Cats of My Life

The new addition of Frank to my life has given me a chance to think back on the cats I've had in my life. I never thought I'd be a cat owner... well, that's not true, I thought I would probably, eventually own a cat, but I didn't know when that might happen.

I wish I could remember the exact year… it had to have been around 1990 that Tristram came into my life. I was musical director for the dreaded boy orphan musical, Oliver, in Elk River, MN, I was living with Kim. One night, I needed a rehearsal pianist to fill in for a night, so I asked my friend Linda to help out (that woman could sight-read a Chinese newspaper), I offered to drive here there and back and stopped by as she was just finishing up doing the dishes. She asked me to make myself at home, I sat down and this little gray streak darted out of the living room onto my lap. There sat a stripey gray kitten, only a few weeks old, he rolled onto his back, looked into my eyes and started purring.

It's an odd feeling knowing you've just been picked, I can't explain it, but I knew at that moment he'd be with me for a while. I sat there dumbstruck, simply knowing that I had to have that cat for my own. I don't remember when I said it, but I told Linda that if she wanted to "get rid of the gray kitten" I would take it off her hands. I suppose that was the most nonchalant way I could think of to let her know I needed to have him.

She explained that her daughter had picked that cat out of the litter of barn cats in their, er, barn to be her house cat. I said I understood and wondered if I would be separated from this wonderful little fuzzball.

A couple of days (weeks?) later Linda called and said that since her daughter was going away for college anyway, and that she, herself, really didn't want a house cat, I could come out and pick up that gray kitten if I wanted to. I enlisted the help of my good friend, Eric, and he and I grabbed a cardboard box and left immediately

Tristram came to me with an upper-respiratory disease, I poked a pill down his throat every day for a couple of months (how he could "ack" it up 20 minutes later -- still dry -- is totally beyond me) while he sneezed vile green goo on me every morning. He got healthy while his mother and siblings all died of it. So he became my little orphan boy.

He and I had a relationship that was beyond owner/pet, I called him my familiar. Mages, wizards and witches have familiars, they are connected to them in a magical, spiritual way, that's the way it was with he and I. I could merely think about him and he would appear. He was such a constant companion that I would not even notice, I'd look down and he would be sleeping on my lap and I would have no recollection of when he got there, it was just normal.

He was with me for only ten years, and he got very sick, very fast. When I got him to the vet, it was too late, his liver and kidneys had already shut down and it was just a matter of time before he would either die on his own, or let me know it was time. He picked the latter. I came home from work today, there were puddles of clear vomit everywhere and he said, meekly, "now."

I took him to the vet and had him put down. I breathed his last breath into me, kissed him and said goodbye. He is buried up at my friend Russel's beneath a cairn of stones.

Callie poo came into my life rather accidentally, my girlfriend brought home a stray that she found behind Cub Foods, where she worked. Turns out that cat was pregnant and it wasn't too much later that we had a batch of five kittens in our back room.

We had another cat at the time named Zodie. She was a gray and white long-hair who hated everybody but Christy and me. She got along rather well with Tristram, but nobody got along with the mother cat, Billie. After the kittens were born she would have screaming fights with Tristram and Zodie, I guess she was just protecting her own, but it made for some rather nasty times. Callie was one of the kittens, we kept her even after giving her mother to away to some friends.

Callie grew up to be a very sweet cat, but very aloof. She would find the highest point in a room that she could and view the world from there -- the top shelf of the closet was her favorite hiding place.

She would hide, it is true, but when she wanted lovin' she would make it very obvious, I called it "okay, you may pet me now" time. When she was really content she would show me "Miss Happy Hand," a presentation of her paw and claws as stretched and spread as she could make them. Some cats "cush," kneading whatever is under their feet as kittens do when they are drawing forth milk from their mother, Callie would "cush" the air. And drool, when she was happy she could leave wet spots.

She was a hider, and not likely to show up unless it suited her. I didn't notice until it was too late that she was sick. She died in November of 2007 aged around 12 years or so.

I didn't have the connection with her that I had with Tristram, but I loved her dearly. She is buried at Jeff & Stacie's near Kimball. I miss her.

Frank is my new cat, I got him at the Humane Society last Sunday. He is everything I've wanted in a cat since Tristam died, he is friendly, cuddly, inquisitive and a complete love! I don't want to compare personalities, but he is almost like a reincarnation of Tristram. I believe in love at first site! I got picked again! I am so thrilled to have another cat that I can totally connect with.

He likes to sit on my lap and he sleeps with me at night. He's teething right now, so he tends to chew on my fingertips, he also may be looking for milk, but nipples my fingers ain't. He's a very sweet boy and I look forward to many years together.

And his name is going to stay Frank... like Sinatra. Ol' blue eyes is here to stay.

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Mike Sawin said…
I know what you mean about being 'picked'. My Ginger did that eight years ago, when I found her at the Humane Society. She was so tiny I held her in my palm. She rolled over and touched my face with her paw playfully. And that was it.

She was a good choice: incredibly patient and affectionate (until we brought another kitty into the house -- two years and she still hasn't forgiven us).

Ginger loves Christmas. At least, she loves the tree. That cat never takes things off the tree or messes with the presents; she sleeps under it or stares at it lovingly for most of the day. Hour after hour, hanging out by that tree.

She picked me all that time ago, and I have never enjoyed a cat more.
cjschuette said…
I'm glad to hear you found a new friend. I also love it when pets have "normal" names like "Steven" or "Brad"...or of course, "Frank." Have a Merry Christmas!
Jen said…
Congrats again on the new cat... I had to laugh at your description fo Callie, she sounds just like my cat, Galileo. Except her chosen perch is atop the refrigerator -- no one can mess with her there.

Oh, and I love the new blog design. Neat.

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