The REAL Dowager Countess

 May I present Lady Ruca Rios.
 Do not look her directly in the eye, for though she is covered in fluffy fur, she has a spine of steel and teeth like needles.
21 years old and still able to rip open the skin of your hand if you deign to pet her in the wrong way.
Over the last two decades my husband and I have nearly perfected the art of petting her ladyship, and it is a rare day now that we shed any blood.

Amazingly, I first got Ruca in 1991 when she was only 6 weeks old, and I was a mere lass of 26. Some punker I knew had a mama cat with kittens that needed a home. There were 3 left if I wanted one. When I got to his punker pad, it was a total mess. Broken glass on the floor, dirty mattresses, beer cans and cigarette butts, etc. It was a really tough choice, not wanting to leave any of the cats in that bad place, but I was assured that all of the kittens and the mama had adoptions pending. So....I chose the tiny, fluffy tabby kitten with big green eyes. I chose Ruca. And she has been my best friend ever since!

Ruca is a spanish slang word from the mexican barrio meaning "bad ass chica". And she has lived up to that name. Ruca is a one-person cat, very shy around others, except for Greg. He finally won her over after about 15 years of relentless wooing. She is an extremely picky cat, about everything. I love her dearly, savage quirks and all, and we've both been fortunate that she has never been sick, and still shows no signs of slowing down! 

Ruca has moved with me many times, and suffered the indignities of having to share her house with another cat (truly the finest lady I've ever met, Miss Lulu), and three dogs over the years. Dizzy the Darling Hound, Emma the obsessive-compulsive Border Collie, and now Faye, idiot savante with an angel face. But also a cat-killer.

Faye, though a sleepy-eyed darling dodo with velvety lips, will also snatch a cat quicker than you can say RUN CAT, and shake it like a rag doll. This has happened twice while on walks. I watched helplessly in sheer horror, screaming to DROP IT FAYE as she snatched two cats from the bushes and shook them so hard, I was convinced they would be dead, or mortally injured. But happily, miraculously, they were neither. Both cats seemed perfectly fine after this brutal treatment, and both ran away, hissing in the most pissed-off way (and who could blame them) over their shoulders. Completely traumatizing for me.

However, Faye would never dare attack Ruca. The Grand Dame can make Faye cower with one penetrating glare. If Ruca evens looks fixedly in Faye's direction the dog will instantly turn her cheek, and politely pretend that she does not notice. Ruca will then walk by, swishing her glamorous tail like a fan snapping in Faye's face, and Faye will blink benignly at the wall, not noticing.

And that is as it should be I suppose. Forget Frank Sinatra, it's really Ruca's world, and we just live in it.