“Jubilate Mimi”: A Jewel of a Short Story from Michaele Benedict

The name Millie didn’t suit this grey tortoiseshell at all. There was something French about her, something about the way she sashayed about and looked at us over her shoulder.”

Jubilate Mimi

By Michaele Benedict

The English poet Christopher Smart, confined to an English madhouse in the 18th century, wrote about his cat Jeoffry in his “Jubilate Agno”, an ode to the Divine found in the natural world.

A busy music studio in Montara is far away in time and space from Bedlam in the 1700s, but a Montara cat named Mimi seems to consider keeping peace and order her primary job. It was not always so.

The San Francisco SPCA Maddie Center, where we first met Mimi, is a testament to the generosity of animal lovers. Individual air-conditioned light-flooded pet apartments have climbing trees, carpeted towers, videos of birds and fish, running water and fresh plants. The animals have social workers.

In fact, most of the cats at the Maddie Center are so comfortable that they seem to have little interest going anywhere else. Mimi, then called Millie, had only recently come to the shelter and did not yet consider it home.

She had been moved to San Francisco from a Sonoma facility at the age of seven months. She was born September 3, 1998, and was adopted by us on April 2, 1999 after we filled out questionnaires, submitted to an interview, signed papers, proved that we had a home, and paid $35.38 in fees. The Maddie Center employees informed us that they followed up on adoptions and would reclaim the animal if terms of the adoption were not met.

The name Millie didn’t suit this grey tortoiseshell at all. There was something French about her, something about the way she sashayed about and looked at us over her shoulder. We wanted to give her the French name, Solange, but the music students couldn’t pronounce it. Since French cat owners call “Mi-mi-mi” instead of “Here, Kitty-kitty”, she became Mimi.

At first, she was a daredevil, climbing up to the roof, refusing to come down, scaling one of our 80-foot-tall cypress trees. She would not drink water from a bowl, she often bit the hand that fed her; she would not sit in a lap or come when called. The sound of the cello drove her insane, and she would jump from table to chair to piano to stereo until the music stopped or she was evicted. The sound of a violin would send her straight to the door. In a twelve-by-eighteen-foot studio with a grand piano, a
bounding cat was impossible to ignore.

However, Mimi had two redeeming qualities. She was beautiful, and she loved children. Like Christopher Smart’s Jeoffry, Mimi became “an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.” When music students showed up for their lessons, Mimi would greet them at the door and escort them to the piano, rubbing their legs as they walked.

Over time, she acquired other virtues. Jeoffry, Christopher Smart said, was docile and could learn certain things. ”For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.” Over time, Mimi learned to tolerate and even like the music in her new home. She would take her place atop the piano and listen attentively, sometimes commenting on the performances with an appreciative Meow. She learned to purr.

She began to like even the violin and once made a fool of herself over the Bach double violin concerto, weaving between the legs of the teenaged players, climbing on the piano bench, rubbing her face on the music score. The anxious performers discovered that it is difficult to be nervous when you are laughing.

Singers, rehearsing, have sung to Mimi as she gazes into their faces from her perch. Although she isn’t allowed to nap in the cello case, she now sleeps through most cello music. She allows small children to use her as a pillow.

Smart’s Jeoffry would “not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.” Although she is fed exclusively on weight-control kibble, Mimi has clearly outgrown her tree-climbing days. Now that she weighs 20 pounds, confrontations with other cats are out of the question: They stay well away from the giant kitty, even though she seems wistful as she watches them.

Since her only companions are humans, Mimi has taken on some human characteristics. She answers when spoken to. She almost always comes when called. She will sit politely at the dinner table without begging. She kisses. But like Jeoffrey, her best trait is that she can “tread to all the measures upon the music.”


Montara musician and author Michaele Benedict’s new book is called “Searching for Anna,” To learn more and to buy the book, click here

Famous “Kingston,” The Cat Calls Kibbles & Clips His Home in HMB


“Kingston” has become a famous cat at the Strawflower Shopping Center where he calls the Kibbles & Clips shop his headquarters–but look out, he loves Bay Book and Hallmark, too.

“Kingston,” was an orphan found at Miramar, and his finders were determined to get him a place to stay which turned out to be Kibbles & Clips.

The stores at Bay Book all know “Kingston,” and keep an eye out for the cat’s welfare, calling each other when they see him heading too far in the wrong direction.

She Liked My Cat Video

sami.jpg (Photo: Sami, my boy cat)

I forgot to tell you that a while back I received a delightful email from Joni Mueller:

“June,” she wrote, “why did you remove Sami’s video [from youtube]? I wanted to share it with a friend who just recently lost her kitty. It was the most precious thing.”

Joni (fellow cat lover)
“Joni,” I wrote, “Thank you for remembering Sami’s video. I just uploaded it again
to youtube–here’s the link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPTl7AX61us
Thank you for remembering. So sweet.”
“June,” she wrote, “He is a precious cat and what makes the video so sweet, to me anyway, is the little chirps of happiness and the interaction with you; he seems like a loving cat. And it’s that same cute noise they make when you touch them while they are fast asleep, a million miles beneath their brains.
Thanks for re-uploading, I’ll let my friend know!

Joni has a website called “Joni’s Universe.” Here’s the link:

She also has a business design website with Ivan Minic which looks pretty good. it’s called Pixelita Designs and here’s the link: http://www.pixelita.com/

Be adventurous…Check out Joni’s sites.

Lynn’s Spring Kitty

She visits us only in spring and summer. We have no idea where she lives, but she always find her way back to our house. Notice the eyes.

bg.jpg (Photo by Lynn Kalajian McCloskey)

Bubba, the Swimming Cat, Visits Half Moon Bay

Bubba, the Swimming Cat Visits HMB

Yesterday, when I walked out of the pharmacy in HMB, I saw a cat on a leash—gently tied to somebody’s green backpack resting on the ground.

I’m a cat lover, the owner of two bobtails, so my heart went straight to this multi- gray striped cat with a tail—not just because it was on a leash, which is unusual enough to make anyone look twice.

But this cat was calm and unafraid– even though I thought it was clearly vulnerable.

Its fur was shiny, slick and clean. And its clear knowing eyes told me, lady, I’m no ordinary cat.

This was a worldly cat, an experienced cat– a wise and patient cat.

All this flashed through my mind when the cat’s owner walked out of the store.

He looked a little travel-worn but he didn’t notice me. To the cat he said, “Is everything all right?â€?

I guess everything “was all rightâ€? because he sat on the cold concrete next to the cat, resting, looking at nothing in particular. I noticed he had a jagged cut above his right eye but I decided not to ask about the wound.

Instead I asked about the cat.

“Isn’t your cat afraid of dogs?â€?

“He IS a dog,â€? he answered. “He grew up around dogs. He knows how to handle them. He can protect himself.â€?

Then he told me the most remarkable thing: “This cat can swim. We were in Santa Cruz over the weekend, “ and the rest trailed off.

“Really?â€? I marveled, imagining a swimming cat. One of my cats, the girl, tentatively tests the drinking water in her green bowl with one paw, but I couldn’t envision her stepping into any body of water.

Hoping for more stories about this intrepid animal, I said, “You take great care of him.â€? I thought he must brush him all the time but he informed me, “He grooms himself. He licks himself every two minutes. I take good care of my cat.â€?

Our conversation was coming to an end but I wanted to know one more thing. “What’s his name?â€?

“Bubba. We were supposed to go to Alaska, “he added almost absentmindedly. “… catch a flight out of Oregon.â€?

These two, Bubba and his owner, were one, inseparable, and I left them that way in Half Moon Bay, wondering how these traveling companions would deal with the harsh Alaskan weather in the dead of winter.

But if the cat can swim, I’m sure they can survive anything.