This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for September 12, 2019, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.
Don’t ever name a cat “Pixie”!
We named the stray kitten who showed up on our patio over nine months ago “Pixie” before she left for nine months and came back and before I fully understood what a “Pixie” is. Pop psychology tells us that children become what their name implies, so be very careful what you name your kids. Well, this kitten, now a teenage cat, has an uncanny humanlike intelligence, and I’m convinced she’s trying to live up to what we named her.
The Slavic and Nordic understanding of the mythical creatures of folklore is somewhat different from the British, and the American view generally reflects what the English and the Irish believe. According to the Irish or Celtic view, a “Pixie” is a fairy, but smaller than other fairies, and more mischievous, though all fairies are thought to be full of pranks. Based on folklore, Pixies and fairies are “good” supernatural beings, even though full of impishness, and “bad” or “evil” fairies are called “urchins,” “ouphes,” or “goblins,” and they do very mean and vicious things.
One version of pixie folklore is a belief that they steal horses and children and lead travelers astray. That tradition about pixies would put them in the evil category, along with urchins, ouphes, and goblins. However, most British beliefs about pixies consider them mischievous but lovable and never malicious.
Our teenage Pixie doesn’t quite ever reach the level of “bad” like stealing horses and children and leading travelers astray, but at times, she comes awfully close. But then she is so very, very lovable. After you spray water in her face and fuss at her for her misdeeds, she looks at you with adorable kitten eyes and squeaks in a way that touches your heart.
Since she has been back (she left a kitten, came back a teenager), she repeatedly tries to shred the arms of our cloth recliners in the Patio Room, where we keep her most of the time; and when we let her have the run of the whole house, she sharpens her claws on top of our real leather living room couches. We bought her a cheap cardboard scratching board, and after ignoring it for a long time, she shoved it under the table (apparently cardboard won’t do; it’s got to be elegant cloth or leather). OK, so yesterday, we ordered her a high class scratching post from Amazon.
Like an elf or a pixie, she is always hiding, and when you walk by, she leaps out and bites your ankles, — then zooms away through the house like a high-speed locomotive. You go after her to put her in “time-out,” and she thinks you are playing hide and seek. You’re really, really mad and she peeks out from behind a box or a broom where she is hiding, and then races to her next hiding spot. This is one way she is so human-like, — she is obviously playing hide and seek with you. Finally, you give up, plop down on the couch, tired, and she leaps up in your lap and, ever so sweetly, snuggles your face. What do you do with a cat like Pixie?
We should have anticipated her latest act of rascality, but didn’t. The patio room was added on to the back of our house about 25 years ago, and the carpenter built a very attractive mantel above the brick all across the room, like a huge fireplace mantel. This became Pixie’s favorite place to sit on, to lie on, and to explore. There is only one problem, — my wife, because the mantel is so high up and supposedly a safe place, put many of her heirloom vases and bowls and figurines. At first, Pixie seemed not to notice these beautiful objets d’art, until one night she pushed three of them off the mantel, breaking a vase and an exquisite bowl which Peg thinks was a wedding present to her parents. For a few hours, anyway, we almost wished the cat had not come back.
So my wife moved the objets d’art to safer locations, and Pixie continued to stake out the entire mantel as her territory. We couldn’t stay angry very long. There’s a glass sliding door between the dining area and the patio room. Pixie greeted my wife one morning by hanging upside down (like a squirrel hanging with its feet from the top of the bird feeder to steal bird food) and looking at her through the glass. Now, an animal can’t get any more adorable than that. Yeah, we’re glad she came back!
Ray Spitzenberger is a retired teacher and pastor, and the author of a book, It Must Be the Noodles.