Got Passport?

Though I confessed to being a Catless Cat Lady, that hasn’t always been the case.

When I lived for a year in Romania, I adopted a sassy little calico kitten named Maitreyi (pronounced ~ my-tray).

Woah, back up a second, Kristin!  Why Romania?

Well, my pre-fictionista career I was a corporate banker.  My first job after earning my shiny-new MBA degree was to help Citibank open a corporate bank branch in Romania’s capital city, Bucharest. I’d already lived for many years overseas, but this assignment was a bit of a culture shock as few single Western expats signed up for jobs in Romania. Life was long work weeks with few socializing opportunities on evenings and weekends. So, when one of my Romanian colleagues was scrambling to find homes for a new litter of kittens, I raised my hand.

Maitreyi was my *comfort pet* before I ever even knew that was a thing.  She was an early riser with a preference for prowling my villa at zero-dark-thirty. Her purr projected from several rooms away, and she held court at the local Romanian jellicle ball. Yes, her many beaus would come a-courting that spring to see if her dance card was empty.

What does this have to do with anything literary a la Pens, Paws and Claws?

Glad you asked! Maitreyi was a literary cat in two regards.

First, I figured a Romanian kitten needed a Romanian name, so I polled my Citibank colleagues.  They all agreed the best name was Maitreyi, which was the name of the romantic heroine of a novel by the Romanian author, Mircea Eliade. The novel’s erotic story arc mirrored my kitty’s secretive escapades as she came of age. Want to know more about the story?  The Goodreads synopsis can be found here.

Secondly, as most cat *owners* can relate, Princess Maitreyi ruled me with an iron paw.  I was well aware that while I had no rights to proactively pick her up, she could make herself comfortable on my person whenever and however she pleased.  Her one particular pet peeve (pun intended!) was my reading.  She couldn’t abide my being distracted by books.  Anytime I erred, she’d hop on said offending item and stare me down until I redirected my attention toward her.

So, what became of Maitreyi?

When I relocated back to the United States, I found a local Romanian family to adopt her.  They promised to adore her in the manner to which she’d become accustomed.

As of today, I remain her loyal subject.



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Something’s Fishy

A couple months ago on this blog, I admitted that I was the textbook *cat lady*, minus her cats.  Sadly, this lack of furry companionship has encompassed all the usual pet suspects, save one. May I introduce you to my family’s one-and-only pet, a Betta fish.

Though neither cuddly nor furry, our Blue Crush (a.k.a. Crush) swam his way into our hearts and graced our family for about a year. With his peacock-like halfmoon tail, he offered a splash of shimmering color in our otherwise monochromatic kitchen. At one point, my son campaigned to change his name to Tag because Crush would follow his finger as he trailed it all around the bowl. We called it Crush’s exercise.

When perusing our fish options, we selected the Betta family because they didn’t require aeration in the tank, like most other aquatic species. Easy peasy, right?

Not so much.

For those authors (a.k.a. fictionistas) who choose to write a pet Betta into their novel, please don’t just make him pretty then forget about him.  Crush taught us that a fish of beauty can be more high maintenance than one might realize:

  • Equipment ~ bowl, pebbles, water plants, a net to catch him when we needed to clean the bowl, thermometer and a place for the fish to hide, because privacy). Our kids also insisted on adding a reminder to my husband to keep his fish hook far away from this bowl.

  • Food ~ Don’t feed the Betta fish too much, because he won’t stop eating when he’s full, so his stomach can explode. (I’m not kidding). This also meant that we needed a pet sitter any time our family traveled for more than a few days.
  • Water temperature ~ Bettas are indigenous to tropical climates so when winter arrived and our normally spunky Crush became sluggish, we had to buy a heating pad for the bowl. Who knew?
  • Water quality ~ Between bowl cleanings we had to monitor the water for toxins such as nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, chloramine, and ammonia.
  • King of the Hill ~ If more than one Betta share a bowl, they’ll fight each other to the death. Can you say Hunger Games?
  • First Aid ~ Betta fish are prone to fungal and bacterial infection, but only offer a few symptoms: their fin color may fade, their energy level may diminish, and/or their fins may shorten or shred. By the end of our first year, I’d googled all sorts of triage for determining what was wrong and had amassed a buffet of fish meds. I’m ready to sit for my fish-nursing certification exams.

The above notwithstanding, our family cherished the time Crush spent with us. He brightened our world, and wow, was he good lookin’!


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