I'm a cat person myself and I absolutely adore your two clever four-legged domestic partners! It's so cute how they've accepted Alfred, and every moment featuring them interacting with Bruce just makes me smile.
Would you please tell us a bit more about Whiskers and Nutmeg? Where and when and how did you get them? And are there special stories about them that have stuck with you?
Super question, Anika. You've asked about one (actually two) of my favorite subjects. I hope you've got some time. (I brought pictures.)
Nutmeg came first. She is a Bengal, and quite honestly, a bit of a princess The type of cat who finds the one object in the apartment which best matches her coloring and says “This is to be my pillow.” If it actually is a chair or a pillow, that’s fine, but if it’s your softest cashmere sweater that has to be repurposed, that’s not her concern. She’s claimed it, it’s hers now, and you (or I) must learn to leave it where she wants to lay on it. Her job, as she sees it, is to lie there looking fetching. If you point her at something another cat finds interesting, like say a spider, she will look at you like… well like I’d look at you if you point me at a mugger and imagine you’ll see crimefighting. “Pest control? Not my kink.”
Despite being a purebred, Nutmeg came from a shelter. I was in Star City to see about a cougar. There was a nasty fad in L.A. at the time with some of the gangs getting big cats to use as guard dogs. I imagine they thought it was very intimidating—until they got caught. Then there was an irate, malnourished jaguar, panther or leopard to place. The West Coast shelters were filling up fast and I had a contact who gave me a heads up when police, feds or capes were bringing in another one. This time, there was a happier story behind the tip: a very nice couple who had a pair of tigers and over a half-dozen cougars as pets. The wife had become pregnant and the husband was injured in a boating accident. Their lives were changing and the cats needed a new home. The tigers and all but two of the cougars were placed and my contact Rita hoped I could take the last pair at the Catitat. I could… but there was a catch. Unlike some drug dealer on his way to Iron Heights, the former owners were still on the scene and very invested in the animals' welfare. Politely, I had to pass inspection.
So I went to this Star City shelter to meet the couple, and unfortunately Green Arrow spotted me at the airport. At least, I spotted him. He was in costume and I was in civvies, so it's possible he had no idea who I was. But that man is the worst skirt chaser you ever saw. It was just possible that he recognize my legs, tits, ass, or whatever part of a woman’s body he liked to focus on. So I took extra precautions to make sure I wasn't followed, and precautions like that take time. I was terribly late getting to the shelter, and Rita was keeping the cougar couple occupied giving them a tour. Being cat people, they’d settled in at this one enclosure with a litter of Bengals. When I got there, mama was resting and the kittens were running around the enclosure like a six-headed cyclone. While I talked with the cougars couple, the kittens ran in a furry blur to the left corner, ran in a furry blur to the right corner, ran up a carpeted pole to a carpeted platform and ran back down again… All except one. She had followed the crowd up, but only made it as far as the edge of the platform on the way back down. She was looking down at the floor like she had no idea how this dreadful thing happened and had no idea what do to now.
Mr. Cougar was saying something about the grounds of their estate where the tigers had been kept, how they'd landscaped it to look like an Indian hunting lodge or something. I couldn’t follow a word of it. The kitten trying to work out her predicament was just too entertaining.
Finally, I couldn’t ignore her any longer. I excused myself and went to help the little furball. I knew to introduce myself first, so I held out my little finger, the tip of which was roughly the size of her nose. She started to stretch out to touch her nose to it, and then pulled back abruptly when she realized she was stretching out over that terrific chasm between her and the floor. She looked up at me like I’d tried to trick her, and then opened her mouth to meow… but no sound came out.
A silent meow. It was just too sweet.
And its meaning was more than clear: Do something about the floor.
I carefully picked her up and lowered her down. She took off without a thank you to rejoin the fur-cyclone of her brothers and sisters, and I returned to Mr & Mrs Cougar. We chatted for a few more minutes until I saw - you guessed it - the kitten had once again followed the crowd up, and only then remembered she didn't like heights. She stood on the edge, stuck again…
And I tried to ignore the situation—She got herself up there (twice), she could get herself down— But the little sweetie looked so upset that the ground was so far away, so perplexed how she'd got herself so high, and then... she looked at me.
So, um, that’s how I got Nutmeg.
She got over her fear of heights soon enough, which is lucky since I lived in a highrise. Even so, she never took to the terrace the way Whiskers did.
Whiskers is the adventure kitty, a mouser, and a Russian Blue. I met him on a rainy night. It wasn't rainy enough to cancel my prowl, just wet enough to consider cutting things short if nothing interesting came along before midnight. North Little Italy was flirting with the idea of becoming trendy NoLiTa, and I was checking out this little gallery that opened between a boutique and a wine bar. I always liked that kind of place - the test balloons. Their security is brand new - and much better than you'd expect since they don't like the look of the neighborhood they're moving into. The merchandise is all over the place, because they don't know what to expect from the clientele.
So I was making my way into Little Italy, via rooftop, when I spotted the Batmobile down below. That's always exciting, knowing he's in the neighborhood. I could proceed knowing an encounter was possible (or certain if I made a little 'oops' deactivating the alarm), or I could head uptown to Museum Row and pick up a trinket, knowing the Dark Knight was occupied elsewhere. I had decided on Bat-fun when the jackass vetoed my decision by remote control. The engine turned over and the car started to move - on autopilot, I assume - leaving a car-size footprint of dry pavement that would soon be as wet as its surroundings, and in the center of the dry patch, a little circle of dark gray squirmed and stretched and finally stood to assume a feline shape.
"Way to go, jackass," I said to no one as the cat below stood and watched his roof drive away.
I thought no more about it, went on with my prowl as planned, now with little hope of a Bat-encounter since it was likely he'd left the neighborhood. I made my way to the gallery and went to work on the alarm box... when I felt this little nudge at my calf. I looked down and there was the little wet cat looking up at me. He nudged my leg again, looked up at me again, and trotted off. He got as far as a a fire escape, stopped and looked back at me, meowed and climbed up.
All I can say is it was clear that I was supposed to follow, so I did. I was curious. The little guy climbed the fire escape up to the roof, stopping every so often to make sure I was still in tow, then crossed the roof, hopped to another, and led me back down - into the alley where I'd spotted the Batmobile.
It was like he knew I'd seen what had happened. Or maybe he thought the now-wet pavement told the story, but I really had the feeling he knew: knew that I'd seen it, knew that I had some connection to Batman. Because he looked up at me with this expression I can only describe as: Is there nothing that can be done about the caped guy?
A question many a rogue has asked when similarly inconvenienced. The answer, of course, is no. And cats have a way of not accepting unacceptable answers.
So, um, that’s how I got Whiskers.
Oh, and Barbara caught wind of what I was doing and insisted I include a picture of Bytes. No stories necessary; you know how he came into our lives, via Eddie. He was thinner then. Dick and Babs spoil him.
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