History is rife with stories of legendary opponents. Hannibal had Scipio, Washington had Howe, Grant had Lee and Patton had Rommel. I had Jasmine.
I met Jasmine in 1994 when my daughter decided that she needed a kitten to replace Peaches, her pet cat that had escaped while on a trip to the vet. From the very beginning, Jasmine was an odd cat. Her heritage was mixed; part Siamese, part tabby and part Japanese Ninja. She was a pretty cat with an evil personality that knew no bounds.
The first time that I picked her up, she sat in my hand like a fuzzy ball of fur. I petted, she purred and then she bit my finger, jumped away and disappeared under the couch. That was an omen. If I’d fed her to one of the dogs then, it would have saved me nineteen years of grief.
Actually, the first two years weren’t all that bad because Kristin was still at home. Oh, there were times that I wanted to strangle Jasmine, like when she’d tear through the house at 3 AM flying from one piece of furniture to the next and toppling over two or three lamps in the process, but generally speaking she left me alone.
Then, in 1996 Kristin went away to college. Just as a side note to parents who might be thinking of letting a high school age child get a new pet, make sure that it’s one with a short life span. The hidden truth is: pets NEVER move out when the children do.
At that point, Jasmine became my cat. Why would that happen, you ask. Well, when it became obvious that Jasmine was never going to be the “lap cat” that Kristin wanted her to be, my daughter got a second cat—Kallie. Kallie was indeed a sweet, purring lap kitty that wanted nothing more in life than to be petted and fed. When Kristin left Jasmine behind, she also left Kallie behind. Kallie adopted my wife and the Tasmanian Devil adopted me. “Sigh.”
There’s no way that I can adequately describe the depth of Jasmine’s depravity. Over the seventeen years that she was mine, she delighted in torturing me in ways many and varied. Like wine, her evilness aged to a fine vintage as time went on. If she was in a conciliatory mood, she might limit her assaults to simply biting my Achilles tendon as I walked past her in the hallway. If she was in a more adventurous mood, she would hide behind a chair at night and jump between my feet as I waddled to the bathroom at 2:00 AM, sending me crashing painfully to the floor. Pain and humiliation were her stock in trade. If she had been human, she probably would have made a good dominatrix.
She also had no fear of reprisal. I remember one time, when I heard her hacking up a hair ball, I glanced over and saw her with her head buried in my shoe. As I looked at her in disbelief, she returned my stare with a face that said, “It was in there or on the new carpet, which would you rather clean?”
Another time, I was lying on the family room floor with my head on a pillow watching TV. The phone rang and I got up to answer it. When I returned and lay back down I found that my pillow was soaking wet. Jasmine was two feet away licking her paw and, when I heaved the urine soaked pillow at her, she deftly ducked and meowed, “It’s not my fault the litter box is upstairs.”
Jasmine did have one adversary she respected—Sadie, our Cocker Spaniel. Jasmine was about eight years old when Sadie rode into town and, almost from the first day, Sadie assumed the role of town sheriff. While Sadie was a pup, the power struggle was amusing to watch, but Sadie grew fast and grew big. By the time she was a year old, there was no doubt which of the two ruled the house.
In those years, Sadie was fun loving and boisterous during the day, but at night she liked to sleep. Being creatures of the night, cats spend nighttime tearing through the house making noise and creating mischief. Sadie hated noise and wasn’t all that fond of mischief.
One of Jasmine’s favorite pastimes was torturing the sweet and meek Kallie. She would chase her mercilessly with the end goal of cornering Kallie in the hallway and terrorizing the poor tabby until she rolled into a whimpering fetal ball. If I was around when that happened, I put a temporary stop to it. On one occasion, it was Sadie who came to the rescue.
Late one evening both cats had been tearing through the house for over an hour. Kallie was having a good day and for the most part she had stayed ahead of Jasmine and away from the boxed canyon in the hallway. Sadie was lying in a corner, doing her best to go to sleep. Eventually, Jasmine herded Kallie into the hall and cornered her at one end. I heard Kallie’s plaintive wails as Jasmine hissed and pawed at her ruthlessly. Just as I got up to stop the carnage, I saw Sadie plodding down the hall—Sadie is the Abrams Tank version of a Cocker Spaniel.
When Sadie reached the fighting pair of cats, she stopped behind Jasmine, reached out, curled her paw around Jasmine’s body and heaved her against the wall. Jasmine bounced off of the wall, rolled and came up claws out and hissing. Sadie widened her stance and growled once. Jasmine stopped, retracted her claws and slowly backed away. Sadie growled once more, turned around and then waddled back to her corner to retire for the night. From that day on, Kallie never slept more than a few feet away from Sadie’s bed.
As the years went on Jasmine and I developed a grudging respect for each other. Her bites to my ankle drew less blood and I threw things at her with less frequency. She spent less time on the kitchen counter and more time curled up beside me while I wrote. Occasionally, she’d meow as I typed and I’d re-read the last few sentences. As often as not, I’d find that I left out a comma or forgot to capitalize someone’s name. She was a pretty good copy editor.
This week, she went off her feed, an unusual event for a cat that lived to eat, and we took her to the vet. Her heart was fine, her kidneys were fine, her liver was fine and she didn’t have any lumps anywhere. The only thing he found was that she had a low potassium level and was a little dehydrated. He gave her some fluids and that perked her up a bit. As a precaution he decided to keep her over night. In the morning she seemed fine but, when they returned to her cage after doing a final blood test, they found that she had gone to sleep peacefully for the last time. The vet said that it was just her time.
They say that all dogs go to heaven and I suspect that’s true of cats too. Except, I have this vision of Jasmine slowly walking over the rainbow bridge while the Bridge Keeper is frantically paging through the rule book. As she gets closer, Saint Peter walks over and says to his assistant. “What are you doing young man?”
The Bridge Keeper stops his frantic search just long enough to say, “I’m looking for a loop hole. There has to be a loophole somewhere!”
Smiling, Saint Peter replies, “Let her pass Bridge Keeper. Sadie will be here in a few years. We’ll be fine after that.”
Take care Jasmine. Please don’t pee on anyone’s pillow. Angels don’t like that and making an angel mad is a really bad move.