Big Girl & The Duchess


This story is a continuation of Caroline’s Neon Sign and The 3 Sisters: Burleose, Toulouse, & Marie. If you haven’t read about Caroline’s cats, now would be a great time to catch up. If you’re already familiar with it – read on, dear readers…

Brulee is another of my girls who wandered into my life one day from the woods behind our house. Technically, she wandered up for about a week before taking up permanent residence with our family; but from day one I knew she was here to stay. She was weaned and had no immediate evidence of siblings, so I was puzzled as to where she belonged. Two facts lead me to believe that she had been dropped off somewhere nearby: One, nobody claimed or knew of her; and two, an additional little girl appeared three houses up hiding under the deck at the same time. Corroborating my theory was the fact that the kitten did not appear to have had any consistent source of food.

I assume that if one has almost starved to death that it leads to a certain fixation with a consistent food source. I can vouch for that assumption in Brulee’s case. From the beginning of her reign over my house, she has been fixated on the two food bowls that I leave out for the girls. One stays in the garage and the other on the screened back porch. These are filled with dry cat food and the girls have access whenever they so desire to partake of a snack. I’m not sure if she took an oath, but it is Brulee’s sworn duty to make sure that the two said bowls are full of food and that it has not somehow magically transformed into something new and even more wonderful every time she passes by one of the bowls. And let me assure you, no official figure takes his or her position any more seriously than Brulee.

Every time I see her pass a bowl, she makes sure to test at least one bite. I do hope the other girls know what a stressful job schedule Brulee has to keep. Maybe that way, each one of them would appreciate why Brulee occasionally comes up while they are at the food bowl and literally bumps them out of her way! Bless her heart, not only does she interrupt her naps under the cocktail table, she pauses in the middle of “airing her belly fuzzies” (IE: laying belly up, legs to the sky) to get up and make sure no arbitrary changes have occurred in the food bowl on the porch.

For a while I contemplated her situation, wondering if she ate out of sheer boredom. I have decided to give her the benefit of the doubt though, and just go with the theory that she takes her position very seriously. Maybe I even knew this was in her future when she first appeared and demanded a name…

Obviously, Brulee is short for Crème Brûlée and this is what she reminds me of. She has the palest of yellow orange coats with lots of pure white on her chin, paws, and belly. If hard pressed, I would say her coat has a distinct pinkish tint to it as well. In short, she looks just like a beautiful bowl of Creme Brulee, right before the sugar is caramelized on the top. Her job has of course lead to her tendency to be well-rounded, in stature that is, and not at all sleek or lean like her sisters. Unfortunately this has exasperated a limping gait that she has had from day one at my house. I’m not sure to this day if she was abused as a small kitten or if her family tree was instead a wreath (you know how sometimes cats can get seriously interbreed). She has a back paw that looks like it spent some time in some sort of clamp trap and both of her back legs are stiff when she walks. Therefore, when she walks, she actually waddles. And I’m sorry, but a cat constantly waddling to or away from the food bowl just begs to be given nicknames…

Hence, “Big Girl” is Brulee’s top nickname. It makes sense and being a 16 to 18 pound behemoth makes the name quite appropriate. She seems fine with it and actually responds to Big Girl almost as often as she does to Brulee. The nickname she does not like is the one my husband and son occasionally use, “Wide Load.” I don’t blame her and tell them, at least every other time they say it, that calling Brulee a “wide load” is sooooooo not nice! They find it amusing though and so she and I both do our best to ignore the two of them at these times. And when the name-calling and job stress get to be too much for Brulee, she always manages to find her advocate and entice her into a fun game of crouch and chase!

Who’s her advocate you ask? Let me introduce the 5th and final (for now, because you never know what tomorrow brings) of my girls, Duchess. About a year ago I thought that my neon ‘COME HOME WITH ME’ sign might have a bulb or two burnt out. Never fear though, it simply took a rest, because let me assure you it was burning brightly on my early morning walk. The route that my neighbor and I walk takes us from one end of our street across a major road and to the cul-de-sac at the end of the opposite street. All told it’s a mile and a half and passes one business, a metal fabricator. Our walks start at 5:30 each week day, so it goes without saying that at least some of our walks are done in total darkness. This was the case that morning so as we approached the business and started hearing a strange noise, it took quite a while to finally spot the culprit. When we did though, and after she determined that we were indeed friendly, the kitten added herself to our duo and for that morning’s walk we became a trio.

Oddly enough, she never faltered and walked the entire mile and a half right in step with us. She even held her ground and continued on in the presence of one of the larger dogs in the neighborhood who was out for her early morning constitutional. There was nothing doing but that little kitten was going home with me. Once I got a good look at her in the light, she didn’t get the week’s grace period. Nope, she went to the “kitty spa” (aka vet) first thing. I could tell right off that she had some sort of eye infection and a raging case of ear mites. Other than that she seemed in good shape and aside from the bloated shape of her belly, I thought she seemed in fairly good health. Sure enough the vet confirmed that she was disease free, simply malnourished, and started her on vaccinations. He also treated her eye and ear issues and the little kitten was deemed ready to take home. Now once again I had not found anyone who wanted a kitten, so home she came with me.

Once home, I struggled a little to name her. My son had some ideas, but none that really suited the kitten. As I watched her over the next few days and called her the little Padawan (reference here the Jedi trainees in Star Wars), I finally realized that her name had been in front of me all along. Anyone familiar with the Disney children’s movie, The Aristocats, should be having an “Aha” moment right.. about… now.

Obviously, I already had Burleose, Toulouse, and Marie… the other three kittens from that movie (in case that fact had alluded you). All I needed was a Duchess… the mother character in the movie. Let me tell you, that name fits her to a tee. Duchess is an absolutely beautiful orange long hair with a personality that is equally as beautiful. She looks every inch the royal “Duchess” and is by far my most loving kitty. She, like Brulee, has never met a stranger and even tolerates the wild and noisy 10-year old boys who often overtake my house.

She – loves – me. And if she’s inside with me, no matter what I am doing, she is in the room with me. I’m sure this gets tiring… putting away groceries and or folding and storing items that have been laundered involves quite a bit of walking. She keeps up though, and always has her eye on where I might be headed so that she can be there for a lap or at least a few head pets. The one exception to this is when she and Brulee get involved in one of their many games of chase. At that point, I am tossed to the side and her favorite “sister” takes center stage. I call her an advocate for Brulee, because she is always close by and only one step behind my “Big Girl,” emulating and imitating! I’m not sure that Brulee realizes that she has her own personal one-kitty army at her every beck and call, but maybe that’s just the way siblings operate.

So that’s it for my kitty menagerie at the time being… five girls, all of whom have followed the light of my neon sign that constantly flashes: “COME HOME WITH ME! I’M A SUCKER FOR CATS!”

Who knows what, or whom, tomorrow will bring to my doorstep.
Odds are, though, it will have four legs, a long tail, and purr when loved!


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi spent her time working in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions.

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