Thursday, May 7, 2009 4:23 PM

Tri-Color Cats: A Breed All Their Own

Well, not really. They are gender-specific, however, as only females sport this particular color scheme. In my experience, their personalities set them apart from all other cats, as well. Tri-colors exist only at the two extremes of the personality spectrum: they are either really affectionate and outgoing or crabby and snotty. Is it that extra color gene, or what? I think it must be. I was fortunate enough to have lived with one from the latter category for nearly 16 years. She was tons of fun, and had the most complex character of any cat I’ve ever known.

It was my husband’s fault, really. We had just gotten engaged and were out driving around when we came upon a farm with a “Free Kittens” sign out front. He suggested that we stop, just to look. I was living in an apartment complex that did not allow pets (although people had them), so I was reluctant. He said, “Look, if they complain, we’ll take the cat to my house. You’ll be living there soon, anyway, and you’ve gone a whole year without a cat. You know you need one—let’s pick you out a kitten.” What could I say?

As I peered into that box of 6-week old furballs, I automatically reached for her. I scooped her up as J., who is an ardent admirer of gold tabbies, held such a specimen aloft saying, “How about this one? Do you like this one?” But my mind was made up. But Sweet Pea, as I came to call her, was not happy about this turn of events.

All the way home, she spat. That cat spat at me constantly for weeks. She was not the least bit interested in cuddling, though she ate well enough. I’d never had such a cat before, and I started to dislike her. One day, after J. and I had finished making a scratching post for her, she managed to get herself tangled in the stringy toy thing I hung from the top. She started screaming as if she was being murdered! I thought she’d gotten hurt but, no, she was just being a pain in the butt. I untangled her and I remember sitting there looking at her, and she at me. I thought, “What’s the matter with you? I don’t think we’re suited to each other.”

I know this sounds dippy, but things started to improve immediately after that. It was as if she read my mind, or my “saving” her from the nasty scratching post string bonded her to me. Anyway, we became buddies. Not that she became docile or temperate. She still hissed when annoyed and could slap you so many times (with claws sheathed, at least) in one second that you never saw her paw move! On the other hand, I have known calicos who were so friendly that they treated you like their most favorite person in the world on the first meeting. I’ve never heard of any with a moderate disposition, however. Go figure.

Just So You Know: I don't have any pictures of Sweet Pea to post, as she died several years ago. Therefore, I inserted a pic of the current bunch to dress up this post. Let's see...that's three colors, right? Perfect!
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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