I first saw her a week or two after some friends had rescued her from the woods across from their house, a small, matted thing hunched miserably on a tree branch in the rain while their dogs milled and snapped below. She was very sick with a respiratory infection, and for a while they didn’t think she’d make it. By the time I came over to the barn where they were keeping her, she was stronger, but her face was still black with caked-on snot. I sat down on the floor beside her, and the little ginger cat rubbed against me and a moment later clasped my hand between her forepaws and began licking it. It wasn’t the grateful licking of a dog; it was proprietary and businesslike, the rasp of her tongue almost painful. She was claiming me.
F. and I named her Biscuit after the color of her fur. She never completely got over the respiratory infection. Even in total darkness, you could tell she’d entered the room because of the snuffling, a sound like a small whisk broom briskly sweeping. Every few months she’d start sneezing with increasing viscid productivity until it got so gross we had to take her to the vet, which she didn’t mind—she’d stroll into her carrier as if it were the first-class compartment of an airliner—and put her on antibiotics, which she did. She hated being pilled and would buck and spit and slash until you got the message. You can see the scars she left on my forearm. Once, when we were still living in the town, Biscuit wandered into a neighbor’s garage and came back with half her muzzle and one forepaw white with paint. Three people had to hold her down while a fourth shaved off the painted-on fur so she wouldn’t be poisoned while trying to clean herself. It was the angriest I ever saw her. But only a few hours later, she slid into bed with us, snuffling and purring.
-- Peter Trachtenberg
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