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RUSH: A year ago, a little over a year ago now, the beloved Punkin the cat passed away. After 14 years, kidney failure, which resulted in her refusing to eat because she knew — the vet told us, anyway — that eating would poison her. Instinct told her so she wasn’t eating anything, just withering away, and there was nothing to be done. So we put her to sleep and waited a couple of months and went out and got a new Punkin, an Abyssinian, different color. Punkin was a ruddy. This one is a tawny.

It’s a completely different cat. This one we named Allie. It’s an Abyssinian, but personality-wise, a lunatic. An absolute insane lunatic cat, totally different personality. So much so that we have not let her live in but two rooms of the house, the bedroom and my library. “Liberry,” for those of you in Rio Linda.

The reason is not that we fear she will get lost, because we plugged up all the things that she could sneak into and get lost, you know, down in the foundation of the house. We’ve got all those tunnels and secret passageways plugged from long ago. But shortly after getting her, I guess three months after we got her I’m sitting in my library, and there’s a two-story, two-floor library that’s open from floor to ceiling and the second floor has a banister that runs all the way around it. It’s a rectangle room, the banister runs around. The banister, it’s a hand railing about three, four feet off the ground.

I’m sitting down there on my couch one day and I’m looking up, and she’s on that banister. The banister is two to three inches wide. I’m thinking, how the hell did she get up there? I’m saying, “Oh, my gosh! I hope nobody comes in the door and makes a startling sound that scares her,” because I didn’t want her losing her balance. She’d fall 20 feet. I said, “Gee whiz, how did this happen?”

Prior to that, she had wormed her way through the vertical — I don’t know how to describe this — the vertical bars in the banister to get to the inside ledge up there, which is about six inches. There’s plenty of room there. But she jumped up four feet from the floor. There’s no way to climb. There’s nothing to climb on. She had to jump up there. And if she had lost her balance, she’d have come plummeting down 20 feet and I would never have known it ’til she hit.

So I said, “Okay, roping off the upstairs.” I made a temporary cardboard door preventing her from going upstairs. So she’s been living in two rooms.
We decided over the weekend that this poor cat cannot live her life in two rooms. So we’re gonna open it all up late this afternoon, early this evening. We’re gonna let her out of the bedrooms, open the door and just see what happens. Because if she falls, she falls. Can’t watch her 24/7.

And when I say “insane,” I mean funny insane, just a crazy personality. She plays fetch. She brings me things for me to throw so she’ll go get ’em. And then when I bend down to pick ’em back up after she’s brought it to me she darts at me like she’s trying to get it from me before I can get it. Just the funniest cat. So we’re gonna open up her world this afternoon, and I’m gonna be sitting down there waiting in bated breath, ’cause it’s not just the library.

Inside the front door the same circumstance exists, the second floor foyer. I’m comforted by the fact that I have read stories of cats surviving falls of much — they land on their feet. They’ve got spines of linguine anyway.

Now, I thought of getting pillows and a bunch of stuff to put down there on the floor in case she slips. And, you know, you can’t say anything. You can’t tell a cat “get off of that.” She won’t listen. I mean, it’s impossible.

So that’s what we’re gonna do this afternoon, late this afternoon, unless something comes up. But the poor thing, I mean, can’t live her life in two rooms. You gotta let ’em go at some point, right? It’s like a kid, turning ’em loose, letting ’em go at age 18. You gotta let ’em go. Same thing with a cat.

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