Cat stories

Meriadoc Herkes, a black and white Maine Coon kitten of extraordinary grace & cuteness, pictured on a gray blanket with his favorite companion, a Pikachu plush wearing a Totoro costume.

I have basically stumbled across every cat I’ve ever adopted. The one pictured in the featured image is Merrykitten, aka Meriadoc, a cat who was with us only for one summer. Since I’ve been thinking about him lately, Imma share a bit about all my cats here.

My First Cat. (not counting family cats growing up.)

A woman walked into the pet shop I was managing (a story in its own right) and plonked a single, tiny kitten onto the front counter with the explanation, “I found homes for the rest, but not this one. I was going to leave him at the vet next door, but they’re closed already.”

When I say the kitten was tiny, I mean TINY. About 10 weeks old judging from teeth, conformation & coordination, but wee-eentsy-teeny thing. I brought him home in my coat sleeve. (I am not a large human. My sleeves were not large, but there was room to share.)

Within a year Banshee grew to be a 20 lb behemoth who loved everyone and got easily, destructively bored when left on his own. This led to the acquisition of Alexander Batwing Spook, aka “Kitten.”

Cat The Second

Kitten came from a litter someone brought into the pet store in a big cardboard box because they thought both doors went to the neighboring veterinary clinic. (The vet worked with one of the shelters in the area, IIRC.) ANYway. I asked if I could see the kittens, naturally, BECAUSE KITTENS, and also because I knew my cat really needed more companionship. So.

There were seven kittens. Six looked maybe 8 weeks along. 3 calico, 2 gray tabby, and 1 gray & white, all yellowy-eyed, roly-poly floofwobbles with cute pink noses & toe beans.

And then there was Kitten.

Kitten stood out from his siblings like an ugly duckling, only more like a Beauty duckling. He had a boop-worthy gray snoot and super-soft gray fur with a dark undercoat already coming in, and he sat with his huge ears pricked up and his alert, vivid grass-green eyes calmly watching everything.

Of course I picked him right the hell up. He immediately purred like a tractor revving.

“They’re all from the same litter,” the owner assured me. “She throws one like that every so often.”

Well. Who was I to turn down a random kitten who happened to meet every breed standard for Russian Blues?

Kitten and Banshee were best friends in no time flat. I’d expected a long adjustment period, but no. Buddies at first sight.

Now for a sad part. Banshee’s too-large body shut down on him early–idiopathic kidney, liver and heart failure all at once, around age 7. (No, he didn’t ingest anything, we didn’t keep cat-toxic plants or use pesticides in the apartment…he just wore out.)

When he started losing weight we took him to the vet, and the vet’s assessment of the bloodwork was, “I don’t know how he’s conscious with these numbers.” We nursed him along for a few weeks, but when it was clear his organs were shot and he was in pain, we said our good-byes, and we let him go.

After he was gone, Kitten grew confused, then bored, then lonely.

So now Kitten needed a buddy. By then I was working at a pet shop that basically provided a kitten adoption service to customers. Litters of kittens in cardbaord boxes were part of the routine. For months I looked over every one of a dozen litters. None of the kittens were the right match for our lonely boy.

But Wait, There’s More.

Until Bruce showed up.

Bruce was perfect little kitten. Sleek, red-blonde, and sweet-faced, Bruce was a laid-back, pretty fellow. Not the smartest cat, but he was mellow.

He was a shorthair when I brought him home (in a proper carrier, with a bag full of toy, treats on the seat beside him. A few weeks later, one of the regular Friday night gaming group noted that Bruce’s tail was looking fluffy.

Within 6 months, Bruce was a magnificent floof, with a cravat, swooshy pantaloons, and a Tail Of Unusual Size.

Cat the fourth

Years later, Kitten died and Bruce was inconsolable. By then I’d long since moved from pet retail to bookselling. Kittens no longer came my way. I actually had to go hunting.

It wasn’t much of a hunt. I found Scooter (& his mom Chloe) in the first local newspaper ad I checked out. Yes, this was still back in the days when people took out pet ads in local papers. Made of paper.

Mom and kitten both came home with me because it seemed like the right thing to do. We couldn’t keep Chloe, she was intolerant of sharing space despite Bruce being the most Tolerant Cat Ever.

Luckily I stumbled across someone who gave Chloe a wonderful home, and Scooter made a wonderful playmate for Bruce.

When Bruce hit 14, he decided to be an old curmudgeon who didn’t have to use a litter box ever again. We set him up with a senior living space in the garage for the rest of his life, and hehe was as happy as a clam there, accepting daily visits and petting sessions and

Scooter was not inconsolable. He was thrilled to graduate from Prince Of the House to King Of the Castle. So we indulged him, and when Bruce hit the end of his life, we didn’t even look for another kitten. Scooter was having age-related health issues by then, including some major arthritis, so we focused on nurturing, nursing, and babying him for as long as he seemed to be enjoying lif

The grieving after he died was bad. He’d been with us longer than any of his elder foster-sibs, and when he was gone, the house felt empty.

It’s been two years since we admitted Scooter was ready to go and found strength enough to bear his loss.

Two long, catless years followed.

The new cat era

First there was the upheaval of moving. Barely two months after Scooter’s death, we put down a deposit on a big, old house, the kind we always wanted. Then the new old house needed Big Work.

Then came pandemic. (In the middle of the big work. Yeah. GOod times, she says sarcastically.)

Spouseman & I talked things over, we knew we wanted Maine Coons, and Maine Coons (like me and Spouseman) prefer a stable, calm environment. Inflicting moving trauma and then renovation trauma on a new furbaby or furbabies wasn’t a thing we were willing to do.

So we put off the adoption search for a long time. But! The last of the Big, Noisy, Intrusive projects fnished up, and we discussed options (adult vs kitten, how many were we open to adopting at once, etc) & researching breed rescues.

And then a pair of Maine Coon kittens all but threw themselves into our lives. Their arrival resulted in a lot of posts, so I won’t rehash those here.

Meriadoc didn’t make it to 6 months, felled by a congenital gut defect that meant he didn’t grow, and didn’t absorb nutrients no matter how much he ate. We loved him to pieces, he was the bestest of baby bois, and we did everything we could to make his short life a good one.

And then there’s his brother, Peregrine Took, aka Pippin, aka Mister Pips, collector of nicknames and Bane Of Ice Cubes.

Pippin is our beloved, huge house lion.

He’s had his issues, with allergies, and a condition called entropion that big-muzzled cats are prone to developing, but overall, he’s 21 pounds of magnificent good health.

He’s a happy boi too. We worried, after Meriadoc died, but Pips decided 3 was clowder enough for him, and follos us everywhere.

He does have a disconcerting habit of yowling at the cat in the hall mirror, and he gets distressed if he falls asleep in company and wakes alone, so we still want to find him a feline friend.

With luck we’ll find one soon.

For pics of all the cats, take a look at this post.

One response to “Cat stories”

  1. acflory Avatar

    Cats have been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. Dogs arrived in my teens, and I loved each and every one of them. Loved this post too. 🙂

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