Cats….the animals not the musical


Over the years I have had many cats as pets or vice versa as some cat lovers would say. My first cat, Hank, was named after Hank Rearden, a character in Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged”. Hank was a strange cat who enjoyed salads. My Mother who professed hatred of cats would make a salad for Hank whenever she was visiting. He was grateful, I think. It’s hard to read cats, they are seemingly aloof, not that I am ascribing human characteristics to an animal…..what cats eat salad?!

Not long after Hank was hit by a car, Fred came into our lives. Fred was the namesake of the president of an ink company I worked for. Fred, the president not the cat, later fired me. Fred the cat was much nicer to me. He was more like me. He liked cheese balls, tuna, and riding in cars. When his buddy, Harry(grandfather’s name), came along Fred often spent time calming Harry’s frayed nerves as we rode along. No kidding, when Harry started caterwauling ( excuse the pun) Fred would leave his perch on my left shoulder and sit next to Harry. Harry would cease the yelling. Fred was dedicated to riding in cars. Our neighbor who left his car windows open went off to work one day only to find he was looking into Fred’s friendly face when he checked his rearview mirror. Fred was comfortably lounging on the rear deck enjoying the warm sun streaming through the rear window. Naturally, our neighbor drove back home to let Fred out. Well, Fred disappeared when we moved. I’d like to think that he may have caught a freight to parts unknown since we lived near a rail spur.

My wife brought a cat to our marriage. His name was Shamber. I sensed that he didn’t care for the name, so I called him Sham. Sham had an interesting diet. My wife, Cat Lady, prepared cooked beef liver for most of his meals. It had to be cooked just right, almost liver tartar. Sounds appetizing, NOT! This behavior by Cat Lady was fair warning but I married her anyway. Before meeting Cat Lady I had developed the calloused habit of feeding cat food to my cats with some noted dietary exceptions. Sham and Fred became good friends. If they had had thumbs they might have gone bowling together. Both of these cats were outdoor cats and spent part of each day enjoying nature. A problem developed with a neighbor cat named Jasper. In the human world he would have been known as a bully. He was always after Fred. One afternoon we heard a crescendo of angry cat talk and went outdoors to investigate. There was the fierce Shamber backing Jasper down the side walk. Fred, the milk toast, was quaking in his boots standing behind Shamber. A friend in need is a friend indeed. Shamber lived to the ripe old age of 14, probably because he ate half cooked liver every day.

The real excitement with cats began when my wife and I moved to Greece, NY. We became a boardinghouse for cats. At one time we had five. Mostly strays. Because these cats seemed to find their way, unerringly, to our house, the kids began to refer to our home as a stop on some stray cat underground railroad.

One cold winter night I heard loud meowing at our door. Investigating the noise I found a big stray tomcat standing at our threshold yelling his brains out. Needless to say I told him to scat and not come back. Since I travelled quite often, I was not present for this tom’s next visit. Cat Lady (my wife) answered the door and let him in!(She had to, his tail was frozen! What?) He didn’t leave, except for vet visits, for many years. Naturally, he headed right for my chair and sat down, leaning one elbow on the arm of the chair. He was all black, no markings. If his eyes weren’t open, he looked like a big, black fur covered head with legs. We named him Buckwheat after the Our Gang character. He was an intimidating presence among the other cats. He was king of the hill. One tactic he used was to stand on one side of the cat door to our enclosed porch and dare any other cat to come through and enjoy the sun. There were no takers. One night he was accidentally left on the porch when I slid the plastic door over the opening. The next morning we woke up to find the shattered cat door on the floor by the porch door and Buckwheat sitting placidly in my chair. Now there’s a cat who could use his head!

It’s important to note that our cats have been well cared for with regular visits to the vet and all the required vaccinations to keep them healthy. They all have been neutered because the last thing I want is more cats. Sometimes they even have eaten cat food. They all seem to have a favorite human food, though. As we have become veteran cat keepers we have stopped letting them out. Too much going on out there that could kill or hurt them and keeping them in helps prevents cat leukemia.

We now live with a cat, Guy, who survived distemper to live a life of ease in cat paradise (our home) and another cat who is called Lovey? They eat cat food.Guy and Lovey


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2 Responses to “Cats….the animals not the musical”

  1. Paul Says:

    Oh I know how you love cats, the underground railroad of cat safety. I’d forgotten about Hank, but recall that I think he used to swat at me in Oswego when he sat on the railing at the bottom of the stairs. Could ahve been Fred, but was too cool. Fred was awesome. I do recall his fondness for the car and cheesies. Had the softest fur and purred like a fine tuned engine. I remember when Harry came into our lives too. Another cool cat. He eventually came to live with us and we have some great memories of Harry, the standard by which all cats are judged.

    There was another cat in your life in the last ten years…what was his name….big…orange….waddled….meowed all the time….several largest cat in Rochester championships….what was his name again and what happened to him? I recall some mysterious, some might even say foul play circumstances?

  2. Mikey T. Says:

    Yea, how could you forget your favorite cat, Hoover and his twin sister Spanky? He loved going for “spins” and sounded like an air raid siren. Nice blog though.

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