Sunday, July 2, 2017
Of Olly, Sassie, Mister Kitty and Life with Cats
We recently lost two of our kitties in the space of one week. Olly and Sassy. Sassy was kind of an unknown quantity to me, she lived in the basement with the kids. She never really had the opportunity to get used to me. I am the new guy around here. Going on two years, come September, of being married and I am still the new guy in some ways. Not so for Olly. To Olly I had become part of the furniture. He was Momma's boy, and always would have been, but he had gotten to love me pretty good. He learned I was not a threat, which was a good thing. He discovered I am actually pretty gentle and I give good scratchies, which could be tolerated in small doses. But then he discovered something Sharon had already discovered. I am one of those people that goes to bed hot but wakes up cold. Sharon is exactly opposite me, she goes to bed cold and wakes up hot.
I have always been that way. Even in the coldest cold of winter time, I have to stick my feet and legs out of the covers. I usually pull the covers off my chest. So I end up with the covers basically over my waist. I seem to just radiate heat, and I have to let that escape. I will wake up wrapped up like bug in a rug, because I eventually cool off sometime in the night. I have no idea when that happens, because I am asleep, you silly ninny.
Well Olly was a skinny minnie and a chilly willie. On cold days he would crawl up under the covers and hang out all day. We would go into the bedroom and see this bump under the covers. That would be Olly. One day Olly decided to lay down on me and that's when he discovered my bed furnace. He would always end up sleeping on Sharon's legs or burrowed under the covers next to her, but he spent a fair amount of time laying in my lap or up against my legs. So I became more than something to be tolerated or ignored. We became buds.
Olly was a good kitty. You had to read him, only give him what he was willing to take, and take only what he was willing to give. Follow the rules and he was truly a loving kitty. The fact it had to be on his terms didn't diminish what it was. When I would get up in the middle of the night with my own particular brand of insomnia and he would leave Mom to come curl up in my lap it was special. It was our moment.
Thinking about young mister Olly caused me to think about other great cats I have known. One of my top cats was this old, battle scarred guy we called Mister Kitty. Mister Kitty was bad. I really can't say this nicely and do it justice, so you'll just have to get over it. Mister Kitty was the king cat of the neighborhood for a long time. If it was a male, he pretty much kicked its ass. Bad. He was just an average size kitty, but he fought like a holy terror. He got cornered in the back yard one afternoon by two red chows. I was raking leaves in the front yard at the time and saw them chase him around the corner of the house. Before I could even make it to that corner I heard first one then the other yelp out in horrible pain. Next thing I know they were running on home, whimpering, with their tails between their legs. When I came to the back door of the house there was Mister Kitty, waiting to be let in, looking at me as if to say "What? I wasn't doing nuthin!" Like I said, he was bad.
Needless to say, he was a tom. Let me put it to you this way. A lady at church who lived a couple of miles away was talking one Sunday morning about this horrible orange cat that was terrorizing her house because she has a female cat in heat. My mom asked what it looked like. She said "He's a horrible, beat up orange tabby. He just looks evil! He's missing this big patch on his right cheek, looks like something just ripped part of his face off!" That was Mister Kitty. That put his range of amorous nocturnal activities out to a radius of at least two miles.
Lovin' and fightin', that was Mister Kitty. My Dad, who as a general rule didn't care for cats much, liked Mister Kitty. I think he respected him. When Mister Kitty would come back from the wars to rest up, he would go comatose on the sofa. Dad would cover him up with a small blanket and say, "leave him alone, he's tard".
The funny thing about Mister Kitty is that was not his original name. My brother Paul brought him home from somewhere. He was like a wild cat. He wouldn't let anyone near him. Paul had named him Orfink. We thought that was, well, just a stupid name. Orfink, as he was named then, wound up in the basement and he wasn't having none of you. You couldn't get near him. Dad told Paul in no uncertain terms the cat had to go, he was not going to have his basement turned into a litter box. We tried too. Whatever our efforts were, he was not impressed.
It was Mom who tamed the wild kitty. This is what she told us she did. Everyday she would bring him food and water and just talk to him sweetly and kindly. She would say things like "I'm not going to hurt you mister kitty, I have some food" and the like. At first, she would put the food down and leave. Later, she would put it down and wait him out, talking gently and sweetly the while. Eventually she wouldn't put it down until he came out. That was how he was tamed and how he got his real name.
After that, Mister Kitty basically became my cat. He would go into the basement at night right under my bed and call me to come let him in during the middle of the night. He slept in my bed, in my window, or in my sock drawer. When I came home, he would come running. He was my buddy. He never really trusted Paul. I think Paul traumatized him bringing him home.
All that changed when Mom went to bed when her cancer came back. She had beaten it before, and would beat it again this time, but somehow Mister Kitty knew. He left my bed and bedroom and moved in with Mom. She told me later one morning after chemo, when she was so sick and weak she couldn't move, she woke up with Mister Kitty in the bed grooming her and licking her. At first she thought "what is that horrible cat doing!!!" but then she realized it was really soothing. In fact, it made her feel better. Mister Kitty had a big purr box, and though battle scarred and all he was soft and warm. He stayed with her, sleeping in the bed with her, until she got better.
Mister Kitty, to put it bluntly, was a bad ass battle cat and a caterwauling lascivious tom. Yet, somehow, he knew and he remembered. That sweet lady who loved him out of his hidden wild cat phase needed him and he was there for her. I have no idea how he knew but I don't question it. Mister Kitty ended up leaving us as he lived. Fightin' and lovin'. But during that time he put those pursuits aside and loved on my Mom in her need as best he could with everything he had.