Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How the Kracker Cats came to be, part 6: The Whole Kitten Kaboodle takes control

Nabysko, Tryskuit and Kaboodle.

Synopsis: I, a despiser of cats, dreamed about a kitten; I flew home from Point Hope to see the kitten step out of my dream into real life; Nabysko argued that we should keep the kitten. I said "no!" To explain how I had been brainwashed to believe that I despised cats, I recounted childhood pet tradgedies involving a duckling, a robin, a kitten and a puppy.

"Please, Daddy, please? Mom thinks Kitty is pretty," Nabysko pleaded from the porch. It was only now beginning to dawn on me that my wife and children had met this kitten before, probably while I was still in Point Hope, or flying home.

"Go get me some more ham," I told Nabysko.

She scurried into the house, then quickly returned, gripping a 12-ounce package of lunch meat. The kitten looked incapable of taking big bites. I opened the package, then tore off a tiny piece of ham. I held it out to the kitten. Gingerly, nose twitching, head bobbing lightly it sniffed the food, then took the offering. It ate that ham in a way that made even one so hardhearted towards as myself feel sympathy.

Nabysko laughed. I tore off more ham. The process repeated itself. "Let me feed Kitty, Daddy!" Nabysko said, grabbing the ham from me. She tore it into little pieces, and forced herself between the kitten and me. I felt a little annoyed -- I wanted to feed the kitten! I thought about pushing Nabysko aside, but I figured that she might protest and cause her mother to become upset with me.

Nabysko would hold out a piece of ham, then, squealing with delight, recoil her arm as the little feline pierced the meat with its sharp canines and took it from her.

"Maybe that's enough ham," I said after she had fed the kitten about five small pieces. "Maybe it's too small to eat much meat. We better give it some milk." Nabysko quickly retrieved a carton of milk and a small bowl from inside the house. I poured the milk. The kitten went for it.

"Yep," Nabysko purred. "Looks like it's our kitty now."

Kaboodle, Nabysko, Tryskuit. My darling daughters! How did you grow so fast? Our beautiful first cat! We knew so little about cats - only that we loved you.

"Nabysko, we can't keep this cat," I said gently, trying to think of another reason. "You might get ringworm."

"I won't get ringworm," Nabysko said stubbornly. "You'll get ringworm if we don't keep Kitty."

Nabysko knew nothing of this childhood affliction that had so tortuously beset the child me, given to me by a treacherous kitten, and I did not know how to tell her.

"Daddy, please!"

“No,” I said emphatically. “We cannot keep the kitten.” At some point, we got up, went into the house and closed the door upon the kitten.

Come the next morning, I rushed to the back door, worried, but was relieved to see the kitten sitting on the porch. And so, as I insisted that we could not keep it, and Sunflower did the same, we began to feed the kitten regularly, to give it milk and water.

And then, on another day not long after, I again found myself sitting on the back porch with the kitten and Nabysko. Tryskuit was with us as well.

“Daddy,” Tryskuit stated emphatically. “We must keep this kitten. She needs a home. See how she loves us, Daddy? And we love her. All of us. You too. I can tell, no matter what you say.”

“Yes, Daddy,” Nabysko took up the argument. “You love her, too. We must keep the kitten.”

"I don't know," I said. "It's got a little more meat on its bones, but it's still mighty skinny. It would hardly make a good meal."


The girls knew that I regularly ate the flesh of many animals not found in stores -- whale, seal, polar bear, black bear, grizzly bear, beaver, muskrat, walrus. When we lived in the Lower 48, there were raccoon, skunk, rattlesnake, frogs -- I'd eaten them all, and all had proven tasty and healthy.

"Why not a cat?" I taunted them. "Surely, if properly prepared, a cat should prove delicious. I heard they taste just like rattlesnake, which, as everybody knows, tastes just like chicken."


Kaboodle sleeps on the bed I share with Sunflower.

Then came the arguments over names.

I suggested "Brunch . . . cooked with onions."

This was voted down.

"We're not going to eat her for breakfast, we're not going to eat her for lunch, or in between either," Tryskuit retorted.


Somewhere along the line, somebody had investigated the space between the kitten's hind legs and had not found much there but fur and so had concluded it was female. The kitten liked to sleep stretched out on its back, legs spread. I noticed nothing to contradict this observation.

"Well, darn it." I groped for a bad pun. "Let's just throw the whole kitten kaboodle into the stewpot."

"Kitten Kaboodle," Nabysko laughed. "The Whole Kitten Kaboodle!" From that day forward the kitten became known as:

“The Whole Kitten, Kaboodle.”

"Kitten Kaboodle.""Kaboodle."


The name Kaboodle offered several culinary possibilities, which I tried out on the girls. There was "Kaboodle and Noodles," "Oodles of Kaboodle," "Kaboodle Strudel" and, in a scrumptious cross-blending of species, "Minced Poodle and Kaboodle."

Toast Ed and Kaboodle nap on the couch.

As for Kaboodle, she spent all her time outside. She was not our cat after all, but only a visitor whose presence I barely tolerated. So why would I allow her into the house. Furthermore, she made no attempt whatsover to enter the house. If the door was open, she would stop politely at the threshold.

If Kaboodle wasn't on the front porch, she was under it, or on the back porch, or under the upside-down canoe. I reasoned that she needed some kind of shelter for the days of rain. We kept an old wooden, cable, spool with a large, cylindrical hollow in in the middle of it in the back yard. I build a cat sized home for her inside that cylinder and padded the floor with warmi blankets.

I then stuffed Kaboodle inside to show her that she had an exceptionally nice and cozy home in there. She promptly jumped out, and never stepped in again. Any other small place, even with nothing but rocks to lie on, would do, but my special gift was rejected.

One morning, a neighbor girl showed up at our house, scooped up Kaboodle, said this was her cat, and took her home. In the afternoon, Kaboodle returned. I then made the girls return Kaboodle to her rightful owner repeatedly. This process repeated itself several times.

"You can keep her," the girl told Tryskuit the next time we saw her. "We don't really want that cat. That cat is just trouble! I don’t even like that cat."

Neither Sunflower nor I had yet agreed that the cat could actually stay with us. In fact, when asked, I continued to insist that we could not keep her.

The weather was nice now, but winter wasn't far away. Living on the porch, Kaboodle soon would find herself facing temperatures far below zero.

One day, after she had been with us for about three weeks, Kaboodle followed me to the door where, as usual, she stopped and sat down at the threshold. I stepped inside, then turned to face her.

"Well," I said, "you might as well come inside. We can't leave you out there to freeze to death come winter."

Kaboodle's ears perked up. A look of pleased disbelief lit her face. I was a little stunned myself, for it appeared as though she understood exactly what I had said.

"Me?" she seemed to be asking, "Me? You are inviting me to come into your lair, where only humans are allowed to tread?"

"Yes," I motioned. "You. C'mon in."

Kaboodle stood up, raised her tail high into the air, pranced inside and looked around. Our house was now hers and she would be quick to take possession of it and to claim dominion over all its occupants.

Now every member of the family, from little Nabysko up to Toast Ed, became incapable of carrying on a conversation without somehow bringing the cat into it.

Toast Ed would return from pitching an American Legion baseball game and, if he did not see Kaboodle, would enter the house with a worried expression on his face. "Where's the cat?"

"Don't worry," his mother would say. "It's around here somewhere." Although he was entering his junior year, and prided himself on being one of the toughest football players at Wasilla High School, the sight of Toast Ed curled up on the couch sleeping with the cat curled up atop him or cuddled in his arms became a common one.

Fifteen-year-old Rye would run about the house dragging a string behind him, the cat happily in pursuit.
Thirteen-year-old Fire would engage in wrestling matches with the cat.

At night, Kaboodle would leap onto the top bunk with Tryskuit, stretch out on her long locks and go to sleep. As for Nabysko, every sentence became "kitty this" and "kitty that." Each night before going to bed, she and Tryskuit would ask me to tell them a cat story. I would then sit down on the bottom bunk with Nabysko, create a character and then tell its story.

I was always just as curious as the girls were to find out how these stories would develop and then end.

Tryskuit and Nabysko became obsessed with cat books, cat calendars, cat pillows, cat cards, cat cups, plastic cats, ceramic cats. And I, who so despised all these things, happily purchased all these things for them.

I bought more cat knick-knacks than was healthy, more than I could afford.

Kaboodle soon began to assist me in my work.


Zippy, Sadie and Speedy said...

Hahahaha...smitten by the kitten! I spent most of my childhood and early teen on my Grandparents dairy farm in Michigans Upper Peninsula (read:cold, snow and very short summers) they kept barncats almost always the vet would do "meatball" surgery and neuter them in about 20 minutes. On spring a pregnant cat showed up and proceeded to give birth to three kittens and then die. Grampa built them a warming pen and we fed them with a syringe. We lost two and when the last one was six moths old he repeatedly told me "that's a barn cat, he can't be in the house" but as it got colder outside he said "only on the porch, not inside the house" no one had said a word. One morning we got up and found El Gato in a basket lined with towels next to the wood stove. Yeah, Grampa came in from the barn the night before and decided it was to cold for the cat on the porch...he played at being hard hearted but he was just a pile of mush. Al live to be 22 and accompanied us on our chores every day including his last one on this earth.

Grahamn Kracker said...

I wish I could have photographed your grandpa and Al, together on a frosty day, doing chores.