Following Shadow Elswick’s internet debut (where we got a glimpse into some of Shadow’s daily exploits) her fan base has been clamoring for more interaction with her whiskered mug. I caught up with her again recently to get a better perspective on this sly cat—what she’s thinking and feeling, what she wants out of life, and all the fascinating (and unexpected!) things that make her tick. She spoke candidly with me via “kennel-phone” (that’s cat-speak for “cell”) a few weeks ago, demonstrating that there’s more to this little cat than mere kibble and claws.
Me: What was the last book you read?
Shadow: I’m fascinated by cookbooks right now—I just finished Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Wow, it’s amazing all the different ways you can prepare squirrel—baked, roasted, fried. I’m just blown away. There’s a Creme Bavaroise recipe I cannot wait to try. I’m trying to convince Mom to let me try out my paw on some breakfast dishes for the guests, but she says it’s unsanitary and also that I’m not strong enough to lift a cast-iron skillet (or tall enough to reach the stove). So far I haven’t been able to find any cat-sized sterile gloves, so we’ve moved that discussion to the back burner, you might say.
Me: If you could have a sit-down discussion with one person from the past, who would it be?
Shadow: Oh, Katherine Hepburn. For one thing, I feel like I’m her living feline embodiment—all that graceful athleticism and sparkling wit in one lithe package. It’s hard work being this charismatic all the time, so I’d like to know how she maintained that classic appeal for all those years. Also I’d want to chat about Spencer Tracy. Yum.
Me: Where do you come down on the political spectrum?
Shadow: All the major parties are represented by animals vastly inferior to cats. Elephants? Donkeys?….what the hey. Let’s just say that when a party comes along with a Lion mascot, a pro-Speuter platform, and a willingness to bribe me with tuna treats, I’ll be all over it.
Me: How did having kittens change your life?
Shadow: They humbled me and made me realize that there’s a great big world outside of just me, me, me. (That’s what my manager told me to say.) Otherwise, I mean, not much, I’m still a cat, but for a second or two I maybe felt a little humbled. All I remember is that Mom & Dad were really impressed with my kitten care-taking skillz.
Me: Any chance of getting one?
Shadow: Oh, no, they’re all away in college now. Kits these days grow up so quickly.
Me: If I turned on your music playlist right now, what would I hear?
Shadow: I listen to Astrud Gilberto’s “Girl From Ipanema” a lot, I feel like it really describes the way people react to me best. “Aaaaah”. I like Superchick’s “One Girl Revolution” when I’m on the hunt. And when my kitten-daddy comes around, I just like to turn on some Taylor Swift and remind him that those days are over for me. This time, hon, we are never, ever, ever, getting back together. Spaying—it’s the quickest way to ensure permanent success for your breakup. I’m a big advocate for it.
Me: What’s the perfect day to you?
Shadow: Any day I can freak Mom and Dad out is a pretty good day, but I can be playful, too. Lately we’ve been playing this game–my parents call it “peek-a-boo”. (I don’t know why, I don’t really understand that name myself.) Basically, Mom or Dad or Grandma Cathe will poke their heads around a corner, look at me, and say “peek-a-boo!”, which is some kind of human phrase (Aboriginal, perhaps?). I’m not sure what it means yet, so each time they say it, I go hunt them down, just to make sure they aren’t in a “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” type scenario. When I find them, they act all delighted and praise my cleverness. I can’t really roll my eyes, so I swat them with a paw to say that I think they’re being silly (no claws, though, because it’s a good silly).
Me: If you had to pick one thing to take with you to a desert island, what would it be?
Shadow: Probably a little lipstick—being well-groomed isn’t just about sitting around licking your paws all the time, you know. You probably can’t tell I’m wearing it now–it’s very subtle. I’m all about snazzy-but-subtle. And I’d take my collar, so if a “dog-jail” person wandered by, they’d know I am Owned. And I mean Owned in the loosest sense. Mom & Dad & I like to think of ourselves as being in a “mutually beneficial relationship by consent of all parties”. We’re a very modern family.
Me: What’s your biggest fear?
Shadow: Warriors fear nothing and no one. But dragons are pretty scary. I’ve encountered a couple named Dyson and Hoover who were just plain evil. There’s a new one called Electrolux roaming the area these days, so I’m on high-alert.
Me: What would you do with today if it was your last day?
Shadow: I’d slap some marinated squirrel meat on the barbie, sit back with a cold one, and munch some fish-shaped tuna treats as I caught up with the drama on DVR.
Me: When was the last time you told a lie?
Shadow: Just now. You can’t trust cats. Frankly, I wouldn’t really sit back with a cold one. I actually don’t like liquids and refuse to drink out of my water bowl, so Mom has to mix it in with my food just to keep me from, like, dying. Or at least getting dehydrated. Fun fact of the day.
Me: What changes should we be looking for you to implement at the inn in the future?
Shadow: I feel like I’m being spread too thin right now—greeting duties, around-the-clock watch-cat duties, bell-hop duties. A girl really can do too much. I’m trying to get Mom and Dad to invest in a new security system so I can keep an eye on all parameters from a high-tech control room, but so far that’s also a “no”. And they refuse to change the name of the inn to “Shadow’s Lair”. So I can’t really say what will happen, they’re clearly not working with me.
Me: Do you have a dream career in mind for your second life?
Shadow: ….you mean my third, actually. This girl has some miles on her paws (if only Mom & Dad knew!) I think I’d like to get into forensics next time, maybe go back to school to get my degree in criminal justice. I had to drop out before when the babies came, but I’ve landed on my paws. And I’d like to sing professionally (sometimes I’ll sing a few bars for my guests when they’re here—gotta keep the public entertained.) I’m quite the acrobat, so I might try that for awhile.Dad just brings out my blue feather toy, and I come alive. It’s part of what keeps me so svelte. I’ve got a lot of lives left in my deck, so we’ll see what happens.
Me: One last question before we go–what are you thinking of all the snow we’ve been getting lately?
Shadow: Cold. Wet. Yuck. Physically I hate going out in it, but there are perks–it’s much easier to spot intruders and track my prey. So, you know. I try to look on the bright side.