Old Enough to Drink


My cat, Ashley, turns 21 years old today. That’s right – 21! Old enough to drink alcohol – not that she wanted any when I offered it to her. She did, however, LOVE the bowl of milk and the chunks of cooked chicken she received as her “Happy Birthday” meal.

Ashley is a small cat who has never weighed more than 10 pounds. These days, she weighs around 6.5 pounds, due in part to the fact that she only has three legs. She lost her rear left leg to fibrosarcoma when she was 10 years old, but the only effect that had on her life was she was no longer able to jump up to the really high places in the house.

Ashley in a really high place (the top of the kitchen cupboards) in 1992

We actually “knew” Ashley when she was just a bulge in her mommy’s tummy. Her mother, Cinderella, belonged to some friends, and since we were looking to get a cat, they promised us “pick of the litter.”

Cinderella, Ashley's mom, with her kittens (6 May 1989)

Ashley, one week old

Ashley, 3 weeks old

Ashley, four weeks old

Soon after the above picture was taken, Cinderella stopped producing milk for her litter, so we got to take Ashley home with us.

Ashley with what was to become her favorite type of toy - a foam golf ball

Stalking the wily foam golf ball

When we got Ashley, we also had a pet rat named Bug. Bug was about the same size as Ashley, and they became playmates. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures of Ashley and Bug playing, but I did find a couple of Ashley snoozing in front of Bug’s cage:

Ashley sprawled in front of Bug's cage

Soaking up some rays

For the first couple of years of Ashley’s life with us, my boyfriend (now husband) and I were going through the transition from college to working life; we moved a couple of times and didn’t have a lot of time for socializing, so Ashley pretty much grew up thinking that we were the only other two living things on the planet. She became rather protective of us and “her territory” (our apartments), and wasn’t all that friendly toward other people.

Ashley with the food bowl that pretty much summed up her personality toward anyone who wasn't mom or dad

In 1992, when Ashley was three years old, we brought home a baby ferret, Raphael. Much to our surprise, Ashley was scared of Raphael when we first got him, but once he got a little bigger, she decided he wasn’t so bad.

Ashley decides Raphael isn't so scary after all

Ashley and Raphael playing

But foam golf balls were still Ashley's favorite toy

Besides playing with Raphael and foam golf balls, Ashley also liked to display an acrobatic (or is that “acrocatic”?) side. She liked to be tossed in the air, do a back flip, then land (more like belly-flop) flat onto my husband’s outstretched arm. She was like a little kid and wanted him to do it again and again.

Ashley the Acrocat

"Do it again, dad!"

Unfortunately, when Ashley lost her leg to cancer at age ten, it messed up her balance enough that she could no longer do her “acrocatic” displays. Still, she’s had plenty of excitement over the years, including “training” several dogs (a chow/shepherd mix, several greyhounds, a saluki, and a borzoi) to respect her, usually accomplished with little more than an angry hiss and a couple of swats on the nose. Yes, the cat who was scared of a baby ferret fearlessly stands up to dogs that weigh ten times more than she does. Go figure.

She’s also stood up to a lot of our friends over the years, giving her the reputation of being a three-legged demon in a cat suit.

"I'm no demon. Just a sweet, sweet kitty."

Despite her attempts to the contrary, she hasn’t convinced very many of her one-time victims that she’s mellowed out in her old age. The truth is, I’m not sure she has mellowed out all that much.

Ashley in Dec 2009 (age 20). Mellowed with age? Maybe.

Mellow or not, one thing is for sure, she likes to sleep. Here’s how I find her most of the time:

Ashley's favorite pasttime (Dec 2009)

I’d have taken a more recent picture of her than the one above, but it wouldn’t have looked any different. Then again, if I were a 21-year-old cat, I’d probably sleep a lot too.

2 Responses to “Old Enough to Drink”

  1. Ashley's "Dad" Says:

    Scoop-a-Goop and Flippa-Schwee!

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