This is a new kind of post invented by Kym. I will give you some history of myself in these. This month it is about pets. Sadly, I have no photos of long-ago pets; I will use generic images.
My father was a mink rancher. One of the necessities of that occupation was having a dog that was trained to help catch any mink that had gotten out of its cage. The dog’s role was to circle around the animal and chase it back toward my dad.
We had two black cocker spaniels, Duke and Duchy. Duchy was Duke mothers. Even though they were working dogs, I was free to play with them any time I wanted. They were not allowed in the house, though.
When I was ten we moved from the ranch into the tiny village a couple miles away. We had always had cats, both inside cats and barn cats. Graystuff was a tortoise shell cat like the photo below, but gray instead of black.
Graystuff was always on my mom’s sh!tlist. She was supposedly an outside cat but periodically she would sneak into the house, usually to have a litter of kittens. We also had a white cat that was allowed inside (I cannot remember her name) (Mom preferred white cats) that was deaf. Apparently that was a common affliction among white cats. Whitey eventually was the victim of a poorly chosen napping spot — under the truck right behind the tire.
In town I was allowed to pick a kitten from one of Graystuff’s litters. I picked a white tom and named him Toto. A few years later he got distemper and died. (Take a cat to the vet? Never. There was an endless supply of kittens, thanks to Graystuff, so none of the cats were irreplaceable.)
When I was a rising sophomore we moved to northern Minnesota, where my dad managed a large mink ranch. As usual there was a outside cat that loved to have kittens. None ever became my special cat; I loved and played with them all.
College dorm life did not allow pets. ::sob:: When I eventually moved into an apartment it was not long until I imported a cat from home, an orange tabby. Sadly, he (she? don’t remember) didn’t last long in the city, thanks to stray dogs, stray cars, and stray mean people. But a neighbor had a friend whose cat had recently had kittens, and I adopted Cactus, a handsome tuxedo cat.
I initially named her Abigail, but her feisty nature overwhelmed that name and she became Cactus. Besides just being combative, she had a nasty trink of leaping through the triangular opening of a person with one ankle on the other knee. She did that anytime anyone sat like that. I had to surrender her at the Humane Society after several years because I was moving into a really nice apartment with a couple friends, and the landlord turned out to be very firm on his No Pets policy.
After several pet-free years I moved with my boyfriend at the time into a different apartment that allowed pets. A friend had just found a stray mother cat with a brand-new litter under the steps of her building, and boyfriend and I adopted two gray tabby kittens, a male and a female. We named them Pius and Argyle, respectively, simply because we liked the sound of those words. Pius had been the runt of the litter, but grew to 15 pounds or so. Argyle was a more normal feline weight. Both kittens got sick at one point; Pius recovered with no apparent ill effects, but Argyle lost a lot of brain cells. When it got to the point after several years that she essentially lived in my closet, it was decided that her quality of life had degenerated significantly, and I surrendered her to the Humane Society. Pius, however, lived to something like 16. I had moved twice with him, gotten married, moved a couple more times, and had a baby. Somewhere is a photo of Elder Son in a walker scratching his head. At the ripe old age of 16, Pius developed diabetes, which we were unable to treat properly (full time jobs, new baby), and he gave his organs to the University of Minnesota vet school to be used in studying diabetes.
During the Pius years we adopted other cats: first was Sheba, solid gray, and named after a female fighter pilot on Battlestar Galactica. But Sheba developed the fatal habit of peeing not in the litter box. When my parent bought us new carpets for living and dining rooms, Sheba went back to the Humane Society. Smokey took her, and I told him Don’t come home with another cat! We were about to leave on a two-week vacation, and I thought it would be better to adopt another cat when we got home.
He listened to me as he always does and came home with a little tuxedo cat whom we name Daisy Bumble, after a character in a Monty Python sketch. Daisy was a good little cat, and we were once again a two-cat household.
Shortly after we moved to our second house, we adopted a third cat, Zoot, a Siamese cross we named for a character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. During the summer after we moved in, Smokey laid a cobblestone 2-strip driveway in the back yard to improve access to the tuck-under garage. Zoot supervised all his work and approved it as satisfactory. (The cobblestones were from an old street in Minneapolis being paved and were available free for pickup.)
However, we found that having 3 cats –Pius, Daisy Bumble, and Zoot, for those of you keeping track — meant a lot more commotion than 2 cats. I concluded that the commotion level corresponded to the number of potential interactions among the cats rather than the actual number of cats. All three cats got along most of the time, but when they didn’t all hell broke loose.
Zoot also lived to 16 and developed diabetes in her old age. At that point we were able to care for her, but she died not too long after her diagnosis. The boys and I were spending the summer at the cabin (where we now live), and they performed the burial ritual.
We had also acquired a dog during those years whom we named Bear and who was beloved of Elder Son.
Somewhere in there Daisy Bumble was mistreated by a neighbor and died of a herniated diaphragm, vet was not able to save her. Once we had moved back to Minneapolis the four of us — Younger Son was about 3 them — trekked to the Humane Society to pick out a kitten.
Meet Tabby, so named by Elder Son when he learned that she was, in fact, a tabby cat.
Tabby also lived to the ripe old age of 16 (are you sensing a trend here?) During her life we acclimated her to riding in the car. The secret is to start when the cat is still a kitten. The boys and I were spending every summer at the cabin by now, plus many weekend, and Tabby always came along. After the cabin become home she and Bear would ride along in the car every morning when I drove the boys to school. (If I drove them instead of have them take the school we could all sleep another hour. Easy choice.)
By the time the boys and I were spending the summer here in WI we had also started fostering litter of kittens from the Humane Society.
Like sands thru the hourglass, so are the cats of our lives…
Thanks for sharing that lovely crew of yours!
We have a Sheba cat right now, a sweet brown tabby who is 15. She is sadly fading fast, developed a variety of health issues and lost a ton of weight. At this point, she can’t even jump onto the sofa and has become somewhat unreliable about the litter box. So we will likely have to make a decision soon, as I don’t want her to suffer. Cats bring such joy to our lives but it can be so hard when they pass.
I believe that the cats (and dogs) that came to live at your house are some of the luckiest cats (and dogs) ever!
What FUN! I love hearing about all the pets in your life. What lucky, lucky cats and dogs. XO
And this was not all our/my pets. More to come!