Meet Jane Toombs and Kinko...
Cat's name: Kinko
Age : 17
How long have you had the cat?: Since she was a kitten.
Where did you get the cat?: Private home. The lady put seven kittens down in front of us and this white calico with the black tail walked straight toward Elmer and me, then sat down to check us over She’d picked us out, so of course we had to take her home.
Favorite pastime: Kinko used to be hang on the back of a wooden chair batting at her tail, She still does this occasionally even as an old lady.
Interesting quirks? Kinko’s not really fond of anyone except us--Elmer and me. She’s learned to be a great traveler in her cat carrier because we always took her when we went places. She’s been everywhere. But she always wanted to be safely in the carrier, never outside it when in the car.
How does he or she like being a writer's cat? She curls up in an adjacent chair so she can keep an eye on me, making a remark now and then so I know she’s still there. She isn’t interested in in what I’m doing, just wants to be close by.
Has he/she ever been in one of your books?: Not her, but I do put cats in my books.
Anything you else you might want to say about your cat or your cat about you?
Both Elmer and I have been cat people from the get-go. I got my first cat, a black and white tom, when I was four. My father, a Conservation Officer at the time, picked him up in the woods as a half-starved kitten who’d tried to climb up his pants leg, named him Merriweather, because that was the name of the town he was near and brought him home to me. Merriweather grew up, spent nights out tom-catting around and come home tired out. I’d put a doll bonnet on him and wheel him around the house in my doll buggy. He’d sleep soundly all the while. I loved him dearly and I’ve never been without a cat since. And the first story I ever wrote at seven was about Merriweather.
Elmer grew up on a farm where there were cats in the barn to keep down the mice. His mother would let the kids in the family bring kittens in the house to play with, but they always were banished back to the barn at night.
Note: Kinko survived surgery for a cancer on her eyelid three years ago. The vet told us white-faced cats tend to get this from lying in the sun. He removed it without her losing the eye and, yes, it was malignant, but not the kind that metastasizes, thank heaven. He calls her his miracle cat.
Other cats: The only really vocal cats I’ve had in my eighty-six years were Siamese. I loved how they’d talk to me. They were smart as well. I had a big tom named Zorro who once, when we went from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to California for Christmas, we had shut in the basement where his sandbox and food were. We had a neighbor check on him and give him more food while we were gone.
Well, every time the neighbor came in, Zorro would happily greet him at the door as he entered the house. He couldn’t figure this out because he shut him back into the basement every time he left. Once day he pretended he was leaving and snuck back in to stay and watch, Pretty soon he noticed the doorknob of the basement door jiggling. Then it started turning, the door opened and out Zorro came. Checking inside the basement door, he noticed a small shelf with nothing on it right beside the doorknob on the stair landing. Ah, problem solved. Zorro had gotten onto the shelf and learned to paw at the doorknob until it finally opened and out he came. With the door ajar he was free to use the sandbox or eat whenever he felt like it.
Then there was my female Siamese we finally named Kitty because the kids couldn’t agree on a name. After I was divorced and living alone with the kids, who were in school, Kitty decided it was time to have her kittens. They would be Siamese, I knew, because when she went into heat a male Siamese appeared out of nowhere and mated with her before leaving. I was headed out the door, but she followed me, obviously in the throes of birth. So I walked back to her birth box and sat on the floor. She got back in. I thought maybe after she had one kitten she’d be content to stay there while the rest were born. No such luck.
The first kitten was born and she cleaned him up. By then another was being born, a much smaller one than the first, so I figured it had to be the runt. Well, she wouldn’t clean this kitten up no matter how many times I put it under her nose. Three more were born and cleaned up. When I finally again put the poor little runt under her nose after she was through with the others, she finally cleaned him up. Then I gently put him where he could reach a free nipple. He found it and began to suck. After than Kitty accepted him as part of her brood.
He turned out to be a feisty little thing despite having the sniffles, a crook in his tail and crossed-eyes--all common afflictions in Siamese. I wondered later if somehow Kitty knew he was defective. Still, as they grew older, though smaller, he held his own against the tumble mock fights with all his brothers. Yes, they were all males--not uncommon with Siamese litters.
When the time came to give them away, I decided to sell them for a dollar each, which would pay for the ad in the paper. All but the runt were snapped up quickly. I had decided I’d have to keep him, when a woman called me and said she’d been away and she’d just seen the ad in an old paper. Her daughter had been begging for a Siamese kitten, but all they’d seen had been too expensive. I told her about his defects, saying that’s why he was left over. She said it didn’t matter. When they arrived, the little runt, tail up, walked right up to the little girl and charmed her. They left with her cuddling him to her and the kitten purring loudly. I didn’t want to take the dollar, but the mother insisted.
“It’s like he was saved for us,” she said.
Which brought tears to my eyes.