After nearly fifty years living alongside cats, you wouldn’t be wrong to label beloved author Dee Ready a feline aficionado. The following is Ready’s experiences from her own perspective, revealing her feline inspirations, her deeply personal connection to cats, and how each of her books came to be.
When Dulcy and I first met, she selected me as her human. I readily became her slave. After saying goodbye to her littermates, I carried her in the palm of my hand to the three-room apartment where we became a family of two.
She proceeded to train me to recognize and respond to her needs. These she voiced with meow, yowl, mew. Or conveyed with the tilted tip of her tail, the soft pad of her paw, the laid-back flick of her ears.
A year later—when I rescued a kitten whom I named Bartleby–she sulked. Yet despite her displeasure, Dulcy adopted this long-haired, champagne-colored kitten. Undaunted, Dulcy taught him the proper decorum for a feline who was second-in-command to the real monarch of our home—Dulcy herself. Eight years later, Dulcy and I buried our beloved Bartleby in the backyard and set a polished stone on his grave.
Another eight years passed. It was then that Dulcy died of kidney failure. In the beginning of our relationship, I belonged to her, but she belonged to no one. By the time of her death, however, she’d accepted that we belonged to one another: I was hers; she was mine.
Those years we spent together became the book A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. Two days after she died, she began to give me this gift. Waking from deep sleep, I felt compelled to go to the computer. Bemused, I placed my hands on the keyboard. Unbidden, my fingers began to move.
On the monitor, these words appeared: “At the end, all that matters is love. My love for my human and hers for me. I have planted the memories of our life together in her heart. She will find them there when I am gone and they will comfort her.”
This past year marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. For the anniversary edition of the book, I wrote an introduction in which I described the wondrous happenings that preceded its initial publication.
Dulcy’s second gift book— A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Companion Book—came to me as I remembered stories she hadn’t miaowed in the first book. In anecdotes that entwined our lives, Dulcy shares twelve habits with young kits and older cats. When practiced, these habits lead to a life of bliss with humans. Once again, she expresses these stories in her own voice.
Following each habit, I write how it affected my life. My own short stories explain just how I learned the habit from Dulcy and was able to weave it into what I was experiencing in my human relationships, in the work place, and in my life’s journey.
Thus, this second Dulcy book is a combination of my voice accompanying hers with stories from both our lives. A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Companion Book illustrates why, always and ever, Dulcy has been a blessing in my life.
After her death, I grieved deeply. Then, because the house felt soul-less without her, I visited the local animal shelter and adopted four more cats: Eliza Doolittle, Noah, Jeremiah, and Laz. By 2009, they had all left me. Once again, I grieved; once again, I visited the animal shelter. Since then, I have lived with three cats: Ellie, Matthew, and Maggie. They comforted me in the early months of my loss; now they help me keep the vicissitudes of life in perspective. In the years to come, I hope to write the stories each of these seven cats has given me.
Living with all these cats for all these years, I have often wondered who their ancestors were. Those musings have led to my third book for cat lovers: The Gift of Nine Lives, which is Book 1 of the Bastet-Net cat fantasy trilogy.
This gift book is the “Bible” of purrs, yowls, and miaows that a clowder of scribes originally pawed more than two millennia ago. It illustrates the delightful sense of superiority all felines exhibit and their mystifying tribulations.
According to this ancient saga, Bastet-Net—the Great God of Cats—gave felines dominion over all other animals. For eons of time, cats ruled all creatures great and small. Then, forgetting the commands of Bastet-Net, they became paunchy and indolent—slumbering often; hunting never. The Gift of Nine Lives moves from the creation story through a canine rebellion and thence to the life story of the feline whose good mews liberated cats from all their woes.
All that I’ve learned from living with felines for nearly fifty years is woven into this tongue-in-cheek feline bible. It sums up what cats have been and are for me—the delight both of my life and my home.