Long ago in a land far away, we had a Siamese cat. Mao — “cat” in Chinese. I don’t know if that’s Mandarin, Cantonese or some other dialect, but it was a good name.

English: A two-year-old seal point "tradi...

We got Mao as a tiny kitten. From day one, he was a feisty, chatty cat.  He was also our first cat, which his name reflected. Mao Ee (Cat 1). There were, of course, many more cats over the decades, in all the houses in I’ve called home (except this one where it has been only dogs). Regardless, there was never another cat like Mao.

When we traveled, friends took care of our house. I was a great grower of plants back then. Feeding the cats was one part of the job … but watering the 200 plus plants was — or should have been — the bigger task. Frank — best friend’s husband — was often tasked with house care in our absence. Mao was a thinking cat. A logical cat. He decided we were gone because Frank had driven us away. If Mao could drive Frank away, we would come home.

Therefore, when Frank came to the house to feed and water cats and plants, Mao attacked him. I don’t mean a little pounce, a playful swat. It was all out warfare. Mao crouched in shadows and attacked, all 20 claws outstretched, going for gore. Poor Frank loved cats and he and Mao had always gotten along fine. He had no idea why Mao was out to get him.

The moment we came back, Mao was back to normal, friend to the world. He had obviously been right. We were back … ergo, it must have been because he drove The Invader (Frank) away. Logical, yes?

After that, Mao attacked everyone who took care of the house in our absence. He was the terror of Our Crowd. It got increasingly difficult to get someone to take care of things while we were gone.

The years moved on and Mao moved with us. There were children, jobs, bigger houses, dogs. Life. We held celebrations … big Thanksgiving dinners. One memorable occasion, we had a full house including a dozen and half people and featuring a huge turkey. When the turkey was roasted, I put it out on the counter to set while I moved food in the dining room and greeted arriving guests.


I wasn’t gone 10 minutes. When I got back to the kitchen, Mao was on the counter, finishing off a drumstick. Its remains were still attached to the turkey — a ragged, conspicuously gnawed hole. Not the presentation I had in mind.

The husband and I consulted. We agreed and served the bird as it was.

“What happened to the turkey,” asked friends and family.

“Mao got it,” I said.

“Oh,” they said. “Pass the bird.”

It was a good Thanksgiving. Mao was some cat.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

41 thoughts on “MEMORIES OF MAO”

  1. Haha — I think all cat lovers have similar stories. Ours was that my mother spent all one morning making a birthday dessert — a pie of 3 or 4 layers of very thin shortbread cookie, with whipped cream and strawberries in between layers. When it was done, she covered wax paper and set it on the counter to finish preparations, A little later in the afternoon, she went back to find 1/4 of the pie gone! I don’t even remember which of our several cats did the deed, but it became a family legend! .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the great thing about cats. They can jump. Even when they are mature, elderly cats, they can leap up three times their height without thinking about it. I remember someone asking me what I did with fragile things. I said “What fragile things?” By then, they had all been smashed. Now I have new fragile things and I can’t go through the destruction of all my stuff again. At least the dogs stay on the ground! And ours are small enough to not counter-surf, either 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I would love to have a cat, but I’m away from home enough that I would have a neurotic cat that punished me for being gone! I have a friend who once was away — I got to their house before she did after she’d been gone for several days — the cat adopted me, and wouldn’t go to her while I was there! A cat might force me to clean up my clutter, though!


        1. Our new dog is going to force some tidying. The place is pretty clean, but wherever there is clutter, he’s stealing whatever fits in his mouth. I forgot how nutsy they are when they are young.


  2. That must have been some cat. Tabby never steals food, she uses psychological warfare. She sits and stares, gives you a guilty complex for eating food that should rightfully be hers and so you give in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mao was a very tough cat. He had a place at the table. He would sit on his cushion and wait for the goodies. I’m pretty sure he though that was HIS turkey and we had just put it there for him.


            1. I don’t know. I can usually fix anything with photoshop, but these were stuck in an old photo album, so that got pretty damaged as well as badly faded. I’m not sure there’s enough left to fix. I lost a lot of old photos when the basement flooded. I actually have very little from before the early 2000s. I’ve gotten some stuff from relatives, but all my pictures got pretty messed up. And then there was the virus the killed all the 1990s photos on the hard drive.

              It’s a cautionary tale in backing up photographs externally to the computer.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Oh wow! You’ve just given me a case scenario to justify to my partner as to why I have three copies of every image. One on my main PC, one on backup disk and one on a cloud storage.

                He always thinks I’m being to cautious about these thinks. 😮


                1. To be fair, those pictures were taken in the early 1960s with an instant film camera from Kodak. You bought the utterly cheapo camera and sent it in, film and all. I have come a VERY long way since then.

                  But as for backups? Absolutely. The more the merrier.

                  Liked by 1 person

                    1. Indeed… and the prices went up and up as time went by. 😦

                      I was very glad when I got my first digital camera which in today’s terms probably wouldn’t even compare to a cheap smart phone. LOL Nowadays I use a DSLR. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. I know there are people who mourn the loss of film, but I am NOT one of them. I was so incredibly relieved that i could finally take as many pictures as i wanted and not owe hundreds of dollars to the developing house … WHAT a relief!

                      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard stories of Mao luring unsuspecting dogs into the bushes and doing a number on them! He sounds like a colorful personality!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mao was the greatest! If you were a guy he would jump into your lap and expect you to pet him. If you stopped he would wrap his hind paw around your private parts and squeeze, just a little until you started petting him again. I loved that cat.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve scheduled this as a repost on our guest star of the week section for the 17th of March. Full link and credit back to your original post of course. 🙂


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