by Tina Blue
January 5 2001

          Almost five years ago I adopted a ten-year-old cat from some neighbors who had grown tired of having a cat and who were planning to dump her at the animal shelter when they moved.

          I told them that a cat that old would probably end up being euthanized, but that prospect didn't seem to trouble them in the least.  I couldn't just let them throw that sweet cat away, so I added her to my already extensive menagerie, which at the time included four snakes, a skink, two ferrets, and three cats.

          Gabby became my fourth cat. 
          Gabby is a small red female shorthair, with large blue-green eyes.  Even now, at nearly fifteen, she is as playful and as personable as a kitten.

          And she is very talkative.

          When I first met Gabby, I assumed her name was short for Gabrielle, but the woman she belonged to said it wasn't.  It meant, well, gabby.  She's a chatty little thing, and her repertoire of vocalizations is quite remarkable.

          Anyone with any knowledge of cat breeds would immediately know just by looking at her that Gabby is part Siamese.  The oversized blueish eyes and the shape of the head and ears are a dead giveaway.

          So is the desire to discuss everything, at length.

          Gabby doesn't quite have the distinctive Siamese voice--but she doesn't quite have a non-Siamese voice, either.  Her conversational tone is a blend, about halfway between the Siamese and the non-Siamese.

          Even for a Siamese, though, Gabby is unusually voluble.

          If she says something to you and you respond, you can elicit the most extraordinary range of vocalizations, along with appropriate facial expressions, from her.  I am not the only person who can chat with her for twenty minutes at a time without ever getting bored.  She's a better conversationalist than a lot of the people I know!

          Gabby especially likes to visit with me when I am soaking in the bathtub.  She sits on the side of the tub and discusses everything from politics to literature with me.  (She also likes to gossip about the other animals that live with us, but I never repeat what she says.)

          And of course I talk back.  Because I try to use as wide a range of tone and pitch as she does, our conversations can become quite animated.

          One evening, I was soaking in the tub and carrying on at some length with Gabby, without realizing that a friend of mine had let himself into the apartment and was waiting in the living room for me.

          I finished my bath, dried off and dressed, conversing with Gabby the whole time.  Then I opened the door and stepped out into the hallway, and there was my friend standing in the living room, with a very strange expression on his face.

          "Tina," he asked, "Who were you talking to in there?"

          At that moment, Gabby marched into the hallway beside me, looked right at Michael, and said, "Mrrreeowww?"

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