Karl Strieby

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Just as the weather was starting to turn cold in the fall of 2011, Martha came home from a Saturday night WSO concert. We had the usual conversation about how the concert went, etc, then she got quiet for a minute. “There's this kitten hanging around the parkade” and went on to describe a skinny starved waif of a faded calico kitten that the parking attendant had told her about. The description included the fact that "she gives hard head-butts", and "purrs like a little motor-boat".

I gave Martha one of my family's infamous "over the top of the glasses" looks, and said "Well, it sounds like this cat needs a home, doesn't it?" And without further ado, Martha grabbed a cat carrier and headed back downtown.

After she and said young feline were safely home, we kept the newcomer isolated from Kaspar a) to prevent any contageous conditions from spreading and b) to make sure the much larger and more vigourous K-cat wouldn't kill this little girl.

Her initial vet visit on the following Monday determined that said cat was —

  • Around six months old
  • Underweight
  • Otherwise healthy
  • And (surprise!) a week or two pregnant. 

The vet said that a routine spay operation would take care of that problem, so that was scheduled for later in the week.

Before the vet would perform the surgery, however, Dr. LaMeg needed us to come up with a name for the patient. 

Thus the fun began.

The naming coincidence

So the night before her operation, we sat down in the living room (with the subject kitty on hand), and I googled "list of female opera characters" on an iPad. Google came up with http://www.aria-database.com/ariachar.html, and we started looking at possibilities.

Several possible names got kicked around. We began to gravitate toward "Rosina" and a few other names, and suddenly my brain went "click!"

"I think she's got to be a Rosina", I said, "because guess who that diva's male lead is named?"

Martha drew a blank...

"Hint: Rosina .... Rossini?"

"Barber of Seville?"

Rosina the cat

Count Almaviva (another great male cat name by the way) and...

(wait for it)


"Wouldn't it be a perfect tribute to that wonderful old black cat to name this little girl kitten after his operatic counterpart?"

That, as they say, was more or less that. 

Thirteen weeks later, Rosina grew a bunch and now looks much more like a cat than a kitten. 

She often ignores you when you call her name. But when you call her from the kitchen, it's a mad dash from whereever she happens to be.

She still thinks that she invented the art of the feline head-butt. And maybe she did, because her head-butts don't just go klunk and done, she usually "grinds" the top of her head into you for several seconds.

Her purr exhale-inhale pitch interval is somewhere between a minor second and a quartertone, down around pedal C. She's lucky we didn't name her "Zarathustra".

And she has the highest-pitched voice of any adult cat we've ever heard. In that regard, she's lucky not to be named "sopranino" or "piccolo".

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