Puzzola showed up on our doorstep in September of 2001, almost as soon as we had moved into our home on the outskirts of Florence. She was skin and bones. Mostly bones. She was probably four or five months old at the time. Our cat-loving neighbours and I started feeding this affectionate little creature, who was clearly not a stray but had lived the first few months of her life with a family that had then abandoned her in our neighbourhood. Every time we went outside, there she was, our faithful little Puzzola, ready for some food, but also for love and caresses. Whenever we opened the front door, she would zoom inside, and we would have to rush after her and gently put her back outside. Until one day. She came inside and has stayed with us ever since. See, at the time we didn’t want another cat. We already had a cat, my Canadian cat, KeshÃƒÂ©, whom I had gotten at a cat shelter in Toronto (unfortunately, she died of renal failure about six months after she arrived from the States, where she had been living with my parents until we got more settled here). But Puzzola was very insistent, and we had fallen in love with her, so it was just a matter of time.
Her name has a couple of meanings in Italian. In the beginning, the “aroma” emanating from her droppings in the litter box would send us scampering for shelter. I am not kidding. So the first meaning is: skunk (I happen to think skunks are gorgeous creatures, by the way). Puzzola is also the common Italian name for “marigold.” And our green-eyed Puzzola is most certainly a lovely flower, as well as the sweetest cat I have ever had.
One of the funniest and most remarkable things she does is to sit on our large farmhouse dining room table while we eat dinner. In the beginning, it was a bit disconcerting. Now we are used to it. As soon as I finish eating and push away my plate, I raise my hand, and that is her signal. She gets up, walks across the table and climbs into my lap, purring and kneading. But the amazing thing is, she won’t budge from her spot in the corner of the table until I let her know it’s okay. If Piccolo or Priscilla get on the table mamma mia, forget it. They MAY begin by sitting down at the end of the table, looking deceptively innocent, but they will begin inching closer and closer to our plates, trying to get their silly noses in our food. So they are not really allowed on the table. (Well ) [In this photo, by the way, Puzzola is pointing out the benefits of pure resveratrol 😉 ]
Even though Puzzola gets into my lap after dinner, she is definitely my husband’s cat. She worships him (perfectly understandable). Almost every evening, especially if he is late, she waits by the front door, listening. She gets very agitated when she hears his car approaching, starts meowing and stretching upwards, as though wanting to open the door for him. She doesn’t sleep with us. Our bed is too crowded for her, with the two youngest cats on it. She also doesn’t really play. I don’t think Puzzola played much as a kitten, unlike the other two. She had to scavenge for a living until she chose us as adoptive parents. So she just sits and watches Piccolo and Priscilla roll about on the floor. If they try to involve her in their fun, she runs up to the attic. She has dignity. She is our queen.