Ginger the geriatric feline

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ginger has been a part of our lives for a long time. To put things in perspective, our paper's advertising manager, Tracy Salter, was in elementary school when Ginger came into the world. My gray hair was still in its infancy. I'm not even going to discuss what size I wore.

Ginger and her sister, the late, lamented Mary Ann, first appeared in our lives in Dayton, Ohio way back in 1988.

It was a cold, blustery night. Inside was a good place to be.

 Our cat, Smokie, kept going to the mail slot in the front door and attempting to peer out the slot.

I decided to go and check things out. Lo and behold, these two tabby kittens were right outside.  They were friendly little things and obviously ready for some kibble. I took some food and water out to them and petted them.

As I watched them eat, snowflakes began to tumble down on my shoulders.

It just wasn't going to be a fit night out for man or beast.

&#8220Benny, we can't just leave them out here in this weather,” I said, tears starting to spill.

Benny hates to see me cry.

I opened the door and those two kittens, tails held high and gently purring, walked in the living room like they'd known us forever.

They never left.

I named Ginger first; she had an orange cast to her brown tabby stripes and a very outgoing, &#8220spicy” sort of personality.

&#8220Well, if she's gonna be Ginger, how about naming the other one Mary Ann?” Benny said.

Somehow the names seemed to fit perfectly, even though our castaway kittens were the reversal of the characters on &#8220Gilligan's Island.”

 While Mary Ann was cute and loveable, just like her TV counterpart, she was also dumb as dirt. She'd literally get lost in her own house.

Ginger, on the other hand, was very bright and amazingly good at winding us around her little finger, I mean paw.

She loved to play with those little fur-covered &#8220mice” toys. Ginger would merrily put one of those into play and sending it flipping in the air. The next thing you knew, the mouse was under the coach or the easy chair.

She would then simply sit there patiently, giving us that confident, expectant look that said: &#8220You ARE going to get it out for me, aren't you?”

She was right. We always did.

My father, who couldn't be bothered to get up and walk three feet to change the channels on the TV, succumbed to Ginger's charms when they traveled home with us.

&#8220Ging, do you need to go down the hall? Now just wait a minute, I'll get that door for you,” Daddy would say, and up he'd get to open the door -for the cat.

When my aunt and uncle came to visit the farmhouse, Aunt Phyllis, a long-time cat lover, wanted to pack Ginger up and take her home to Mobile.

People who didn't even think they liked cats would stop by and pretty soon, they were sitting there by our cat, absent-mindedly stroking Ginger's dense, short fur.

We lost Mary Ann about three years ago, but Ginger is still with us.

We figured out she is about 85 in human years. Time has changed our old girl. Ginger has gone completely deaf and gotten arthritic.  Her sweet, chirpy voice is now a high-pitched screeching yowl.

We're pretty sure that mentally she's not all &#8220there” anymore.

But she hasn't lost her ability to charm.

The cats stayed with Mama while we were on our cruise last fall.

&#8220I sure am going to miss that Ginger. The others kind of hid, but she came out and curled up on the couch with me,” Mama said when we came to pick up the cats.

&#8220She was good company.”

I know what she means.

Many are the stories I've written from home with Ginger's skinny little hindquarters tucked between my laptop and the arm of the chair.

I sure will miss my geriatric feline when she is gone.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at