books

Vampire cats? What vampire cats?

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about pet death in fiction and why I will never do it. I thought this time around, I’d be a little more cheerful and introduce you to one of my favorite fictional pets.

This is Dracula.

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Well, not quite. That’s actually Hermes, but he bears a pretty strong resemblance to Dracula.

Dracula was a sometimes stray that had adopted Izzy.

No, that was too strong a word. More accurately, he liked the food she put out for the neighborhood cats, and when he waltzed in and claimed the throw pillow on her couch, she was too afraid of the twenty-pound tuxedo cat to move him.

If he had a proper name or a home, I didn’t know it and he didn’t acknowledge it. I started calling him Dracula because of his markings (which included a lopsided black bow in the middle of his white bib) and his comical overbite.

The real Dracula was a cat I knew when I lived in Montreal. His markings were almost identical to Hermes’, but with the addition of a black bow tie (yes, he had both a bib and a bow tie marking, AND an overbite. That part was not made up. I wish I’d been able to get a picture). He was even bigger though, every bit of 20lbs, if I had to guess, and not nearly as sweet.

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I have two very blurry pictures of Dracula somewhere on a backup disc, but Hermes is much more photogenic, and a lot of Drac’s personality came from Hermes, too.

The woman in the duplex below me would put out food for the many neighborhood cats. Dracula would pick fights with all of them until he got the bowl to himself.

The neighbor called him Johnny (why, I have no idea). But by the time I found that out, I’d already named him, and so Dracula he remained.

Make no mistake, this was one vicious cat. The neighbor, who had been feeding him for years, wouldn’t touch him. When he came near the food, she would get out of his way, and get out a broom if he started picking fights.

Within about two days, he let me rub his ears. Inside of a week, I could rub his belly for short stints (it was, as you can imagine, a trap. Blood was drawn multiple times). By the time I was ready to board the plane to return home, I’d been able to hold him twice, and he regularly came to me for attention, purring like an outboard motor the entire time.

“…the bite seems to be okay. Has he had all of his shots?”

“Um…” I chewed on a knuckle. I might be the only person on our street he allowed to rub his belly, but even I wasn’t stupid enough to try stuffing Drac into a cat carrier. And I’d just love to see any vet try to give him an exam.

“Nevermind. It’s fine. I’ll keep an eye on it. But if you don’t hear from me for a few days, check the ER.”

“Okay. Well, let me know if you suddenly develop a taste for black leather cat suits and diamonds.”

“I’m taking points for that reference. That was a terrible movie.”

“Fine, fine. Look, I should go. Let me know if he misbehaves.”

“I think it’ll be more newsworthy if he behaves. He knows he’s in trouble though. I haven’t seen him since this morning. I know he’s hiding somewhere, plotting my demise.”

“It’s not that bad. I think he likes you, actually. And you’re safe as long as you feed him on time.”

“That was not a love bite.”

“If you still have all of your fingers, then it was. He lets you rub his ears. Just stick with his head, don’t fall for the cat belly trick, and make sure his dish stays full.”

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Yes, I know. At this point I’m just sharing gratuitous kitten pictures. But look how little he was the day we got him! Not the 15lb monster he his now.

A year later, I wound up with Hermes. It would probably be a lie to say my experience with Dracula didn’t influence the decision.

Dracula is one of my favorite characters in Evie’s books, though he has comparatively little screen time and no actual speaking parts. Still, he’s full of personality and secrets, exactly as a cat should be.

And like any good supporting character, he has a back story.

 

Drac led the way to Ian’s office with the three of us following behind like over-sized ducklings.

The officers on duty who noticed the cat invariably stopped to look. Some chuckled. Others tilted their heads quizzically while others simply stared, unable to believe their eyes. When we reached Ian’s office, someone else was coming out. The man had black hair and gray eyes, and was carrying a sports bottle that seemed incongruous with his leather jacket and worn out jeans.

He stopped and stared at Drac. Drac stopped and stared at him, and then let out one surprisingly high pitched meow.

“Hi,” the man said, addressing the cat. He blinked a few times, an absent look coming over his face. “I always wondered what happened to that cat.”

That made me pause. “How do you know my cat?”

He seemed to shake himself out of whatever world he was in long enough to spare me a glance. “Hm? Oh, me? No. Nope. Never. Vampire cats? What a ridiculous thing to mention. Never seen one before. Silly idea.”

“Vampire cats? What about vampire cats?”

“I didn’t say anything about vampire cats. Definitely never seen one before.”

My biggest regret in writing Moreau House is that I didn’t have a place to work him in. Especially since as cats go, he’s rather sturdy.

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If you want more Dracula, you can find him in THE FERRYMEN.

And you never know. He might show up in other places, too.


Like what you see? Check out Character Aesthetic: Evie Cappelli