Whiskers was a female Manx out of Nancy Driver’s litter. She came to our house in Jerome AZ as a kitten and lived a long life and happy life there.
She was the only cat I’ve ever known who loved spaghetti. She’d dip her face into the spaghetti strands, chew on them a bit, and come up with a tomato face which she then proceeded to clean with her paws for hours, a look of ecstasy on her face every time a remnant incited her memory buds.
She loved being manhandled by my husband Walter. He liked to pick her up by the ruff of her short neck and shake her a little. She’d go completely limp and hang there, purring a loud breeze. She had the same look of ecstasy when she cleaned spaghetti off her face.
Whiskers loved walking with our son Max on his long rambles. Whiskers never walked with me and only sometimes would accompany Walter and our dog Amanda, but only for about half a block.
When Max was in his mid-teens, he and his friends would sneak off to get stoned on LSD, magic peyote mushrooms and pot but not hard drugs like crack or meth. He got turned off to the hard drugs when he watched his friends insert needles into themselves to get high and watched the sad effects of addiction take over.
One early summer day, just before Max went off to college, one of his friends loaded him up with ‘shrooms and dropped him off at the head of Mescal Canyon, which was one canyon over from the one our house was perched over. He loped a few miles down canyon, slipped off his clothes and climbed into a clear water pool, the one surrounded by burnt sienna crags and a 10-foot waterfall dripping into it. He lost himself in the lilt of the music, the sun rippling the water into crystals, the watery blue of the sky, the coolness of the water on his skin. Nancy Louden celebrated the magic sensuality of that pool in a stained glass painting, which now hangs in Richard and Leigh Martin’s house.
As Max started to climb out and over the canyon wall, he saw a baby rattler shaking his tail at him not five feet from his face. In the same instance that Max felt the first surge of fear and began to drop back into the pool, suddenly, there was Whiskers rushing straight at the rattler, striking before the rattler even knew Whiskers was there. Max heard some scuttling and the next time he dared to look up over the lip of the wall, Whiskers was finishing off the last of the snake, another look of ecstasy on her face. Max has always been in a great deal of wonderment about how Whiskers appeared out of nowhere to save him.
When Whiskers was close to the end of his life, she would hang out for days under Max’s bed, occasionally coming out for a sip of water.
When Whiskers died, we buried her near an old apricot tree. As Walter finished putting the last spade of dirt on her, he heard the benevolent ghosts of our house whisper to him. “Thanks for giving us a cat to be our companion. We’ve been wishing for one for a long time.”