I first heard about Miss Marple from other rescuers. MM had arrived at a crowded suburban pound where she was recorded as a senior of eight years with allergy issues. ‘Fleabitten’ was mentioned. It conjured up visions of a raggedy moth eaten cat. Obviously the cards were stacked against her when you consider the competition of young attractive adults and kittens galore.
Other than being intrigued by her name I did not pay much attention. Imagination kicked in though, as it is apt to do and visions of a cat detective floated through my head. Murder investigations, following the clues, pince nez on a cat. A wise and logical mind, clever deductions made by a super intelligent and shrewd feline.
I heard there was a move afoot by rescue groups to help her. A few complications evolved and the ‘save’ fell through at which point nobody expected her to make it out alive.
We were full at the time, a chronic condition experienced by most rescues.
There are varying degrees of full though and an empty crate seemed preferable to death.
So I put my hand up to take her until something could be worked out and that was five years ago. Really! what could go wrong?
When I arrived at the pound to pick her up I was told she had escaped. I thought that would be the end of that and regrettably nobody would hear of a cat called Miss Marple again. I was quite wrong though, MM was later found in the kitten section, doing, I assume, some investigative work. Obviously their menu was superior.
On first sight Miss Marple appeared to be your average garden variety of tabby, a rather unremarkable feline but I’m no fool and understand that a super sleuth needs to blend in to her environment. I was however, struck by the big ears and the suspicious green eyes, no doubt essential tools of trade.
There emerged another problem. MM appeared to be highly strung. There again, what super sleuth does not live on their nerves I ask?
Apparently she did not at first understand this swapping of prisons and misunderstood her incarceration to be an arrest.
Our next step was to get a health check so we took her to our vet. There I met a new trainee and told her about the flea allergy and possible need for Cortisone.
‘No Cortisone!!’ she said loudly, jutting her chin.
‘she get fleas from you!!’
‘Yes! she get fleas from YOU!’
‘She get fleas from your HOUSE!!’
‘No, she came from the pound’
We were not off to a good start.
The senior vet came in to examine her, opened her mouth and exclaimed at the brilliance of her teeth. Which toothypegs Miss Marple was getting ready to use if needs be.
‘How can she be that old and have such good teeth?’
Displaying her paperwork from the pound which gave her birth date and year, I did wonder how anyone who had her for so long could surrender her to a high kill pound.
Miss Marple came home with a clean bill of health and after her quarantine period was allowed to ‘mingle’. It was around that time when I was busy in other parts of the house that I kept hearing screams from other cats. It seemed Miss Marple was addicted to crime. I came to realize that MM did not like her own species at all. Amazing really when you realize she continued to live amongst them for these past years. They, however, learned to avoid her, much like one dodges a cranky colleague in various walks of life.
We planned to put her up for adoption but soon found out it would not be that simple. She appeared to have ‘characteristics’ that would not be too attractive. She loved to sit on our laps but once ensconsed there refused to move off if we needed to get up.
In the early stages she simply bounced back on, we put her down, she bounced back. We had acquired a bungy jumping cat it seemed. Soon though, she developed a better technique, consisting of a blood curdling growl and a fixed maniacal stare, which she turned, glassy eyed upon the perpetrator upon whose lap she was lying. There became the need to ‘talk her down’ while one of us appealed to the other for urgent help. It was the way she hung on to vulnerable flesh with extended claws that complicated matters.
Once the talons were somehow disconnected, woe betide the cat or cats in the near vicinity. Charging at them and slicing the air around their body parts like a true sword fighter because....it must be their fault! Afterwards the run with hunched back and tippy toes. A person has to laugh. Muffled of course for obvious reasons.
There was playtime for her. Tearing around the carpet with her prey... a piece of paper or fluff. Once I was amazed to see her play ball with a one year old kitten. The ball was sent back and forth between them with a well judged tap on her behalf. I felt so proud of her.
Miss Marple and I, we‘ve had a good relationship in spite of everything. You have to have been an outsider to understand what it feels like. These days we have headbutts together, discussions, extended talks which she loves. I once interviewed her on film. She didn’t say much but it was a bit of fun. Off camera she meows loudly with her orders and I run to fill them. There is still lap time and the talons are alive and well. Five years have passed so quickly. We continue to have ‘chats’ and sometime arguments about claw trimming, medicines, flea treatments and the like none of which she claims are requirements for a retired sleuth.
Miss Marple, the spice of (my) life is a what we call a ‘sanctuary cat.’
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