The thing I loved about Luscious the cat so much is that when she was younger, she was adventurous.

Many a warm morning we'd spend walking to my office, she firmly attached to my shoulder via her claws; me not minding a bit. She'd sit royally upon her perch, occasionally uttering a sound at other living creatures (not humans, though). To birds, she's utter a guttural threat; to pets on the ground, an enticing "meeeeowww. Rowwwlrrr." On colder days she'd occupy a gym bag; which was soon replaced with an L.L. Bean canvas boat-bag filled with her toys and a blanket so she could go to work no matter the weather.

The only days she didn't go with me were the days when it poured rain. She did not find being wet a pleasant thing, but regretted not being able to be in the thick of things all day. Rainy days were sleepy days for Luscious. Upon my return home, she'd be up all night running about and looking for attention. A television playing softly in the living room would occupy her those nights, but only after I'd spent plenty of time cuddling with her.

Luscious did not care about cold weather. But snow was something she'd go out and play in for a little while, eat a little of, and then come running inside.

Few of the pets on the ground would pay attention to her on our outings, because they were more interested in what they could smell along their way. The occasional pet would, however, be amazed by this member of the pet culture, balanced upon her owner's shoulder, viewing every bit of scenery from (Heaven forbid) a human's point of view.


At home her behavior went against the conventional wisdom that cats do their own thing. Of course, there are cats who'll allow a person a brief pet and a hello, but then they go about their business; being cats. Luscious was very social. She was dog-like in that she'd follow anyone in the house doing something all around, watching and occasionally getting into trouble. (I really knew that this little cat had guts when the maid demonstrated how she'd attack the vacuum cleaner if not locked in another room while cleaning was going on.) Most animals run in fear of loud noises; Luscious would be right there, wondering what was going on.

My Buddhist sect believes in reincarnation (something I don't necessarily go along with, but that's the way it is). If indeed beings are reincarnated; then that explains a lot about Luscious the cat. She must've been a dog in a previous life. Luscious would lick my hand, my face, and occasionally my legs (which tickled a great deal). Even long after my mother had adopted her and she became a country gentlewoman, she'd run right up to me when I'd visit and lick my face for 5 straight minutes at a time. Another dog-like trait Luscious had was that she'd come when called. Sometimes.

Perhaps it was trust. Luscious feared nothing, because from a young age when she exhibited fear I would notice and hold her and tell her things were alright. Her first fear was the beeper on the microwave. She'd be up on the counter watching the food go 'round and yet run when the timer would go off. After a few weeks' watching her and showing her that the timer would do her no harm, she no longer feared it. Same with air conditioners. But her fearlessness around the vacuum cleaner had us all amazed.

Like Cats and Dogs

My 2 year-old Doberman feared the vacuum terribly, and would hide in the bathroom when cleaning chores were done. Fluffy, the transvestite Puerto Rican self-proclaimed "Dancing Diva" (who was also my maid), used the vacuum cleaner to get even with the large, fearsome dog. Fluffy never really was comfortable around Diana until she realized that with the flip of a switch she could send Diana running into another room. I'd hazard a guess that when Fluffy made lunch for herself, she'd have the vacuum running in the dining room, just so the ever-so-hungry dog wouldn't bother her nor try to get a bite of food.

Diana the dog and Luscious the cat had a peculiar relationship. You can probably imagine my horror when the sounds of a scuffle brought me running into the kitchen and there was Diana, with Luscious's entire head in her mouth. And Luscious was clawing the dog's snout bloody. I feared the worst. But I punished them equally, with a firm "no!" This did little to abate Diana's need to lick the kitten all over. Often, the same scuffling noises would come from the kitchen, Diana would run out first, and poor Luscious would emerge, soaking wet with dog spit. However, Luscious was wily enough later on to jump upon the counter and push things like dishes, cutlery, and even a sugar bowl right on top of the dog. Which, of course, scared the dog enough to send her running into her bathroom hideout. And as valuable as the sugar bowl was, the sight of a seemingly snow-covered black dog running out of the kitchen was good for a laugh. Sadly, we didn't have camera phones back then.

Cats at Work

Luscious had the run of the place where I worked. Everyone loved her. When she needed to relieve herself, she would meow quite loudly and rub against my leg. We'd both go downstairs and into the nightclub and she'd find a large potted plant that was appropriate and do her business there. And bury it. Every three months when the potted plants would go to potted plant heaven, or wherever potted plants go when they're no longer needed as part of the decor, she'd have to get used to sniffing out a new one wherein to do her business. One Christmas she discovered that there were no plants at all. The huge pots had been filled with foam and artificial decorations with electric lights had been installed. That caused panic. A box with kitty litter was set up for her in a service room and she became used to it.

If a disc jockey was setting up, Luscious was the first to be in the booth checking out the boxes of records, and would occasionally jump up on top of the counter and paw at the controls. If she was in a particularly content mood, we could set her on the turntable and watch her, sitting, spinning around for about 30 seconds before she tired of that. The sound engineers showed me how to tape record her own noises. Then we'd play them back, very loudly while she was walking around. The look of confusion and the tail-chasing was absolutely precious.

The bus boys, upon their arrival at work, however, didn't really like having her around. I don't know if it was sanitary reasons or that they were just afraid of cats. One of them used to threaten to toss her into the glass washer. I didn't fire him but did outline the swift physical punishment that would befall him should the cat ever "somehow" end up in the machine, whether it was turned on or not.

Most of the time, Luscious would merely hang out on the windowsill, basking in the sun's warmth and watching the cars go by one floor down. Occasionally visitors would be startled if she were asleep when they came in, and woke up after they'd seated themselves. I really think that she knew that if she delayed any signs of waking for awhile, they'd think she was stuffed. Visitors' reactions ranged from blase to running out of the office in horror.

Luscious Becomes a Country Gentlewoman

When Luscious and I moved to the country, I sincerely thought she'd enjoy it a lot more than the gritty city. She seemed to, at first. But she quickly tired of the garden outside; she was a housecat, plain and simple. I couldn't take her to work with me because my new job involved too much peril for a small cat. I'd often take her on car rides, it turned out she didn't care for that much, either.

Reluctantly, I discussed this situation with my mother one day. Luscious had to have something to do or she'd be bored out of her mind. So Luscious's things were packed up and she moved to a very large house. She enjoyed living there, but enjoyed my frequent visits even more. Years passed, I became busier, and the visits fewer and farther between. She'd become mom and dad's cat, now.

When my father fell ill, Luscious spent most of her time on his bed. She genuinely grieved when he was moved to hospital. She wouldn't leave his bed.

I'm certain that when my mother moved out of that big old house and into her current assisted-living facility, the change was hard on Luscious. By now she was the ripe old age of 23 - amazing for a cat. The Guinness World Record holder, however, was 35.

Luscious is now wherever cats go when their corporeal selves give out. Maybe she's with dad; I don't know. But I can't think of a cat who'd lead a fuller life.

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