In early November of 1983 a tiny, tiny kitten arrived. She was swaddled in blankets, carried by a roommate in a cardboard box. She arrived in a household that was theretofore pet-less. There was no clue as to what to do with her.

Immediately an acquaintance with a well-known love for all animals, particularly felines, was called on the telephone.

"Do you think a vet ought to be called?"

"What the hell do you think, vets in New York make housecalls?!" She said she'd be over as fast as a cab could take her, and hung up.

The prognosis was this. The tiny creature had been weaned far too early, perhaps even before her eyes had opened. This is life-threatening for all but the hardiest of felines. (It must also suck emotionally, but, nobody in our household could read a kitten's little, petrified mind.)

But she had lungs. Lungs that sent her piercing, plaintive pleas ringing off the walls and which perhaps even trickled their way into the next apartment.

She was hungry, also. The only way nutrition and hydration could be given was off of warm fingers, dunked in a bottle of special "infant kitten" formula that the cranky, (yet helpful) animal lover had brought with her. The kitten lapped hungrily.

The next three days were nothing short of miraculous. Our animal-loving friend attributed it not to our 24-hour ministrations (which required days off from work), but to the fact that the kitten was from "sturdy, City stock" and therefore would someday be "a good mouser." Okay, how nice, whatever.

Kitten chow (solid food) was not to be given for another three days. However, already this little dynamo on four legs had managed to get up on the supper table (via the hutch right nearby) and devour not one but two mackerel fillets. A fine brand of mackerel fillets — but pretty heavy food for a brand-new stomach nonetheless. Other no-no foods she managed to steal right from under us included brie and a grape from a cheese platter (a snack rolled out in front of the television moments after we were certain she was settling in for her 10:00 nap.)

Within five days, grapes became her edible playthings. Tablespoons full of kitten chow were dispensed, along with vitamins, and formula.

The kitten was named after the descriptive word on the (rather costly) can of peeled grapes: "Luscious." Yep, Luscious the Cat.

One needn't be reminded that what goes in must come out; so the precious swaddling clothes, filled with a wee bit of cat litter, and a small plastic box, took care of that straight away. The only problem was that the maid insisted that the rags the kitten had come in should be disposed of. So every day upon returning home, care was taken by one of us to thoroughly scrub and bleach the soil off of the rags, and eventually Luscious was weaned from that. It turned out that the kitten had the same emotional attachment to the rags that did we; she slept on a windowsill, lined with the rags that the maid, until the end of her employment with us, utterly refused to handle no matter how sanitized nor cleaned.

Now Thanksgiving was upon us. The typical repast of hors d'oeuvres in the living room went off without a hitch. Family and friends crowded the modest apartment, so many gathering so closely to the window with the view towards Times Square that the window fogged up.

I didn't have help in the house; out of kindness (and because of her tolerance of Luscious) the maid and usual server were off for the holiday. While Cousin Lynn and Aunt Cleo helped to finalize the dining room table, Uncle John and I snuck into the kitchen for "just one more little drink" before the main courses were to be served. As I opened the wine bottles, John poured the scotch, damning the bags of ice one needed to chip away at with a pick to get anything beverage-sized to chip off the molten iceberg within. Neither one of us, until our glasses clinked, realized that there was Luscious, sitting, half-in, and half-out, of a sweet potato pie from Sylvia's restaurant. The look on that kitten was precious. She'd eaten too much (having tasted, ever so daintily, each and every neatly piped rosette of mashed potatoes off of the portions that had been been measured out, all ready for a quick browning under the broiler and then on to the dinner plates. Then, apparently, finding nothing more to eat she settled in and consumed a goodly portion (1/8th) of the pie before falling asleep in its warmth, her little head resting on the crust. Her ass was so well-fitted into the pie that she looked like some sort of peculiar garnish. She was fast asleep (but breathing; I checked). Needless to say, everyone had turkey, peas, sweet potatoes and stuffing but no one had a mashed potato rosette upon their plate. I told the few whiners in the crowd to "just imagine".

How a kitten weighing all of a pound and a half made it 36" onto the kitchen counter I'll never know. But Luscious is still enamored of sweet potato pie, and I never stop letting her have it around this time of year. Luscious weighs about twelve pounds now. She can't make it up onto the kitchen counter any longer. But she suffers from none of the feline ailments known to take from us cats half her age. Sure, she sleeps a lot these days, but who doesn't after a big Thanksgiving repast - 23 years ago?

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