We have to call her
Monkey because she is more monkey than cat. We called her Pumpkinseed originally, even before she came into the house, because she seemed somehow slippery and her tortoise-shell coloration was odd enough to deserve an odd name and one patch of bronze on her back was almost bright enough to be pumpkin. She was a stray wild cat out of the pride of strays that populates (and re-populates and again re-populates) our end of the village. Many other of the cats we've taken in over the years were no doubt distant relatives, including Boops, whose death I am not yet over.
This Monkey Cat, this Pumpkinseed, was a wild stray, and she came to the food bowl at our garage door. She came to eat, but not to make small talk with us. Eventually she stopped running off so far, then she stopped running off, then she stood her ground at the food bowl as we came and went. In the dead of winter we thought we ought to bring her into the house, yet we'd be gone to Cozumel for ten days of scuba diving, so the timing wasn't good. When we returned, we were in the clutch of a cold snap, 20-below zero, and the cats we feed outside by the garage door were both cold and hungry.
Mary and I were coming back to the house from running some errands. It was 20-below, as I say, winter in Wisconsin, and I had my heavy coat on, and gloves. That Pumpkinseed Monkey was eating at the food bowl as we approached the garage door.
"Well?" I said to Mary with my eyes.
"Yes," she nodded.
I scooped up the cat and swaddled its anger with my arms. The cat clearly wasn't happy. She was trying to get her clawing apparatus free for use, and her strange eyes were wild. Yet Mary opened and closed doors for me and we got the cat in the house, up the stairs, and into the bedroom Mary customarily uses when acclimatizing cats to our house. I say "customarily" because we have taken in a lot of cats over the years, most of them strays, and Mary is a wizard with the cat sociality lessons.
We called this one Pumpkinseed because of her strange coloration and a certain perceived slipperiness; sometimes we called her Pumpkinhead because when we got to know her we recognized her as a goofball. But we ended, finally, calling her Monkey, because she is mostly long-limbed and climbs like a monkey.
For instance. Most recently. We are plagued with mice coming into the house. That goes with cold weather in Wisconsin, when you have a big old house with a mouse racetrack through the foundation. Mice come into the house to escape Wisconsin's cold weather. That's why you have cats, isn't it, to deal with the mice? Monkey does it for us. She is Alpha-mouser at our house.
This fall the mice have seemed especially plentiful for some reason. Monkey had already brought us four or five. I heard a commotion in the bathroom. I looked in. The shower curtain was pushed to one end of the bathtub, as usual, and Monkey was up there hanging from the shower curtain rod with both her Monkey Arms. With both her Monkey Arms to start with, then by one arm as she tried to reach into the folds of the shower curtain.
I swooped her down and set her on the floor. And I quickly examined the shower curtain to see what she might have been after, but I didn't find anything.
"Mary," I said to my wife, who was in the kitchen stirring supper, "Monkey was hanging from the curtain rod on the shower!"
"That means there's a mouse in the curtain somewhere," Mary said.
"I looked but didn't see anything."
"Then look again."
I did. Indeed, there was the mouse, hidden in a fold up near the top of the curtain. Mary already had on her mouse-handling gloves. She snatched this one to take outside, as she'd already done with several others Monkey had brought us still alive.
"We're going to have to start putting ear-tags on these mice," Mary said, "to see how many of them come back in."