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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: Elissa's Essentials
By Leigh MacKelvey


Last night I found a note from Elissa in my letter box. The envelope was linen parchment paper, embossed with an E and a pink flamingo on the back. Across the middle was written “To My Beloved Mother.” A photo of Elissa fell from the envelope onto my desk. In front of a backdrop of the ocean, her black head posed to one side, white paws folded under her chin, arms rested on a beach ball. Her ears perked, but her eyes pleaded. Violets meandered nilly-willy around the border of the envelope and the note inside matched. It was folded, but before opening it, I needed to gather my thoughts. To my recollection, Elissa was buried under the weeping willow tree in our side yard. How daunting to receive a letter from a pet so many years gone. I paused to consider this, then began to read.


Did you know I’ve thought of you as mother? From the day you brought me home from Sarah’s, you loved me. Sarah tried, but she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and I went for days licking up bits of water she’d drip on the kitchen floor before she’d remember to fill my milk bowl. But you, dear mom, you cared. Except for you, not one of my families understood my needs. Thus, this letter.

I’m still alive. I know you think I’m fertilizing the grass under the willow tree, but the fact is, you were only my eighth life. You’d have been my ninth if you hadn’t found me in Sarah’s closet when she passed. I certainly would have extinguished from lack of nourishment. But, find me you did, and cared for me wonderfully until Mr. Carson ( I will not and never will call him Dad! ) was too tired to empty my litter box ... and after all those times you nagged him. I ended Life 8 inhaling toxic waste fumes.

For my ninth life, I’ve retired here in Palm Beach. I was going to send you a postcard, Wish You Were Here and all that, but decided the little pink flamingo would do. Letters are more my style. This is my Last Life, so I am inspired to write things one should take into consideration when caring for felines. We have feelings that shouldn’t be ignored. I hope you will attempt to get these helpful hints published in a magazine. My suggestion would be “Cat Fancy”, which is widely read. Well, here goes:

We don’t enjoy being thrown into bed with small children. We are quiet. They are noisy.
We are cuddly. They cuddle us inside their pillow-case. Consider this trendy new product, the Kitty High-Rise. Included is bedding, lined litter box with ventilation, ( extremely important ... as I can vouch ) and a nail-salon with scratching post. It features four walls and a door for cats to get in and to keep children out. Extra storage is provided for kitty accessories.


Don’t expect to keep us from clawing furniture if you place the scratching post where we can’t find it.

Place it on top of the kitchen counter or the computer keyboard.
Spray it with catnip.

Place it near the litter box
Place where you think it “ looks good and blends with the decor”


Panasonic Pet Scam
Your local Target carries them.
Sadly, cats, too, are neglected by Nanny.
( $10 off coupon in the March issue of “Cat Fancy.”)

UrineOff and UrineFinder
I was surrendered to a shelter in my second life because of urinary tract infections. A “ flare-up” brought on puddles. Had my family used the above product:
Shelter .. Not necessary
Untimely entrance into my third life: not so much

The Pet Rescue Sign
Why are there signs to rescue children in a car or a bedroom, but none for pets, I ask myself? This neat-o promotional offer comes with two window decals and a yard sign complete with balloons for Pet alert.

That about does it. I trust that you, dear mother, will take care of this so that I might finish my lives
knowing ...

I have helped someone, someway, somehow.

I closed the letter, dried my eyes and took a walk to the side yard. The grass was brown under the willow tree, there were no daisies. I imagined a sun-tanned Elissa, dining on tuna salad in a Florida restaurant and paying the “Seniors Early Bird” discount.

Cat Fancy is an actual magazine for cat lovers. It has a column by a Vet named Elissa called “Elissa’s Essentials.” I was leafing through the magazine and got my title from the column.

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This article has been read 986 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/22/08
This whole thing tickled me silly, since I"m such a huge cat fan. But for some reason the bit that "got" me was3 little words: "not so much." They just seem to perfectly capture cat-itude. This is adorable.
Sheri Gordon05/23/08
This just made me laugh. I am NOT a cat person--though I used to be. (Don't ask.) You nailed the cat personality perfectly! I especially laughed about the scratching post--very funny. Love the voice.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/23/08
Very creative and clever entry. I've never owned a cat myself, but I know several cat-lovers and according to the things they've told me, this is dead-on (pun-intended). Nice job!
Joanne Sher 05/23/08
Darling and fun.I AM a cat lover, and you definitely DID peg them. This must have been fun to write!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/25/08
Jan wss write with "catitude." You captured it perfectly.
Chely Roach05/26/08
This was fun and lighthearted, despite the subject of death by litter box fumes. Loved it...
Debbie Wistrom05/27/08
SOOOOO much fun. You had fun with this, I could tell. A perfect cat voice. I loved the part about licking up the drops of water.
Beckie Stewart05/28/08
This was very cute and silly and up to par for your excellent writing skills.
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
LOVE this! Simply too funny! I love the angle of a cat writing a letter-and especially of the tone of voice here, it's just perfect, fitting the cat right. I love the fact that it was her 8th life and she's now on her 9th. This was hilarious and wonderful! ^_^
LaNaye Perkins05/28/08
I am not even a cat person but absolutely adored the attitude of your cat in this piece. Great writing my FaithWriter friend!
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
Incredibly creative! You captured a cat's attitude perfectly. Nice work. It was fun to read, and I bet it was fun to write. Blessings, Cheri
Lyn Churchyard05/28/08
This was just delightful. I liked the cat's voice - it sounded mature as befitting a cat now in their ninth life.

Well done on a different and very enjoyable story.
Mariane Holbrook 05/28/08
Even a dog lover like me can appreciate the humor and tenderness in this wonderful story. Kudos!!
Peter Stone05/28/08
Too funny! I especially loved the cat's views on children, and the OUR OWN SPOT comments were priceless. I actually bought my cat one of those fancy cubic cat bed/homes, which she slept in every night until she decided to expunge a hair ball etc into it. She never touched it again...
Lynda Schultz 05/28/08
And here I thought that my late kitties were in cat heaven. So they are sunbathing in Florida—boy, what a life. Great writing.
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
One of the msot creative and clever entries that I have read this week. I loved the tips that the cat gave. I also loved the part about dying to the toxic fumes, because he wouldn't empty the litter box. LOL.

One of my favorites this week. I hope this one places high. :)