Happy Halloween! It’s an excellent time to celebrate the magical, mysterious black cat and this post is all about Jax, the man of the house. He will be mad at me later today when his roaming privileges no longer extend past the front or back door. I fear for his safety, even though almost everyone on the street knows Jax is mine, as is his sister, Sophie. Sure, we live on a cul-de-sac, but crazy knows no bounds when it comes to black cats on Halloween and I take no chances.
We get plenty of people of questionable intent flying up and down our street. Just last Friday a dude driving an Escalade came within inches of making me his hood ornament. Jax and I were walking back home after visiting our friend across the street when this guy came cruising along, looking every which way but in front of him.
“Dude!” I shouted. He braked. I looked at him and he looked right through me and just kept going. Both my neighbor and I yelled at him as he rode by the second time (after swinging around the cul-de-sac) but he paid us no attention. Jax shook his tail at the guy for good measure. If black cats do have magical powers, I hope Jax cast a good lesson-teaching spell.
Jax found his way into my heart and home in August 2010. He and his biological brother were part of a haul of 200 cats and kittens taken from a woman in Pennsylvania who was arrested and booked on multiple counts of cruelty to animals as well as violations of multiple health and safety codes. Animal shelters and rescue organizations in several states each agreed to take a dozen cats and kittens to nurse back to health and then put up for adoption.
Jax, then awfully named Dots, and his worse monikered brother, Dippin, were four months old when they came to Atlanta, courtesy of the Atlanta Humane Society. AHS provided them all with medical care, including population control surgeries and microchipping, and a clean, safe temporary home until they found forever homes. Dippin found a home right away because he had white paws and a white bib. People like black and white cats better than black cats.
I went to Atlanta Humane Society that day specifically to see Sophie, whose unusual orange and black face captured my heart. I was making my way to her cage when a paw swiped at me and snagged a claw on my pants. I looked down and a loud, kittenish “Mew!” greeted me. I bent down to unsnag the paw and a second paw reached through the cage bars to grab my hand. A pair of huge yellow eyes stared into my heart.
I opened the cage and this bundle of black fur weighing no more than a laugh scampered onto the camper’s lap made by my crouched legs. He tucked his little head beneath my chin and another “Mew!” didn’t so much as ask as it proclaimed, “Mom! Take me home.” I was claimed.
The workers seemed relieved to see me playing with the black kitten. I asked about him and they explained his personality, at least as it emerged over the past week: playful but hesitant, curious but standoffish, vocal but soft spoken. I put him back in his cage so I could meet Sophie, who was misnamed Skyler.
Sophie had been abandoned at six months and was found on the side of the road by a good Samaritan. Her odd markings made her a challenge adoptionwise. “People don’t like mottled cats,” the kind worker explained.
I took umbrage at this on behalf of Sophie. “She’s not mottled! She’s beautiful!” And, indeed she is, but this post isn’t about her. More on her in a later post. This is about black cats.
I asked how they thought she would get along with the black kitten. They eagerly assured me they would be fine together, though no one ever had put them together. I asked if I could test the theory and they agreed. So the man brought over Jax while I held Sophie and we put them face to face and….they stared at each other. They sniffed each other. They seemed to know their fate hung on good behavior so they practiced their best manners and never once hissed, growled or swiped at each other. Point. Set. Match.
The shelter thanked me and thanked me for adopting the two kittens whose colors and markings made them “less desirable.”
“Are you kidding? Thank you for letting me adopt them! They are adorable and precious and I will be a good mom, I promise!”
They were the ones who told me about the October moratorium on adopting out black animals. It sickened me to think of the selfish people who thought it perfectly fine to get a black cat from a shelter for the sole purpose of using it as a Halloween party decoration, only to dump the cat November 1. This would be a best case scenario, the shelter worker explained. At worst, well, we won’t go into that, even though he did and I had to sit down to avoid fainting. Thank your local shelter for protecting these precious chats noir and maybe send an extra $10 donation specifically to take care of the black cats.
Of course, Jax likes Halloween. The first Halloween I got what might have been the best cat Halloween costume ever: a tiny vampire cape. I bought it for Jax because he has very prominent, very beautiful white fangs. I draped it over his shoulders and loosely tied the ribbon so it would stay on and voila! Jaxula!
I was prepared for him to scratch at it, to try to claw it off, but he didn’t. Instead, he sat there looking majestic and menacing and Sophie seemed downright jealous. She tried to paw it off of him but he wouldn’t have it. He smacked her away. She smacked him back. He hissed. She growled. And a fight broke out over the costume.
I should have known better. When you have two kids, you never can get just one of anything. You have to get two or else war erupts. It happened with the feather toy. It happened with the remote controlled mouse. It happened with the toy with six different ribbons tied on it specifically so more than one cat can play with it at the same time. No matter what it is, it better have a twin or chaos will reign.
In my defense, I had gotten Sophie her own costume. It included a lovely velvet bonnet that I thought would look adorable on her. She disagreed and I can’t blame her. When you have a cool superhero satin cape nearby, who wants the prissy bonnet? Certainly not Sophie.
After separating the two, I let Jax gloat and ham it up in his cape for a good while. And then, like any good mother, I asked him if his sister could try it on for just a minute. Jax didn’t fight me when I removed the cape, but he stalked away when I put it on Sophie.
Being Sophie (my niece calls her a princess), she had to be dramatic about it. She played superhero, imagining herself flying, fighting bad guys like people who hurt black cats. She was quite impressive but Jax refused to give her any attention. He sulked like any little brother would, beaming “It’s not fair!” at me with slitted eyes and thrashing tail. I kept my word and only briefly let her wear the cape. She seemed satisfied with that and didn’t protest when I removed the cape from her shoulders and put it back on Jax, who had to be coaxed from under the chair with tuna flavored treats.
With his cape once again draped around him, Jaxula promptly fell asleep, but the the legend of Jaxula had been born.
It’s been a powerful deterrent to mischief makers. A few months later, I caught the little boy next door chasing Jax. Jax sought cover under the car but the little boy grabbed a stick and tried to go after him. I saw red and black but realized yelling wouldn’t solve the problem.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” I said from the front doorway.
He looked up at me, clearly startled. “What?”
“I wouldn’t mess with him if I were you. Didn’t you see his fangs?” I started toward him.
“Fangs,” he repeated, looking confused.
“He’s a gluten free feelion and you know what that means.” I had his full attention. “Here, look!” I held out my phone.
He came over and peered at the screen, which held the perfect shot of Jaxula in his vampire cape.
“See? Like a vampire. He’s very nice unless you try to scare or hurt him.” I nodded my head at his stick. “I can’t tell you what happened to the last kid who tried that.”
He dropped the stick.
I picked it up and broke it. “Yeah. Good idea. So don’t bother him. I’d hate to see you turned into…well, just don’t bother him and you’ll be fine.”
He never bothered Jax or Sophie again.
Happy Halloween from Jaxula, Sophie and me!