painting by Jessica Bartram who once perfectly described Nuggy’s eyes as “Halloween-coloured” and it’s stuck
When you’re with someone for a long time, your inside jokes become the equivalent of the telephone game where it’s not always possible to figure out how the hell you got to the thing you keep referring to but it’s all somehow connected. There has to be a path to how we got to the place where we thought Nugget would be a perfect name for a cat but I certainly don’t remember it. We wanted to adopt an adult cat because they don’t get adopted out as much as kittens do and we wanted to adopt a black cat because they’re not the most popular; also we both wear a lot of black and figured it was practical. We joked about getting a black cat named Nugget and then one day at the office I was looking at the Toronto Animal Services site when I saw this perfect 6-year-old little gremlin named Nugget.
I sent Ian the link and walked over to his cubicle to see him look at it in real time.
“Nugget!” He smiled.
“I know right?” I smiled. “Nugget.” We would of course honor her family of origin by not changing her name.
We loved her little face and decided to go meet her that weekend. It was a very rainy Sunday and we got a car2go and drove to the west end past Islington to see about a cat. I told the woman at the desk we were there to meet Nugget (don’t worry, I also called ahead to make sure she was still there) and she led us to a little room with rows of cages. Nugget was sleeping in the back of her cage and opened her eyes as we walked up to her. She got up and came to immediately smell and rub her face against our hands. The woman had told us we could let her out so I opened the cage and sat on the floor as she jumped down and sat between my legs. She was so sweet and let us pet her—we fell in love. While we were there, a family came in to look at cats and I got nervous they would fall in love with Nugget. The mom looked at all the cats with a grimace.
“These cats are all so old.” She sighed and led her kids out of the room.
I told Ian to go tell the woman we were adopting Nugget and I stayed petting her until he came back. We lifted her into the cage and told her we would be taking her home with us. We filled out the paperwork and paid the adoption fee, lower because Nugget was an adult. The woman marked Nugget’s cage with a card identifying she had been adopted and Ian and I went to the nearby pet store to get everything we needed for her including the soft carrier the woman at the shelter recommended since Nugget hated being in a hard one. We only didn’t buy many pieces of cat furniture because Ian put his foot down but we did both agree on one tiny scratching pad masquerading as a chaise lounge.
We packed the back of this tiny car2go smart car with all of the stuff we bought, put an unhappy Nugget in the soft carrier, and drove home. Nugget cried pretty much the whole way to the point when she did get quiet at one point, we got very nervous. As soon as we got inside our apartment and let her out of her carrier, she was fine. More than fine, it was like she had always been there. She checked the place out while I set up her food and litter; pretty quickly she was lying on the couch with her belly up. She followed me to bed that night and was just instantly at home. Late at night, she christened her new home with a hairball and it was official.
There’s no real reason to write about Nuggy today. It’s not her birthday (December 31st, a Capricorn like mom), she’s ok, she’s alright—it just felt like the day for me to share more about this creature that makes life extra good. I will say that since I decided to write about her today, she has had a pee accident on our bed while I was actually changing her litter and for a second I felt very “j’accuse!” towards her but then I just felt extremely guilty for my litter timing and reassured this animal with a walnut sized brain, who doesn’t speak English, that I wasn’t mad at her. I’m just going to tell you about Nuggy, the light of my life, much like how I tell you about Ian every year on his birthday. Here we go.
Nugget gets hairballs but also really enjoys eating hair she finds on the floor. Nugget is named Nugget but as you have already learned, she also goes by Nug, Nuggy, Nuggeth Catrow (founder of wellness brand Boop), Kitten McNugget, Nugz, Bub, and Bubbe. Nuggy is food motivated not unlike her adoptive parents and especially loves chicken and shrimp among other things. One time, I was minding my business watching Drag Race and eating roasted seaweed when Nuggy comes out of nowhere and Lady and the Tramps the roasted seaweed half sticking out of my mouth. She has also been known to love the tiniest crumb of a chip but seriously just like a microscopic little bite. Nuggy does the thing cats do when their whiskers are sensitive and only eats food in part of the bowl so when there’s food still in the bowl but not in the part she is more comfortable with, she will come complain to management (it’s me, I’m management).
Nug also loves chicken bones which obviously she can’t have. One time we had ordered Popeyes and left the bag with the trash on the coffee table to take out the next morning. Ian and I were deeply asleep when we suddenly heard and felt a noise which turned out to be Nuggy with her head stuck through the Popeyes bag handle and the bag itself trailing behind her as she ran across our bodies in bed like a wee banshee. Ian jumped out of bed and got the bag off of her (she was ok) but we lost it laughing afterwards. I think we may have given Nuggy some Greenies for her trouble.
Now that’s a whole separate issue: Greenies. For a long time, years even, I would give Nuggy a few Greenies when I went to bed both as a treat but also for dental reasons (this was the “official” story). She knew the drill: I’d wash my face and brush my teeth and then head to bed and she would jump on the bed and sit next to me as I got her Greenies out and then she would eat them out of my palm. All was well for a long time but eventually she became aggressive about it. And by aggressive I obviously mean that she would meow louder or if Ian and I were in bed for any reason at all (wink), she would jump on the bed and approach us with a real shifty “you holdin’?” energy about her. Eventually Ian and I (read: Ian) decided we would phase out the Greenies since Nuggy had gotten too into them. I agreed to this and said how it was a great idea but I absolutely did not stop giving her Greenies.
You might ask why and that’s a fair question. I could spend time here telling you about how the family dynamics of my childhood led me to be a people (and animal) pleaser but I’ll sum it up plainly: I didn’t want Nuggy to be mad at me! For another month, I kept giving her Greenies at bedtime, usually while Ian brushed his teeth and couldn’t hear. Nuggy was as abrasive as ever, meowing and starting to pat me on the leg with one paw. I hurried to give her the treats secretly and shooed her away before Ian came to bed. It was extremely I Love Lucy of me which is funny because Ian’s the ginger and I’m the Cuban. This all went well until one night when Ian happened to notice how Nuggy was still expecting Greenies after weeks of not getting them.
“I really thought she would have gotten over it by now,” he said.
“Yeah, she’s really pushy.” I swallowed. “Maybe we should just give them to her again since she’s like so insistent, you know?”
“She’s a 10 lb cat, Anaïs. She’s not in charge.”
“Yeah, that’s a good point.” I started putting on lip balm as Nuggy meowed next to me. “But maybe just tonight, like as a treat.”
Ian looked at me and then at Nuggy and then at me again and the lightbulb clicked in his brain.
“You’ve been giving her Greenies this whole time, haven’t you!” He sighed.
“Ok yes but I had a good reason!” I watched Ian raise his brows at me.
“She was bullying me.”
“She meows really loud and the first time I didn’t do it, she sat on me and tapped me with her paw and I had to hide under the covers.” Saying it out loud did not make any of it sound better.
“This ends tonight.”
At bedtime, Ian came to be my muscle as I said no to Nuggy. She meowed and made a big fuss but after a little bit she jumped off the bed and flopped on the couch. Ian looked at me like “you see? it’s ok” and I went to sleep worried I’d wake up with a paw at my throat. Nuggy only gets Greenies on special occasions now, like Christmas or when I’ve taken a bigger edible than usual.
Nuggy is ten (10!) now. T E N. She’s a senior lady. She’s still pretty spry and we hope she has at least ten more years in her if not like forty. She lives in her own apartment which is a cardboard box we were going to recycle but she jumped in and fell in love with it. As a result, I covered it in Ikea wrapping paper and put her toys in it for her—we are currently considering a welcome mat. She has several real estate investments around the apartment including a fluffy pink bed, a sunning perch, and a new model of scratching chaise in addition to timeshares located on my desk, a stool next to Ian’s desk, and a shelving unit in our entryway. Her portfolio is diverse.
She is the being I’ve spent the most time with in the past four years and she is annoying and silly and also perfect and sweet. Nuggy is the first pet that’s been mine as an adult and I can’t imagine if she had gone to live with someone else. Sometimes she looks at me and I know she believes that I birthed her into this world and you know, I believe it too. She’s a good girl. She’s perfect in every way, just how an animal you love with all of your heart always is. She’s a dump truck from hell and we like her so much.
You’ve Escaped is on vacation next week! Not going anywhere but enjoying the long weekend and the week following it away from the written word. You’ve Escaped will return on Wednesday August 11th. See you soon!