A new email from my friend announced that she’d found homes for two kittens. Just one was left; and this time she shared the whole story with me: When the kind soul found them in that dumpster they were just days old. He had a child with asthma, so taking them home was out of the question. So he took them to work. He fed them, cared for them, even made pillows for them. But by the time a month had passed they were starting to grow and he knew he couldn’t keep them for much longer.
How Debbie (my friend) got them from him I don’t remember. It was rather convoluted.
Anyway, we had one baby left and Debbie, who already had four cats of her own, insisted that I come and pick one up and take it to my house until a foster home was found. Off I went to her house.
When I saw those three little butterballs tumbling unsteadily around her basement I was as good as gone. But when Bartlett cocked his head to one side (not surprising given how heavy those ears must have been) and stared right into my eyes it was love at first sight — for both of us. I squealed, picked him up and cuddled him in my arms. I don’t know who was purring more loudly — him or me.
Debbie snorted, grinned and said: “He’s not going anywhere, is he?”
I decided the safest place for him, until Sundance and Zazu got used to the idea of having a little brother, was in my guest room. And because I am insane, and also because he was so tiny, I moved in there with him — for three weeks! The baby naming took more than a week. This was a special cat. His facial markings made him look like a cartoon cat. The markings on his body reminded me of an executive wearing a white shirt and grey flannel pants.
So this was no “Buttons” or “Max” or “Mittens”. He needed a name with presence. It had to be unique. Strong. Corner office material.
One afternoon two colleagues showed up — to have a viewing and also to insist he had to have a name. Pronto. We brainstormed for a while. They were rapidly losing patience when I shrieked! “I have it!! I have it!!!!”
“Bartlett. His name is Bartlett. I love it. It’s perfect!” I said, firmly. They concurred. We were all very proud of ourselves and went downstairs to toast Bartlett with a bottle of red. And of course it was perfect, for several reasons: It was certainly serious enough for a character pussycat with an endearing little face, wearing a starched, white shirt and flannels. The street I lived on at the time is called Pears. And over the years Bartles (his nickname) has grown to the size of a raccoon, 25 pounds at least — and he is definitely pear-shaped.
Zazu, who has unfortunately passed away, never did cotton to him. Maybe one day I’ll write about having to call in a pet shrink for her when things between her and her nemesis, Bartlett, really got out of hand. Sundance did take an interest in him, but only when Zazu was occupied elsewhere. She didn’t tolerate any breaches of loyalty. But we did finally all manage to co-exist relatively peacefully; and now that Zazu is gone, Bartlett and Sundance do hang out more — and sometimes seem like they actually like each other. “Sometimes”, I said.
He runs me a merry chase, Bartlett does, but he’s as irresistible today as he was, when I adopted him, twelve years ago. He is fond of sleeping beside me, with his head on the other pillow and my arm around him (can’t believe I’m actually admitting to such a thing). He likes American Idol and Dancing With The Stars. He hates the News — huffs out of the room, muttering under his breath when it’s on. He talks to me constantly and I swear he understands what I’m saying to him. Which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t ignore me whenever he feels like it. Like when he’s hiding up in the hole he has burrowed in my box spring — which is another story, for another day. No worries, I’ve got 359 blog posts to go. Lots of time, for all the stories.
In my life he is, without question, the cat’s meow. And he has brought me more joy than you can possibly imagine.