I must begin this blog by stating that we have never purchased a cat: All of our cats have come to us in one manner or another, but never have we purchased one, and every single cat has been fabulous. I had cats as a child as did my husband, but when we got married, we began collecting them.
Our first pair were given to my husband by a friend who owned a terrific observatory. Buz majored in math and astrophysics, and he had been grinding his own telescope lenses since he was about twelve. Buz was visiting the gentleman and he had a cat who had given birth and asked Buz if he wanted one. Did he! So, we acquired tiny Castor and Pollux who became huge cats and very gentle of disposition. They were wonderful cats. Castor died at about the age of fifteen; Pollux had wandered away a few years previously. Despite constant searches, we never found him.
Then we got Mitzelplick. Someone had dropped him at our vet’s, and another family took him, decided he wasn’t right for them and took him back. Mitzel had three homes before his final home with us; his name was decided by a vote of passengers waiting to board a plane, when one of my sons conducted a show of hands vote. Mitzel had been an outside cat, and though we try to keep our cats in, they want to get out. The neighbor who lived next to us then had a dog they let run free, and he killed Mitzelplick—grabbed him and broke his neck.
My daughter volunteered at the Humane Society, and she’d come home with “So and so is going to be executed today, and you can save him.” This was drama at its highest, as our shelter has a no-kill policy, and there wasn’t a thing wrong with this kitten. So we acquired Smith, like Mitzelplick, another huge, grey, fluffy cat. Smith was the most wonderful animal I have ever had—dogs, cats, horses, pigs, goats, hamsters—he was just the smartest animal I have ever known, and he ruled the household with a very gentle paw. He had kidney problems, and at the age or fourteen, they just gave out. He adored going to the vet’s, and he ambled in saying hello—and goodbye—to everyone. He went gently, and we all cried.
In the meantime, my daughter stole a cat from a fraternity. They were not abusive to the kitten—they just didn’t take care of him, and he would be out in bad weather, unfed and cold. My daughter sneaked him in to her dorm room, and her dad and I obliged by taking him home. He was so excited on the ride home! He stood up on my lap, looking out the window. Smith welcomed him lovingly, as did the dogs. Spooky (Spookleford T. Halloween) is fifteen years old, but as loving and sweet as ever.
Hobie came to us via a downtown restaurant. We were with friends and a darling little calico cat rubbed against my husband’s legs. One of the servers came out and said she wished someone would take it, because one of the cooks didn’t like cats and tried to pour boiling water on her. My husband protectively cradled the cat, and we named her Hobie. She had been an outside cat, and she would break through screens to get outside. We had her sweet, loving self for ten years, but one night, she was hit by a car.
Another cat, the prettiest I ever had, MacKenzie, came to us via the Shelter. She was so beautiful, and the other cats welcomed her. She had a bad start, and probably had leukemia although the tests were not specific. She seemed to be dying and needed to be hydrated, so I took her to the vet three times a day for treatment. If she were going to die, I wanted to be with her. But she rallied, and we had her for several years. One night, she disappeared and never came back.
Buz and I found a sweet, tiny little cat trying to get some shade from the blistering sun and 100 degree weather. He was full of fleas, and someone had put tar on him. We took him to the vet’s and he was bathed and the tarred area shaved and soothed with unguents. Waldo was our dear friend for two years. Another outside cat (they stayed in most of the time, but all of our cats have found their way out at some point), he crossed the road for the first and last time, killed immediately by a speeding car.
A neighborhood child came to our door telling us there was a cat in his yard, had been there for three days and couldn’t move. It was five below zero, and why a responsible adult didn’t bother to call the Humane Society is beyond me, but my husband brought him home, grievously injured, and we took him to the veterinarian where he was very expensively fixed. He weighs over 25 pounds and is not so fond of the other cats, but he adores humans, especially our grandsons who have tried to lug him around when he weighed more than they. A very tiny grey cat was at a neighbor’s, and the four of us spend two hours trying to capture him. I left out food, and he raised himself. I caught him in a humane trap, and took him for shots and neutering, but when I got home and opened the trap door, he shot out and through an open window. But I kept trying and nine months later, I caught him for good. A huge, furry cat, he was the sweetest natured, gentlest of cats who would look at us in wonder when we snuggled him on the down comforters, as if “how did I get this?” He was best friends with all our other cats and dogs, but he was always shy until we petted and cuddled him. My husband took him to the vet, but the normally shy, cowering cat jumped out the door and ran away. Three hundred hours and signs all over telephone poles and vets and pet stores didn’t get him back. We look for him still.
We have one more cat, a little lady by the name of Tibia. She is thirteen and dainty. She likes to be indoors, and I am glad that she, alone of all the cats we have loved, does. All of our cats have come to us from the outdoors, and so they like to be out and insist upon it. I had a dog at the vet, and one of the workers said, “Gay, come in to the back room,’ in a sing- songy voice, and there was a tiny kitten about four weeks old. Jane, savior of many animals, found her on the road by her dead mother. Of course I took her home.
All our cats are old and Frogger has medical problems, and Spooky is failing. When they leave us, we will grieve and fall into each other’s arms, and bury them in our gardens in the back yard, in the places they most loved to sit. And they will take huge chunks of our hearts with them.
Written by Gay Fifer, owner, Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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