When my (now) husband and I moved back to St. Croix, we had dreams of living in a quaint Caribbean cottage with a white picket fence, complete with island guard dogs roaming the yard. However, thanks to our first landlord’s No Dogs policy – small snag in the plan – we quickly became “crazy cat people” instead.

Over the years, we have had many cats come and go through our home, thanks in large part to my husband, who is a big softy when it comes to animals. We have rescued cats from flood waters, adopted them from bars, let strays into our home knowing full well that any day they would be giving birth to a litter of little ones (twice). So, needless to say, when I say we are cat people… we are truly Crazy Cat People.

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All of our feline babies are indoor/outdoor cats who enjoy the freedom to explore the lush island surroundings at will, and also have the comfort of knowing that there is always a full bowl of food (and on nights they are lucky – tuna) waiting for them, along with cuddles, kisses on the nose, endless belly rubs, and a cozy place to sleep.

One recent evening, I came home from a chill girl’s night out and was greeted at the door by “Mini Me”, our petite cat who weighs in at maybe 6lbs. She is known for her fickle, chatty disposition, and this night was no exception. She is a peculiar little feline that is set in her ways, always ready to let us know if we did not put the couch back correctly after mopping the floors, or if one of her siblings left a mess at the food dish. So as she meowed incessantly behind me as I walked up the stairs, I didn’t think much of it. I simply gave her some extra love and went inside.

To my surprise, when I walked into the darkened bedroom I found my husband all tucked in and fast asleep in our four post bamboo and rattan bed. The lights and the TV were off, which was strange, as I’m used to coming home to a bright house on the nights I go out. Also odd – for whatever reason, Mini Me refused to follow me into the room, holding her meowing post just outside the door. Not wanting to wake my husband up, I grabbed a flashlight and a good book and decided to read myself to sleep instead of turning the TV back on.

Just as my eyes started to grow heavy, I heard the telltale sound of feline mischief: the rattan headboard crackled. This spot is not an uncommon perch for our cats when they get in the mood to make a midnight ambush on our heads (purely for their entertainment, of course). I looked up, fully expecting to see our chatty little Mini Me. Only it wasn’t Mini Me. It was the size of Mini Me (and I am NOT exaggerating) – in RAT form. It sat, precariously teetering on the headboard with its tail mere centimeters from my husband’s ear as it is wobbled back and forth, back and forth.

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I gasped for air, clutching my chest in horror, and slithered out of the bed in a flash. I made a quick escape from the bedroom, concerned only for my own safety. In situations that concern rodents as large as cats, it is every man for himself!

Once I was safely out of the bedroom, I started to feel a bit guilty for not warning my sleeping husband about the very large acrobatic rodent that was not just in our bedroom, but on top of our bed. Though my guilt only went so far – there was no way I was stepping foot back in that bedroom. Instead, I stood in the doorway, gently tossing things at my husband, stage whispering, “Dave… pssst Dave! Hey! You may want to wake up!” Mini Me sat smugly at my feet, her eyes saying, Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

When my husband finally woke up, I frantically described the situation to him from the doorway, irrationally afraid that the BIG HAIRY RAT was going to jump out and attack my face at any minute. In true husband fashion, he laughed it off and told me to stop overreacting, that it was probably just a little mouse that had already found its way out of the bedroom. I was to stop worrying and get back in bed. I again emphasized the sheer size of the BIG HAIRY RAT, the fact that it was on our bed, and flat out refused to step foot back in the bedroom, let alone sleep anywhere in the apartment, until it was found and evicted from our home. I’ve seen the movies – I was not about to be eaten in my sleep.

After much back and forth “discussion”, I went out to the car in my nightgown and called my mom to tell her to expect a scantily-clad house guest; I was coming as is – there was NO WAY I was going back into the bedroom for clothes! As I was backing down the driveway, I saw all the apartment’s lights flash on and through the window, the silhouette of my husband frantically running around. And that’s when I knew that he knew – finally! – what I meant when when I said BIG HAIRY RAT. Who’s laughing now?

According to my husband, as I was calling my mom from the car, he went back to bed, rolling his eyes over what an overly sensitive girl I was being in my exaggerations. As he laid there in the dark, he suddenly felt something walking on the bed. He looked over to my side, expecting to see Mini Me just as I had, and instead came face to face with the BIG HAIRY RAT sitting on my pillow. The flourish of the thing then jumping onto the nightstand, Dave knocking things over, the rat climbing the curtains like Tarzan before finally escaping into the shadows of the night through the louvered windows – all of this has become the perfect end to our story when we now tag team it, sharing it with island friends.

Needless to say, I’m happy to report that I’ve received my proper vindication. Now, when I use the term “BIG HAIRY RAT”, he believes me completely (and yes, unfortunately this term has been used more that I care to admit in our island house). One would think that as self-confessed Crazy Cat People, we’d be protected from such madness. But alas, when the island rats grow to the size of cats, the playing grounds are evened – the cats have met their match.

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Christine Goodrich

Current Rock of Residence:

St. Croix, USVI

Island Girl Since:

1980

Originally Hails From:

East Chicago, Indiana

Christine is a long time resident of the “big island” of St. Croix. She lives with her new husband (a stateside import she met when she thought she wanted to be a city girl), whom she lived with, in sin, for 15 years before he finally made an honest woman out of her. Christine moved back to the islands in 2002 with her man in tow and together they decided it would be a good idea to renovate her childhood home… while they AND her parents continued to reside in it. She is the creative type, always collecting found objects for her next big art project which makes their side of the now-duplex a catchall of eclectic items to be used for everything from tiling the floors to decorating the walls (that is, if they ever get walls up…) Needless to say, living in a construction site with her husband and three cats, next door to her parents, there is many a day you will find Christine seeking refuge in her neighbor’s pool with a frosty beverage.

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