Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Hell on Wheels

(Photo by Dawn Pisturino.)

Hello! My name is Isis.

Don’t let my sweet, innocent little face fool you. Although I let my human mommy hold me on her lap and cuddle me and kiss me on the face, I’m the Queen of the Jungle. Whenever the OTHER cat comes into the living-room, I want to rip her ears off. A couple of weeks ago, I tried. My human mommy got mad at me, but she doesn’t understand. There can only be one Top Cat, and that’s me. My human mommy strokes my fur and tells me to be a good little girl. I try, Mommy, I really try! You know how I always stop in my tracks and listen to you when you scold me, but I just can’t help myself. I just have to attack my housemate cat, whether you like it or not.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

I love you, Mommy.

Isis

~

Dawn Pisturino

June 24, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Zen of Cats

(from Pinterest)

February 20, 2009: When our fourteen-year-old Siamese-calico cat was peeing on the rug and having occasional bowel movements in dark corners, my husband and I couldn’t wait until she died. Peace at last, we thought. No more litter boxes, no more cat whining, no more scrubbing the carpet. But as the time drew nearer, she seemed to sense that her days were winding down. She suddenly became very affectionate and wanted to sit on my lap for hours at a time. She wanted to be petted and cuddled and to stay near me all the time. She laid with my husband on the couch, hung out with him in the computer room, and slept on top of us at night, even in the heat of summer. But she was losing weight and going downhill fast. I held her in my lap and cried, finally realizing that we were going to lose her one of these days. In spite of her annoying, constant meowing and soiling the carpet, no matter what I did to stop it, I was going to miss her.

It all happened very fast. One day, she could barely walk, and she cried when she tried to stand up. She was sleeping more and more. I didn’t want to accept it, but we finally had to make a difficult decision.

We took her to the vet to have her put down. I held her in a towel in my arms, crying my eyes out. The vet was extremely busy, and it was obviously an inconvenient time for her, but she patiently explained the procedure, agreeing that it was probably the best thing to do. We stayed with our cat throughout the whole procedure, telling her how much we loved her. I hope she understood from the tone of our voices that we truly cared about her. I had lost my temper so many times when she soiled the carpet, I wanted to make sure she knew that we loved her, in spite of the problems between us.

Instead of earning our freedom from litter boxes and gaining peace of mind, we sat in front of the TV set listening for the cat. The house was just too darned quiet. Something had died inside of us, and life seemed very dull. We suddenly realized just how important she was and how much she had dominated our life for the last fourteen years.

After a couple of months, we happened to take our dog to the vet and fell in love with every cat and kitten we saw. Was it time to take the plunge and get another cat? We discussed it thoroughly and ran into the vet’s the next day to adopt an adorable tortoise shell kitten who was obviously the runt of the litter. She was in a cage with a larger black male kitten, and they were cuddled up together like the best of friends. We didn’t have the heart to part them, so we took both kittens.

Were we crazy? We started out with no cats and ended up with two kittens! After a few days, we were in love. How did we ever think we could live without a cat — let alone, two?

After a hard day at work, my favorite way to relieve stress is to curl up in the easy chair with one or two kittens on my lap. My stress just melts away.

Our cats are loving, sweet, funny, and unpredictable. They bring life into the house. And yes, we still have to clean out the litter box. But somehow, we don’t seem to mind so much.

April 26, 2022: After 12 years, we finally had to put our black cat down. He was dying of liver cancer. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. He was my baby, my special boy, my therapy cat. I thought I was going to die, it was so painful. Even though it’s been a year now, I still cry when I think of him. The interesting thing is that our little tortoise shell cat, who has been hell on wheels, has taken his place in so many ways! She now lets me cuddle her, something she never would allow before. We’ve grown very close. We also have an older cat who is attached to my husband. She always viewed me as competition for my husband’s affection. But, since my little black cat has been gone, she has become much more loving and friendly and sits near me in the computer room and watches me while I’m using the computer. She’s 16 years old, and I always thought she would be the first one to go. But life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
February 20, 2009; April 26, 2022

Copyright 2009-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Remarkable Mr. Tibbs

(Photo from Pixabay)

Caitlin finished hosing down the empty dog kennel before turning off the water and removing her grimy work gloves. Her black sneakers felt damp, mud streaked her brand-new jeans, and long strands of corn silk hair had come loose from her ponytail. She was tired and hungry and ready to go home. “I’m finished, Grandma,” she called.

Dr. Rosemary Grant poked her curly gray head out the back door of the animal hospital and smiled. “You’re a good helper, Caitlin. I’ll take you home now.”

As they approached Caitlin’s house, a streak of yellow raced into the street. Her grandma slammed on the brakes, but they both felt the sickening thud.

“Mr. Tibbs!” Caitlin cried, jumping out of the car. She knelt on the asphalt where a yellow mass of fur smeared with blood lay sprawled. The eyes were closed. The chest barely moved.

Caitlin’s grandma knelt to examine the still form. “Get that old blanket from the back of the car,” she instructed without looking up.

Caitlin grabbed the blanket and handed it to her grandmother. “Will he be okay?”

“I don’t know,” she said gravely. “He’s seriously injured. We might have to put him down.”

“No!”

“He’s suffering, Caitlin. Do you want him to suffer?”

“No,” Caitlin sobbed, “but you’re a doctor. You’re supposed to try and save him!”

Very gently, as if wrapping a delicate Christmas ornament in tissue paper, Dr. Grant wrapped the injured cat in the woolen blanket and laid him in Caitlin’s arms. “We’ll take him to the clinic, and I’ll see what I can do. But don’t get your hopes up.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs lay listlessly in a padded basket, his green eyes glazed over. “Grandma gave him some pain medicine,” Caitlin explained to her parents. She gingerly lifted the wounded yellow cat out of the basket and cradled him in her arms. His left front leg was missing. In its place was a small stump with tiny black stitches. His right front leg was limp, twisted, and useless.

“He’s crippled,” her mother said, wringing her hands. “What are we going to do with him?”

“He’ll never live a normal life again,” her father said. His steel gray eyes appeared grim. “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea. If he can’t adjust to his disabilities, we’ll have to put him down.”

* * *

Mr. Tibbs sniffed eagerly at the catnip toy in Caitlin’s hand, his green eyes glowing with expectation when she tossed it several inches in front of him on the tile floor. He eyed the toy warily, his tail flicking back and forth. Then, with one big push of his hind legs, he thrust himself forward onto his chin and chest, knocking into the toy and pushing it away. He rested a moment, breathing heavily, and tried again. Now the toy was encircled by his limp front leg. He opened his jaws and picked it up.

Caitlin scratched his furry yellow head. “Good boy, Mr. Tibbs. You did it.” She took the catnip toy from his mouth and offered him a treat, but he turned his head away and closed his eyes.

* * *

“He’s not improving,” Caitlin complained to her grandmother on the phone. “He just lays there. He won’t even try to get up unless I coax him.”

“Give him time, honey. He’s been through a terrible experience, and now his independence is gone. He has to learn how to survive all over again.”

“But if he doesn’t get better soon, Dad will have him put down.”

“It might be better in the long run,” her grandmother said.

Discouraged, Caitlin hung up the phone. Despite all of her best efforts, Mr. Tibbs was barely able to scoot a few feet across the floor. He refused to eat, and he was still unable to use the litter box. “Thank goodness we have tile floors,” her mother kept harping. “I don’t know what we would do if we had carpeting.”

Maybe Dad is right. Maybe it’s better to put him down.

She searched for him in the kitchen and laundry room. Where is he, she thought. But as she walked through the living-room door, she witnessed a remarkable sight: Mr. Tibbs was sitting up on his back haunches like a dog, his useless foreleg hanging limp and twisted in front of him, biting at the air with his powerful jaws and trying to catch a pesky fly that buzzed around his head. The fly flew away, but Mr. Tibbs remained sitting upright on his haunches. Then, with one great effort, he propelled himself onto the sofa with his strong back legs.

Caitlin flew across the room, scooped up the startled cat, and covered his furry head with kisses. “You are the most remarkable cat in the world!”

Later, when Caitlin climbed the stairs to bed, she was surprised to hear a thumping sound behind her on the stairs. She stopped and turned around. Mr. Tibbs was using his muscular back legs to clumsily propel himself up the stairs. “Come on, boy, you can do it,” she said. Slowly, he pushed himself step-by-step up the stairs until he lay exhausted at her feet.

“Dad, come here,” she called excitedly.

The first time he used the litter box, Caitlin beamed with pride. She offered him some bits of tuna fish which he eagerly ate from her hand.

One Saturday afternoon, Caitlin’s father answered the front door. A young man with sandy hair and freckles stood on the front porch with a small notebook in his hand and a camera slung over his shoulder. “Does Mr. Tibbs live here?” he said. “My name is Josh White, reporter with The Somerville Daily Bugle.”

Caitlin’s father chuckled. “Come in, Mr. White.”

Mr. Tibbs sat on his haunches in the middle of the living-room snapping his jaws at a piece of green yarn that Caitlin was dangling over his head.

“Hold that pose,” Mr. White said, flashing his camera.

The photo appeared the next day on the front page of The Somerville Daily Bugle above the story about a remarkable cat that was rescued from a terrible accident by a skilled veterinarian and saved from a life of helplessness by a dedicated twelve-year-old girl. Caitlin kept the newspaper clipping in her special drawer and read it every night before going to sleep.

Purring loudly, Mr. Tibbs stretched out his long body on the bed and yawned, one tired and contented cat.

* * *

Incredibly, Remarkable Mr. Tibbs is based on a true story. British naturalist Philip Brown owned a cat named Uncle Whiskers that survived a terrible car accident. Just like Mr. Tibbs, his left front leg was amputated and his right front leg was paralyzed. This amazing cat adapted so well to his disabilities, he was able to catch moths, rats, and even rabbits. Mr. Brown was so astounded, he wrote a book entitled Uncle Whiskers which is still avidly read by cat lovers today.

Want to read more stories about disabled pets? Visit http://www.petswithdisabilities.org.

Works Cited

Brown, Philip. Uncle Whiskers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974.

“Pets With Disabilities”. http://www.petswithdisabilities.org. Accessed 9/16/2008.

Dawn Pisturino

October 2008; March 30, 2022

Copyright 2008-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Egyptian

egyptian-cat-goddess-statue-

The Egyptian

Four large black cats rushed to greet him when he opened the apartment door. Four pairs of gleaming yellow eyes watched him curiously. Four shiny, custom-made rhinestone collars flashed at him. Four soft, furry bodies rubbed themselves affectionately against his grey flannel-clad legs, purring loudly. He stood still in the doorway, afraid of tripping over one of the sleek black bodies or stepping on a long black tail.

“Cleopatra . . . Hathor . . . Horus . . . Anubis!” cried a familiar voice. “Leave the poor man alone!”

The cats meowed loudly as a tall woman with honey-colored skin entered the room. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, full-length black silk caftan embroidered with shiny gold thread. Her thick black hair was piled high on top of her regal head. Her heavy gold earrings, necklace, and bracelets shone brilliantly in the bright sunlight streaming through the open windows. She clapped her hands together, commanding the attention of her feline pets, and waved them toward the open kitchen door. The cats scampered off, eager to please their mistress.

He entered the apartment cautiously, closing the door behind him.

“Emanuel!” She greeted him with a warm hug, and he inhaled the sweet, heavy Arabic perfume which she always wore. “Light a cigarette for me, won’t you, darling?”

He pulled a pack of expensive Turkish cigarettes from his pocket and held one in his mouth while lighting it for her with a slim silver lighter from Rome. Remaining silent, he handed it to her, and she took a long, slow drag.

“It’s been so long,” she said, after exhaling a small white cloud of smoke. “I’ve been trying to quit, you know. But today calls for a special celebration. Thank you for responding to my call.”

She looked at him intently with large dark eyes which turned up slightly at the corners. The effect was accentuated by the heavy black eyeliner she always wore. Then, smiling with pleasure, she suddenly grabbed his hands and pulled him down next to her onto the elegant gold brocade sofa. “Kiss me, you fool!”

He turned away from her. “That’s not a good idea, Fatima. Please, just tell me why you called.”

She leaned over and turned his face toward her with long, slender fingers, looking deeply into his eyes. Her soft lips brushed against his neck, then opened up eagerly to his own, and they embraced with a familiar passion. When she had gotten her fill, she pushed him gently away, laughing.

“Ah, my talented Emanuel – no man has ever kissed me the way you do. How I shall miss it!”

“The divorce was your idea,” he quietly reminded her. “I would have endured any agony to be with you, if only you felt the same!”

Her face darkened. “Such pain,” she said bitterly. “But there was no choice. I could not allow you to be hurt by my foolish folly.”

“But you have never explained that to me! You owe me an explanation,” he pleaded. “To throw away twelve months of bliss is also folly!”

She tapped the cigarette with her right forefinger over the ashtray, letting the ashes fall, then took another drag. “It’s quite simple,” she said, avoiding his probing eyes. “I’m leaving for San Francisco with another man.”

A cloud slipped over the sun, darkening the room. He stood up and abruptly turned his back to her, afraid of the tide of emotion rising up inside of him. He walked over to the fireplace and leaned against the mantel. The mirror hanging on the wall could not conceal his flushed face, smoldering dark eyes, and tight, white lips. Suddenly, the truth seared through his brain like an exploding lightning bolt. He was a fool alright, a stupid, ignorant fool who had run after this magnificent harlot like a pathetic little boy, promising her the whole world.

In spite of her passionate declarations of love and exotic love-making, she had never really loved him. But she had played him brilliantly, taking him on the most exciting ride of his life. The marriage certificate obtained in New York City had paved the way to her U.S. citizenship. Then there was the brand new Mercedes-Benz (gold, naturally) which she had proudly picked out one Sunday afternoon; gifts of solid gold jewelry; and trips to expensive seaside resorts. She had used him, body and soul, then booted him out like a worn out old shoe when she was done. Even his pledge to give her a liberal monthly alimony had turned on him. She was going to share it with another man!

His jaw tightened, and he picked up a small plaster statuette of Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess portrayed in the form of a black cat with gold earrings in the ears, a gold ring piercing the nose, and a jeweled collar inlaid with rainbow-colored stones. There were four of them lined up along the mantelpiece – souvenirs brought home from their trip to Cairo, her birthplace. He threw it angrily against the mirror, smashing both into a thousand pieces.

Clenching his fists, he turned to look at her. A wave of fear rippled across her lovely face – a face he had treasured and adored. She squashed the cigarette into the ashtray and began to rise from the sofa, but he rushed over and pushed her down hard against the cushions.

“Emanuel, no!” she cried, throwing her arms defensively over her face.

Consumed with rage, he raised his right fist and brought it crashing down against her arms. He kicked her delicate legs with his heavy Italian leather shoes and punched her in the belly with a furious, driving force. She screamed in agony, doubling over with pain, and the sound of her torture was music to his ears.

Suddenly, an ear-splitting yowling sound filled the room. A hundred tiny sharp needles seemed to claw into the flesh of his back, ripping the soft fabric of his grey flannel jacket. Tiny, needle-like fangs sank into his muscular shoulder. He screamed in pain and reached backward, trying to pull the angry ball of black fur from his back. But the enraged cat sank its fangs into his right hand. He screamed again.

Frantically, he jumped around the room, falling over tables and lamps, trying desperately to dislodge the hissing, spitting demon from his back. In the background, he was dimly aware of his beautiful, unfaithful wife dialing 911.

Three pairs of large yellow eyes watched him angrily from the kitchen doorway. Three long black tails twitched furiously. And when the hissing started, his heart seemed to stop in his chest. Three slinky black bodies padded silently toward him. And when they sprang on him, claws piercing his skin through his fine designer clothing, a terrifying shriek echoed through the apartment, and blackness closed over him.

* * *

Police sergeant James Watts had never encountered such a scene in his thirty years on the Hollywood police force. Nor could he explain to his satisfaction why four large black cats had so viciously attacked and killed their owner’s husband. The beautiful, grieving wife with the large dark eyes and foreign accent had wrung her hands nervously, tears streaming down her face.

Yes, it was true, they were going through a divorce. No, it was not what you would call a bitter divorce. They had both agreed to call it quits while they were ahead and to part amicably. No, she had no idea why the cats had turned on poor Emanuel. He had always treated them with such affection. Yes, of course, she understood that she was sole beneficiary to his estate. What was the nice police sergeant trying to imply?

The four large black cats were hauled off to the pound, where they were later executed for their crime.

The elegant Egyptian widow, dressed in filmy black robes, left for San Francisco with an up-and-coming architect, who left her two days later without leaving a forwarding address.

A week later, police broke into the San Francisco apartment of a mysterious black-haired woman after neighbors complained of a sickly smell permeating the halls. They gagged, covering their noses and mouths with gloved hands, as they surveyed the scene before them.

A corpse lay on the sofa, the bloated body of a dark-haired woman with purple-blue skin, who had evidently been mauled to death and then partially eaten by her feline pets. Four large black cats scampered into the kitchen when the officers appeared. They were never seen again.

  • * * *

Police sergeant James Watts of the Hollywood Police Department closed his newspaper, rubbed his stubbly chin, and leaned back in his swivel chair to think. Very strange, he thought, pondering this information. Very strange, indeed.

Dawn Pisturino

August 6, 2007

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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