Monday, April 9, 2012

Cleo phone home

“Oh crap,” I say, turning abruptly to face Morgan. “I just made eye contact with Cleo.”

I glance sideways at Cleo where she has been ensconced in her box in the kitchen all morning staring intensely at the ceiling. She is now staring intensely at me.

Her green eyes are quite mesmerizing and I try not to look directly at her again, to let her know I see her. But it’s too late. I watch from the corner of my eye as her round shape rises up from the box on pointed little feet and then moves forward like a balloon sailing across the floor on a current of air.

She never once takes her eyes from me and in my blurry side view I see her mouth open, letting escape a tiny squeak of a half-meow. And then I can’t help it because part of me feels for this little misunderstood cat who from the beginning never quite fit in, and I also think of the time we gave her away for a day. So I look at her and she breaks into a trot, finishes her meow and then lets loose another, more powerful one, and then another. She is circling me now in a well practiced, determined tiptoe, throwing herself against my legs with each turn, staring up at me with those green eyes.

Morgan and I have discussed Cleo at length, working up theories to explain her escalating neuroses, like why she has taken to living in this box filled with scraps of used Christmas wrapping paper, why she stares at the ceiling constantly, and why she has these bouts of desperate neediness, clinging to me like a person drowning. She can’t just sit on my lap she has to claw at my shirt, ram her nose into my face all the while meowing this intense “I have something earth-shattering to tell you,” meow.

We watch her one-day as we sit at the kitchen table drinking tea. She marches around us spouting her crazy ravings and then beelines to my chair, reaches up and pulls on my shirtsleeve, meows pointedly and stares into my eyes before walking away and settling into her box to once again fix her bulging eyes on the ceiling.

“Maybe she’s trying to contact the Mothership,” I say, and then thinking about the dolphins in Douglas Adams’ The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, add, “Maybe she knows the end of the world is coming and she’s trying to warn us.”

A few days later I walk into the living room with Cleo trailing me at an anxious trot. Morgan looks up from his magazine, “I know what it is,” he says with the tone of someone who really does have it all figured out. “The Mothership has told her to stay near you so they know where to find her.” As if I am some kind of beacon for aliens.


I think of this while I stand in the kitchen and Cleo throws herself against my legs. All it takes is a moment of intense attention and she will be fine for a few hours so I reach down and wrap my arms around her balloon-shaped body, lift her a couple of inches off the ground and hug her fiercely. Her purr is quiet and refined and she loses herself in the moment, eyes closed partway, paws kneading at the air, and then I let her go. She wanders back to her box, tramps in amongst the flattened papers that don’t really crinkle anymore, opens her eyes wide to scan the ceiling, settles in, and waits.


  1. Cleo sounds ... interesting. (She's beautiful, by the way!)

    1. Interesting is just a nice way of saying crazy.. and she is! Poor Cleo is so misunderstood. I will tell her you think she is beautiful. That's kind of how she got her name, she was the most classically beautiful out of the six kittens we had.

  2. wow. demented cat! but in a nice way.

    1. Yes, she is a bit "special". I always chalk it up to the day she fell off my shoulder as a kitten. I caught her mid-air on her back and she looked at me with this stunned expression on her face. I don't think she was ever the same since. But she is sweet.

  3. An interesting portrait of Cleo, an usual cat. Both her name and her wild feline heart connect her to ancient Egypt, where cats were revered as gods and goddesses. They were associated with women, almost solely, and the richly painted tombs of women often showed cats sitting beside them. To this day, women can be described as "catty" and not men. Even the word "meow" in Egyptian means cat. Your regal Cleo is not only a goddess in her own right but also a messenger to those very gods/goddesses. She rests royally on her throne gazing skyward, looking to "call home", and simply waits for you to request her messenger services, where she can wisely intercede with the gods on your behalf. Your comments about this independent and strange Cleopatra make perfect sense to me, a cat deeply and mystically connected to the well of time. Cleo an adorable and enchanting feline, though not quite of this world. Have you ever tried to tell her what to do???

  4. Hey Ian I dig the depth of the Egyptian cat...There is no doubt that there is something mystical about cats for most recorded civilizations.

    However if the cat god, or alien overlord ever returns for Cleo, I am suspecting first contact would sound like Sean Penn in the early eighties

    Supreme Being "Cleo Dude..You ready to ride?"
    Cleo "Like totally...for sure"
    Supreme Being "Alright!...Awesome dude"
    Cleo "Can I totally like...take my crinkly box with me"
    Supreme Being "You got a crinkly box...Sweeeeeet, Let me sit in it!"

  5. “Maybe she’s trying to contact the Mothership,”

    OMG, Heather - this post made me burst out laughing!! Hilarious!! Oh I love your crew of unique personalities more every day. I have never heard of Cleo. How did I miss this cat? Or have I just forgotten....
    As I understand Murdoch on a deep level, I also understand Cleo thanks to Linus, who passed away in 2007. We used to say that Linus saw dead people. He would be completely fine, purring away on your lap and then suddenly look off at some point on the wall or out the window, be stricken with a look of terror on his face, and then dash away, taking half your skin with him. Psycho kitty was his pet name. What a sweet weirdo cat he was. I LOVED reading about Cleo. Thanks for starting my Sunday with a hearty laugh.

    1. No kidding, Psycho Kitty is one of Cleo's nicknames too!! Not too far of a stretch I guess.
      Cleo has made a few appearances in my blog, though not nearly as many as the rest of the gang since she has mostly (until recently) been much more anti-social than everyone else. I have often commented on how Cleo is the one I know the least about as she spends great amounts of time in her own little world, sleeping in quiet corners and, at one point, in our crawl space. She has always been a bit odd, but in a very lovable way. She is quite hilarious.