Schwartz came to live with us at a time when I had promised my husband no more cats. Cats are lovely; they are beautiful; they are amazing. They claw the furniture; they don’t always have perfect litter box habits. They sleep on your face. We have enough going on. But, really, he’s as much of a softy as I am, and he didn’t say no. That little black kitten came into a big messy house with three kids and two big bouncy dogs. He met the young dog Cherry face to face, stood up on his hind legs and grabbed her by the head. We named him Schwartz for his powerful nature.
Playing with Sugar was the best. First, you had to find him and catch him. He was a big cat, and even carrying him upstairs might have been something. I was very, very small when I was little. I was so small that when I was in kindergarten, and in first grade, and in every other grade of elementary school, I stood in the class picture on the end in the front row. The year that I was breathing and my stomach is all round and full of air, you could see it. The years that we wore sneakers and socks with our dresses, you could see it. The year that I scratched my arm you could see that, too. Once I got Sugar trapped in my room, I would undress the baby dolls with the flannel night gowns and the sleeping caps. The gown from the little doll fit on Sugar, but he had to wear the bigger hat. Then you tried to make him sleep in the doll beds, but of course he never would. It was then that I discovered all the things you can do to cats: how they react when you put a sock over their head, how they can’t walk if you tie something around their belly, and how fast they can run when they have a dress on. In retrospect, I don’t think I was very nice to my cat Sugar, but I loved him very much, and I can say for sure that if I ever really hurt him he would have scratched me hard and run off. Cats, after all, are hunters. If house cats were bigger and we were smaller, they would hunt us, catch us, play with us, kill us, play with our dead bodies some more, and maybe eat us, but maybe not.