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Lexie Lee 2004–2014

I need a happy ending. I need a break from hurricane talk! Hurricane Irma, eye wall, devastation, Cat 5, path, hurricane force winds, evacuation, animals, storm shutters, batteries, canned food, water, gasoline shortage, price gouging…………… As Hurricane Irma comes closer to Florida, I am reminded of the impact of previous hurricanes on a cat and me. Is it possible to have a happy ending? So into the archives I went.

In September of 2004, a stray cat hung around my tropical backyard after back to back Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne. Sometimes the cat drank out of the pool or slept on a patio chair. I suspected she was displaced by one of the hurricanes, and I wondered what the beautiful Maine Coon mix had endured. Besides missing her bushy tail, her left ear was tipped. I asked around, but no one knew anything about the most likely feral animal. Whenever the cat heard me, she ran. Months passed, but I only caught glimpses.

Then in the summer of 2005, the cat appeared on my property daily. First, I set out a bowl of water.  Water led to leaving food out. Then I sat quietly by the pool and talked to her. After several weeks, the cat jumped into my lap and let me pet her. She was on a mission, and she had captivated me. One night I coaxed the stray into the house. The first attempts were nothing more than the cat coming in and running outside quickly. Gradually, the house visits were extended to a few minutes before departing.  When I moved the food inside, the cat stayed longer. The cat cautiously explored the three levels of the house over several weeks. We were slowly bonding. What I didn’t expect was that our bond was going to be tested by another hurricane.

In October of 2005, I had to make storm preparations for Hurricane Wilma’s visit. While the cat was in the kitchen finishing her breakfast, I ran up the lower level stairs. When she heard me hit the top step and saw my black shoes, I frightened her. She bolted out a weakly latched back door and vanished!

The neighborhood was buzzing with sounds of power tools installing hurricane protection. She was highly sensitive to noises. I was frantic and could not believe she had escaped the day before the storm. My efforts to find her were futile. She did not come back to the house in the evening at the usual feeding time. The unrecognizable patio had been stripped of every table, chair, pot, and plant, and the house was shuttered.

Hurricane Wilma hammered us the following day. I could not stop thinking about the cat and wondering where she was. I prayed for her safety. My neighbors saw her clinging to a tree during the storm, but they had not seen her in the aftermath. I could not imagine her hanging onto a limb during the powerful winds and surviving. Two days later, as I cleaned leaves out of the pool, my dear sweet kitty emerged from the landscaping. I was stunned. I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to the house. Thankfully, she was unharmed.

My stray hurricane cat was still nameless. After the cat survived the storm, she had me! Having recently read True Believer by Nicholas Sparks, I was intrigued with the librarian’s name, Lexie. I learned Lexie was of Greek origin and was the feminine form of Alexander. It meant defender or helper of mankind. Well, the cat had certainly been defending my backyard for a long time. She also helped me complete the grieving process for my cat friend Katarina. Maybe I was on to something!

All my previous cats had been named singular names like Noelle, Tatianna, Taittinger, Marnie and Katarina. I wanted a unique two-part name and added Lee. The two names were lively and suited the stray cat’s personality. It was also fun to shorten Lexie Lee to Lex.  So Lexie Lee settled into exclusive indoor living quite naturally after clinging to a tree during ferocious winds and being blown into my yard not once but twice. We were blessed to share an extraordinary bond for ten years.

The above story was published in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University Catnip Newsletter in January 2010, and I adapted it for this blog

Blessings!

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Lexie Lee

Lexie Lee

In tribute to my beloved Lexie Lee, here is one of my favorite columns published in 2010. She had lots of personality as you will see from her views on a housekeeper in her space!

Every other Monday there is commotion at the house—and not because of me. Mom Linda has a housekeeper. She tells me how fortunate she is to have found this person and how she’s a godsend. Well, I have a thing or two to say about this. I don’t like Monday mornings because I have to hide under the bed—almost before I have eaten. I scare easily by people I don’t know. Last Monday I sat in the picture window and watched her car drive in. I knew it was the Monday morning intruder (also known as Jennifer) because I have seen this funny looking car many times. I hesitated a few seconds. Should I go or should I stay today? Mom Linda tried to talk me into staying. But I thought it best to scurry upstairs.

For several months, I have gone to the bedroom. Mom Linda brings up my food and water, so it is not too bad. Every hour or so she comes in the room, peeks under the bed, and tells me what time it is. Like I really care! She says things like Jennifer will leave in one more hour, or hang in there just another half-hour sweetie.

A month ago I crawled out from under the bed and got on top of it. Jennifer surprised me when she walked into the room, and I did not have time to run. She petted me, and told me I was a pretty kitty. Well, tell me something I don’t already know! But I did not bite her. She went about her business, and I thought it was best to get back under the bed. Just in case, you know.

But I am getting braver. Recently I ventured out from under the bed again. Jennifer was cleaning the bedroom and making too much noise. I can’t understand why it’s so noisy to sweep up my fur. I went to find Mom Linda and she was eating breakfast. I timed that just right and got a couple licks of milk. But the next thing I knew Jennifer was cleaning the living room. Well, I have another name for it—she was messing with my favorite stuff. So I went back upstairs where it was quieter.

Jennifer likes to move Mom Linda’s things around, redecorating I think it is called. Well, I like things the way they are. I have special tables that I sleep on. She put knickknacks on a table that I use to catapult (isn’t that a cool word—I looked it up in the dictionary!) up into a windowsill. The nerve of her! Of course Mom Linda loves the changes and wonders why she didn’t think of them. But she promised to clear the table soon.

Jennifer finally replaced a tablecloth on coffee table where I hide and jump out and scare Mom Linda. She decided one day that it needed washing (too much of my beautiful fur on it) and the cloth disappeared for a long time. I didn’t think I would ever see it again! What I really need stopped is Jennifer moving my toys around. I know where everything is. There are good reasons why the gray mouse is under the couch and why the black spider is on my perch. Some days I am just not in the mood to play hide-and- seek after she leaves.

Mom Linda says I am doing fine around Jennifer. I just need to see her more. I am going to try harder because she is so happy to have a clean house! And a happy Mom Linda makes for a happy household which includes me!

Five Paws Up!

I fit in the shoe box. Really I do! My fur hangs over.

I fit in the shoe box. Really I do! My fur hangs over.

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