Feature Writer Jane Kronheim – The Cat Who Liked Sargento Cheese and Crab Rangoon

This time of year when people are rushing around, crowding each other at the various department stores in search of that desired object or masses of “stuff”, I think fondly of one particular gift that I had the good fortune to embrace almost 20 years ago. This happened when a friend had to vacate her apartment, find various homes for all of her “critters” and then move on to some unknown location.

I was visiting her when all of her “stuff” was strewn around the apartment, when I noticed this mischievous black cat, “Twinkle Toes”, standing on top of the box spring of her bed which had been leaning against a hallway wall. I took one look at this feline character who was flirting with me as he rubbed his nose against the padding, and I suddenly heard myself saying: “I’ll take him!!” I had never had a cat before and while I was growing up we only had dogs: one beloved Irish Setter named Maeve and another smaller pooch named Heidi, a schnauzer. We never had cats.

I don’t know why. Most people will tell you that a house is not a home until there is a cat present somewhere in the environment. I can tell you now, after nearly 18 years with the “Twinks,” it is true. This little guy, who had been abandoned somewhere on Beacon Hill in Boston, was discovered by my friend’s daughter who heard the wee kitty meowing in an alley way. She gathered him up and brought him north to New Hampshire where my friend took him in, along with her loving kitty Mousy, a strange Iguana named Sweet Pea and two ferrets whose names I can’t recall anymore.

But “Twinkle Toes” stole my heart and for many years he was my constant companion. As an artist, I was entranced by this little black kitty who became the muse for many of my paintings and drawings. I even penned a children’s story about the cat who loved to wander in the woods with me as I collected branches for my woodstove. I took numerous photos of the “Twinks” and came up with so many different names for him that I often wondered if my friends thought me mad. He became the Twinkmeister, the poopacatta, Mr.Pussywillows, kitty literature and jaws and claws or prickly paws. The list went on and on.

Along with the unusual nicknames, my special kitty had some favorite foods. They included Sargento Swiss cheese, crab Rangoon, and Kate’s Real Butter. After I would butter the toast in the morning, I let “Twinkie” enjoy a breakfast meal by allowing him to gently lick my “butter fingers.” I think you can just imagine how sweet that was. Over time, a wonderful man returned to my life and Twinkle Toes became a “jelly cat” or very jealous of this gentleman’s presence.
When Twinks and I were on the sofa and this boyfriend would approach, Mr. Twinks would make a scoffing sound or a low grunt at this man’s presence. I had never heard this before so I was shocked at how possessive this cat had become.

Later on my friend and I would laugh with glee remembering those moments as the kitty would come to my rescue on the sofa, curling around on my upper torso in total possessive stance. Eventually Twinkle Toes made friends with my boyfriend and learned to accept him as his own.
Of course it would never be the same, but this gorgeous black cat remained with us till the bitter end when one night Twinkie could no longer breath and met his demise on the basement stairs.

Heartsick I ran to his aid, only to realize that my 19 year old kitty was gone. In tears and sadness I was able to get the kitty to the proper animal hospital where they prepared a special cremation for my Twinkle Toes.

Within a week, I had received a letter from this place, featuring a card with a little purple ribbon, a small poem and the kitty’s paw print emblazoned on the card. I was a total wreck, emerging from the post office, unable to stop the tears from streaming down my face.

This special kitty was indeed a long standing gift I gave to myself, allowing him to come into my small quiet rural world, up on a hill in New Hampshire. Who says that small animals have no meaning or place in our lives? They are the best gift that can possibly exist for all of us.

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