I first met â€œTaffyâ€ in the spring of 2001. She was Aunt Pegâ€™s new cat, and the first cat after the death of Max, a sleek black cat who had taken great pleasure in breaking everything he could get his long tail around. Taffy was a tiny little creature, a cat who could curl up in the open palm of my hand and purr with contentment that all was right with the world.
Now, Peg has a way with animals. They all become absolutely devoted to her. Some, like Tiffany, her tiny little â€œpillow dogâ€ (who died two months ago) are also friendly to others in the family. Most often, they just hide when â€œnewâ€ people wander into the house in Scranton. The two cats she had when I was born, Gypsy and Bandit, were that way. When family came to visit, those cats lived in the spacious closets of Pegâ€™s bedroom, hiding among the shoeboxes and assorted stores.
I met Taffy for a second time in the early summer of â€˜02. Sheâ€™d grown considerably. I drove from Towson to Scranton, and arrived while everyone was gone. My grandmother, who lives with Peg, was at church. Peg, a nurse, was at the hospital. The back door was unlocked, and I made myself at home, watching some TV, and then I heard some scratching. Taffy was in the bathroom, scratching at the door. Foolishly, as I would learn, I opened the door.
Taffy had grown – she was already bigger than Guy, my (at the time) five year old cat – I mean, this cat got HUGE really quickly. Anyway, she takes one look at me, her ears fold back, and she starts growling. And I donâ€™t mean like a â€œHey, youâ€™re in my sun, move onâ€ growl, I mean a â€œI donâ€™t know who you are but Iâ€™m going to fuck you up.â€ She took up a perch on the stairs, refusing to allow me to pass, and taking rather vicious swipes at me with her paw.
Anyway, the point is, I stopped by Pegâ€™s place on my way home from Connecticut. Peg greeted me with a hug, but who was above the cabinets in the kitchen? Taffy. And what did she do upon seeing me? You guessed it! She started growling.