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A special friendship, inspired by cats

In this month’s column, I’d better keep my Torbies, Tabbies and Tuxedos straight, or I could be in for a real cat fight. Actually, this is a story about a very special friendship between two women inspired by loving, published calicos, torbies, tabbies and tuxedos. So, I think I’m safe. It’s also another testament to the positive power of blogging.

 Our tale all began several years ago when the Calico Kids started living with lifelong cat lover, Toni Britton, at the Big Piney Woods of North Idaho’s Selle Valley northeast of Sandpoint.

First, Patches Lady, the current cat queen of the Britton house, got dropped off in 1999. Then, Mittens Pollypaws, known for her purring and fetish for hiding under the bedding, joined the family in 2000 after Toni discovered her while volunteering at the animal shelter.

Later, Toni, her husband Ronnie and the two calicos began to share their beautiful country home with Mistrie Rose, a semi-feral torbie (short for tortoiseshell tabby) and Precious Flower aka Squirt, a silver tabby.  

Eventually, their saga spread, via cat blogging among feline habitats around the world, taking at least one permanent landing in the Detroit-area home of Edsel/The Pooch. Edsel, age 252 in cat years, describes himself as a “DLH Tuxedo (black with white chest) with sparkly, greenish yellow eyes and l-o-o-ong whiskers.

“I’m in charge here,” he states in his blogger profile. He shares his home in Berkley, Mich., with Sue Jackson aka “Edsel’smom Sue,” a vice president of operations for a health promotions company; her husband Steve, an artist; and Casey, a long-haired grey-and-white female feline who resisted Edsel’s arrival for months until her new housemate realized his superior size and took charge.

MomSue has endured some medical challenges over the past couple of years, and Edsel’s blogger connections have helped her through them.

“I woke up in the hospital in May of 2006,” Sue recalls. “A doctor (neurosurgeon) was sitting on my bed... It was a couple of days after I had a seizure and collapsed....I needed surgery for brain cancer the size of a golf ball.

“Toni rallied the troops,” Sue adds. “She started a prayer vigil online in June, 2006. She and some of the other bloggers were amazing in their support. She and I started to email and had an instant rapport.”

 Toni’s www.bigpineywoods.blogspot.com and Sue’s www.edselthepooch.blogspot.com are just two of a growing number of blogs, giving cats their own voices on the World Wide Web.

“I continued to go to cat sites and didn’t know about blogs until I ran across one,” Toni explains. “About three weeks later, I decided it sounded like fun. I think we all enjoy telling things from a cat’s point of view.

“I found Edsel’s site from a link on another cat blog,” Toni adds. “There were about 30 of us when I started in December 2005. Now there are over 200.” Toni’s blog, originally known as the “Calico Kids,” took on its present name when Mistrie and Precious Flower joined the Britton feline family.

As time went by, fast and furious blogging through the perspectives of the Idaho cats and their Detroit friend, along with email correspondence between their humans, inspired a very special visit this summer between Edsel’smom Sue and CalicoMom Toni.

“Toni and I started talking about my visiting probably around the end of 2006,” Sue says, but in April of 2007 an MRI showed ‘activity’ in my brain, and I was told I needed six weeks of radiation and chemo. No trip to Idaho that summer.” The visit was put off until Summer, 2008 as long as Sue’s MRI this past June was a good one.

“I carried an Idaho quarter in my jacket pocket for a couple of months... for good luck,” she adds. After positive news on the MRI, the two women met face to face over the Fourth of July weekend when Sue traveled from Michigan to Spokane Airport where she was told she’d recognize Toni, dressed in all purple.

“I knew she was about my size, with dark hair,” Sue explains. “I walked into the baggage area, saw her, we hugged, and I felt like I was home.” The Brittons saw to it that Sue continued to feel at home throughout the four-day visit. Their North Idaho hospitality included taking Sue to the parade and fireworks, shopping, a Britton family potluck picnic, on drives to the back country and, of course, assigning Mittens Polypaws to act as furry hostess in Sue’s bedroom.

It took a while to charm her way into Mittens’ heart, but by visit’s end, Sue had a permanent feline greeter, always sitting on her bed. Later, when Sue left, Mittens expressed sadness of her new friend’s departure on her blog.

“Momma and Daddy took Edsel’smom Sue to the Spokane airport yesterday morning,” Mittens wrote. “We will miss her so much (especially me). At first I was shy, but she was so mellow and sweet and nice to me... she gives the best tummy rubs imaginable. Edsel is so lucky to have such a wonderful Momma.”

And, how was the overall visit? According to all feline bloggers and humans concerned, it was the real “Cat’s Meow!”

“I would encourage more people to become friends,” Sue stated in an email, while reflecting on her trip to Idaho. “Don’t just look at blogging as a bunch of crazy cat bloggers. Look at these people with whom you have a lot in common as people who can be part of your life.

“I think in today’s world it’s harder to make, and keep, friends than it used to be,” she adds. “Step out on the limb a little.”

If Mittens’ observations are any indicator, Sue and Toni’s reaching out toward each other from afar confirms Sue’s advice.

“Momma says Edsel’sMom was just like she imagined, and that was laffin and laffin and laffin and talking about all you cat bloggers and how they both got started,” Mittens stated in a recent posting. “They talked about happy things and sad things, and I thought they must be best friends the way they hit it off. I was awful sorry to see her leave, but I know Edsel must miss her terribly.”

Photo at right: Edsel’sMom Sue demonstrating the property appreciation for our furry friends.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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