Gremmy (her nickname) was my first kitty after my divorce. My friend Larry brought her home to me and my daughter Lauren who was about 6 years old at that time. We named her Heidi at first. 

GremmyLater, her name became Gremmy after we saw the movie Gremlins and decided that her temperament was more like the gremlins in that movie i.e. little demons.

She was almost all black with some white on her chin and belly. Gremmy was the tiniest little kitten I'd ever had. I estimated that she was about two weeks old. Of course, I called a veterinarian for some guidance.  We bottle-fed her every two to four hours round the clock, using a preemie nipple and feeder until she progressed to soft canned food.

Gremmy was a feisty little cat right from the start. She growled if anyone touched her bottle and held it between her paws while lying on her back in our laps. She swatted at us if we touched her or her food while she was eating.

She also had rules about contact with her body. I could pet her once or twice, but at the third time she'd swipe at me and frequently made contact.

As she matured she developed more rules. One could pet her head as far as her neck, but beyond that she'd twist around and bite. One more rule: never touch her paws for any reason. If someone was fool enough to try, that person would bleed. Similar rules prevailed about belly-touching too.

She also had a rule about noises. Very loud or high pitched sounds seemed to irritate her, and she would run from them. However, if the sound came from a person, such as my daughter, Gremmy would jump at her.

When we bought our house and moved half a mile away, Gremmy was rather disgruntled. We brought her to see the house while we cleaned and painted, hoping this preview would help her adjust to it more easily when we moved in. She whined and howled throughout the visit. It went on all day, every time we brought her there. She made it quite clear that she did not want to move.

After the move Gremmy had a hard time with it for a few weeks. She had been an indoor/outdoor kitty when we lived in the apartment. We continued with that after the move, but we didn't let her out right away.

After several days of enduring all her crying and meowing, we let her out. She didn't come home. We were quite worried until we got a call from our neighbour in our previous apartment building. She said Gremmy was outside meowing and waiting to get into our old apartment.

We drove to get her and she jumped right into the car. We laughed all the way home.

That was the start of a new routine for about two weeks. As soon as we would let Gremmy outside, she'd leave. If she wasn't home by five in the evening, we went to get her. There she'd be, waiting for us, looking like, "Well, here's my ride. Gotta go."  She would actually hop into the car.

After about twelve days of this we developed a plan. The next time our neighbor called, we told her we would be waiting for about an hour to see if Gremmy came home. My neighbor must have been worried because she asked me to call her if Gremmy did come home so she would know the kitty was safe. About thirty minutes later Gremmy showed up howling, as though she were quite annoyed that we hadn't picked her up. That was the last time she went visiting.

Gremmy lived to be nineteen years old and died of liver cancer or liver failure. In her last two or three years she really mellowed. She decided to be an indoor-only cat, slept on the bed with me, and purred a lot.

I began to accumulate more cats a year or two after we bought our house. They just seemed to arrive at my door. Gremmy never liked the new guys. She hissed and growled at all of them just to let them know who was boss. She never tried to attack them. Vocalization was her technique: hiss, growl, and a dramatic exit. Most of the new cats learned to ignore her.

So throughout her life, even with five to eight cats in residence, Gremmy remained a solitary kitty in my home. She did seem to like me, and as she got older, she actually allowed me to trim her claws despite her rule against paw touching.


Linda Gavitt is a registered nurse working mostly in maternity for the last 33 years at the same hospital in Connecticut. She is currently unemployed and looking for work. She has four cats -- three boys and one little girl. They have international names: Seamus, Giuseppi, Yoshie, and Chloe Grace. They all get along fine, playing and chasing each other. She has one daughter and three grandchildren in Florida. All are animal lovers.

This story first appeared in and Linda gave me kind permission to publish it on the website.


Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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