Margot is the quiet sentry of our lives.
Bonjour Margot Poisson,
I wrote much of this back in January when our lives were intact. You were still here, as was Fenway. We were settled in our little rental house and adjusting to the quasi-southern lifestyle. We three creatures had a rhythm all our own, bobbing and weaving about each other’s days. Now it’s just me from the original trio, and our new boy Miles. You tolerated Miles with much grace, putting the little nipper firmly in his place when he ignored your warning hiss. He learned quickly to bow to your authority—and claws.
You rebounded well with the move to our new house. On our car ride over to Beaverbank Circle, you looked with curiosity out of your crate, uncharacteristically quiet. I think you sensed this was to be your final home and were excited in your own cool cat way. You claimed the downstairs bedroom as your own, safely gated away from the new puppy. Gazing from your perch on the corner of the bed, and often the floor just beyond his reach from the other side of the gate, you teased him mercilessly as he whined to get in and play. You simply squinted with delight at your cleverness as you sat comfortably with your legs tucked under while Miles pawed the opening.
I wish you were here. With your quiet ways and amazing beauty. The hardest part of loving you was letting you go. A lady to the end, you let us know with your simple dignity you were tired, it was time. There will never be another feline that compares to your queenly ways. Thank you for 11 years of love, fun and spirit. Say hello to your fur siblings at the bridge, and when my time comes, please be there to meet me too.
Je’taime ma Petite Poisson.
from my journal, January 15, 2014, Margot Our Sentinel.
Right now, she sits in the hall, legs neatly tucked under, resting on the last third of the deep red rug, facing the basement door. She just moved from the edge of the dining room rug, where I happened to discover her as I looked down from my book.
A gorgeous tuxedo kitty with long black and white hair and white whiskers, Margot does not demand attention from our family. She appears seemingly from nowhere to shadow us as we move through our daily lives. When you come home from a trip, whether to the grocery store or a lengthy vacation, she pads softly into the room, blinking to say hello before rubbing against the doorway. She may rub against your legs, especially if she’s hungry. Her greeting is minimalist, and perhaps because of that, even better when she bestows her brand of affection.
Margot’s full name is Margot Poisson. T.S. Elliot wrote the naming of cats is serious business, and the Jellicle cat has a name only the family knows. In this case, La Poisson. Her moniker came before we discovered her fascination with the toy fishing pole that had a fake mouse attached to the string. Poisson likes to “fish.” She would fly through the air to capture that mouse as we whipped it about, then drag the pole through the house. Hilarious!
She has a number of nicknames. Marge, Large Marge in Charge (she is after all, 16 pounds), Margie, Queen of all Cats, Margeeta, The Baby. Depends on her mood and her activities as to my use of each handle.
She has a habit of jumping onto the bed after I’ve turned out the lights. She lands lightly for a such hefty cat. She advances slowly up the side of the bed, checking to see if I’m awake. When I try to pet her, she’ll tolerate the merest scratch behind the ear before retreating to the outer corner near my feet. One of life’s small satisfactions upon waking in the middle of the night is feeling her silky fur against my bare toes when I push back the covers.
Our dog Girl and Margot were best friends. They seemed to get each other in a way that Rosie, the big black dog never did. Rosie and Margot would face off and Margot always won. Girl, on the other hand adored this ball of fluff. She’d buzz her with her nose in a small game of chase as Margot scampered off to capture on a dust bunny or crumpled paper cup. I’d often find them asleep together on Girl’s pillow. Margot was oblivious to Girl’s earth shattering snores.
When Margot was a baby she was a riot stalking Girl. She would saunter into a room and Margot would hurtle from a corner pouncing on her. Girl would startle but never retaliate. It was amusing to witness her outdoor attack when Girl would squat to do her business, Margot waiting behind a tree to launch herself onto the little brown dog.
Margot grieved Girl’s passing almost as much as me.
She made peace with Rosie after that, and they became comrades for Rosie’s last days. Animals have a way of dealing with life and death that we humans can look to for help on getting on with life.
When we adopted our black lab mix Fenway who looked a lot like Rosie, he came bursting into our house and rushed Margot who perhaps thought Rosie was back from vacation. It didn’t bode well for their relationship. Took quite a few months and lots of repeating, “Don’t pester The Baby,” to get them to call a truce.
Margot claims any new item brought into the house. Furniture, boxes, papers, bags, suitcases. I turn my back for a moment and she has nestled herself sphinx-like on the item. She particularly likes climbing in things such as an open suitcase or cosmetic bag. It’s a hoot to see gold eyes peering out from a spot you think surely must be too small to accommodate her girth. All is fair game for her dominion. Too bad if I just got my black wool jacket from the cleaners—I shouldn’t have left it on the bed for her to lounge upon…
A long-haired cat, she must be combed often. Sometimes I comb her head and neck without any other agenda then to offer her pleasure and affection. Mostly though, it is to remove the mats. This is not a pleasant experience. I have several metal combs which adequately remove the mats, but not without a lot of hissing and scratching. If she would politely acquiesce, there would be no need for me to hold her underneath my leg, enlisting Fenway to stand over her while I work on her derriere. She enacts revenge from these groomings by hurling her meal on the nearest rug. Mind you, the hardwood floor is one inch over from the rug. Margot one, Mom zero.
Margot is a prodigious mouser. She catches voles and tiny creatures easily for one whose girth masks her speed. I’ve watched her stalking ritual. She sits very still, zeroing in her subject. Her body tenses as she lines up her feet beneath her. The tip of her tail quivers just as she launches. She brought live chipmunks in the house one summer—several times. The first time it happened, she dropped the poor thing on the kitchen rug. I walked in the kitchen in time to see it zip into the dining room. My screeching didn’t help, setting off a frenzy of dog and cat chasing the terrified critter around the dining room. I had the presence of mind to block the doorways so it couldn’t escape, then called T insisting he come home immediately to remove it. Meanwhile, Marge lost interest in her prey and removed herself to go bask in the sunroom.
Margot added a live bird to the decor to help us sell our Syracuse house. Between showings we kept the front door propped open for her to wander in and out, a practice we abandoned after this incident. T was in Baltimore, Adam was off in Cazenovia, and there I was, fated timing again, witness to her dropping a live wren in front of the fireplace. Fenway went berserk (from my shouting) and Margot and Fen had a keystone cop routine chasing this bird around my living room. Luckily I nabbed the dog towel by the front door and tossed it over the bird, capturing it and was able to release it without harm.
Margot loves our new Baltimore rental house. There is a huge backyard for her to wander and a steady supply of birds to watch from her perch on the patio stone wall. I find her curled up most often in a perfect circle on the corner of the guest bed. She’s also partial to the patch of sun on the living room rug. The white wicker rocker in the living room is the exact right size for her to settle on the woven green throw pillow, where she sits like a queen on her throne. T taught her a new game, chasing q-tips. He throws it down the hall and she flies into the air, batting it about and scampering off with her treasure.
Here’s the thing about this adorable cat. She is my sweetheart. I am powerless from her charm when she wants affection. I am honored when she chooses me as the person of the moment. Her beauty is undeniable. Especially when the afternoon sun outlines her fur and her whiskers dance above her golden eyes.
Poisson turns 11 on April 16. I will worship her in the manner she commands, all the days to come.