief. Everyday tasks take longer. Changing the bed linen, for example, becomes a sporting challenge. I try to make hay while the cat sleeps, so to speak. But reduced output is also my own fault because I stop frequently throughout the day just to savour such feline beauty. Her thick, brown-black fur reminds me of the sealskin coats worn by elderly aunts.
Raven’s highest achievement to date is the poem she produced — in two perfect tercets — the first time she stepped onto my computer keyboard. Good kitty!
Raven serial naps. Again! Nap on, my dear Raven. You are entitled to all your naps because, upholding your part of our bargain, you are one fine mouser.
June 2022 update: Raven’s poem was published in Issue 79 of filling Station (Play). Now she writes a sonnet cycle. Between naps.
October 2022 update: as the weather cools, the mice move back inside…
November 2022 update: Team Raven bagged 3 (3!) mice over a 24-hour period, then 9 (9!) mice in 8 days, followed by mouse #10 the next morning. She’s now stalking #12 #13 and I’m exhausted. I ponder Mouser-in-Chief and/or Team Raven logo(s) and merch. Maybe t-shirts…
December 2022 update:
Muchos libros, poco tiempo (so many books, so little time). I told her not to binge-read over the holidays, but she wouldn’t listen…