A man of wisdom delights in water.
There are those who say that you don’t choose a cat but the cat chooses you. It doesn’t matter, since Miss Bess is here and that is what matters. I picked her out of a litter -- or she picked me. She was the runt, tiny with a splotchy coat of black, white, brown and orange marking her as a calico. Her skinny body showed her ribs, since the other kittens wouldn’t let her feed regularly from her mother. I knew I had to have her. I named her Miss Bess since nothing else seemed to fit.
She grew into her paws and became a beauty. I laughed at her antics and her curiosity. She was forever getting into things. Once I found her playing with my costume jewelry. She was a tangle of gold bangles around her neck, and pearl necklaces decorated her body in loops of purple and blue. Rhinestone combs had gotten twisted in her fur and hung at strange angles. She looked at me hopelessly from the clutter as if to beg for forgiveness, asking to be relived of her excess indulgence. I delighted in making her toys and brought others home for her. She never tired of feathers and little mice filled with catnip, although wicker balls were her favorite. As the days passed we grew to know each other’s idiosyncrasies and became very fond of each other. I thought I had learned all I could about her, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
One night when I was drawing a bath I forgot to close the door. Miss Bess, never one for privacy, nosed her way past the door and into the bathroom. Upon seeing me in the tub she jumped onto the toilet and then onto the counter to have a better view of what I was doing. I like bubbles and they mesmerized her. With nose quivering and head bobbing, she moved closer to get a better look. After jumping from the counter to the floor, she bounded up again this time onto the tub’s edge. She peered at the bubbles and brought her nose closer to sniff their scent. I laughed when her nose hit and the bubbles popped. My chuckles set the water in motion and she stared at the ripples. She pawed one only to find that her paw made them too. She slapped the water, following the rings with her eyes. Only when they quieted did she regard her paw and the moisture there, licking it until the water was gone. She began to pace the edge of the tub with the grace that all cats posses. As she was meowing her reaction I watched her become more agitated and I couldn’t understand why she was getting upset.
And then it happened. Suddenly she jumped into the bath, her whole body launched through the air, and after a tremendous splash she was with me in the tub. Luckily she had landed near the faucet end of the bath. If I hadn’t been so concerned about her, I would have been in fits of giggles since Miss Bess is a cat who displays her emotion in her eyes and on her face. What I saw was a mixture of complete shock and sheer joy. She swam around the tub, droplets of water hanging off her whiskers. She looked like she was having the time of her life. I was perplexed to say the least, since I had never known nor heard of a feline who liked water. We stayed in the tub, and I let her enjoy the water for another thirty minutes.
I decided to get out of the tub since the water gotten cold and my hands were wrinkled. I dried off, dressed, and ran a comb though my hair, and I thought that at some point she would have jumped out, but she just puttered about the tub basking in her newfound toy. Finally I pulled the drain, thinking the sound of the water escaping would draw her out but it didn’t. I tried to pull her out but she skittered to escape my grasp. I grabbed a towel and waited for all of the water to drain before trying again. Reluctantly she agreed to the rubbing of her fur to get most of the water out. Though she was clearly perturbed to be separated from her newfound love, I coaxed her with promises of more baths. I kissed the top of her head and let her go on her way. She was not dry but I knew that she would lick her fur into a better condition than the towel could do. I cleaned up the spilled water from the bath and put the towel in the laundry.
I found her in my bedroom lying on my pillow, a huge wet ring underneath her. Clearly I was not getting to sleep anytime soon, since at night Miss Bess would not sleep anywhere but above my head. I decided to use a hair dryer to dry her off faster, and hoped that the sound would not scare her. I started with a low setting at first but I didn’t need to worry. Miss Bess loved the warm air and being brushed. Soon she was dry and we were both asleep. Later that same month I found out that Miss Bess liked showers too. I thought she would get soap in her eyes and the droplets would annoy her, but they didn’t. She just closed her eyes, drew in her whiskers and let the warm water rush over her. She would stay there all day if I let her. When it is time to get out and I shut off the water she scowls at me. Fortunately if I give her a treat she forgives me for taking her out.
I have often wondered why Miss Bess, with her love of water, did not once tackle the toilet. I am very glad she didn’t!
When guests come to visit us I always explain about Miss Bess and her love of the water. I tell them that the best way to make sure they are not bothered by her is to check the bathroom first, as she has been known to hide in the wastebasket, and then close the door tight. Of course this will not protect them from her loud wailing outside the door when she hears the sounds of the shower or bath and complains about being left out. She will ignore whoever has shut her out of the bathroom for the rest of the day.
I don’t know who picked whom, but I do know I would not be the same had Miss Bess not come into my life. I love her quirky character and her moods and I wonder what other discoveries we will make along the way.