Friday, June 13, 2008

Rootie Toot Toot, Lickety Split, Softie and Squash/Mira

I have always loved cats. Small cats, house cats, big cats (from afar). They are beautiful, graceful, regal, clean, and intriguing animals. Here are some of my cat stories.

When I was growing up, we lived between two busy streets. There were always cats around the neighborhood, and we usually adopted one every year. And every year, it seemed that our precious kitty would get run over. We always named our cats, and one year Rootie Toot Toot came into our live. He was a tom, a gray long-hair cat, just beautiful, and very happy to let us pet him and play with his tail. We dressed him up and put him in our toy car, but he usually jumped out. I'm not sure how he got his name, but it may have been a description of a bodily function. RTT lasted about 8 years before my dad found him on the side of the street one morning. We were sad for weeks. And then another cat came into our lives, and the cycle continued.

When we moved into our present house in 1975, we found a mother Manx cat and her kittens in the side yard. We named the mother Mom and the most adventurous kitten Lickety Split, because he always ran away fast. We fed them, but they were feral and we didn't tame them, and we were concerned about scratches because we had a 1 year old at the time. Eventually, we called a Manx cat fancier and she came and caught them and took them away, but not before I got a bone-deep bite on my hand.

Our neighbors had two little girls, and when the third came along, they also got a female, gray kitten for the girls to care for, and named her Softie. Softie visited our yard often, and my girls played next door with the other girls and they loved Softie. The neighbors moved away after several years, and couldn't take Softie with them, so they gave us to Softie, and she was a wonderful companion for all of us for many years. Softie was an outside cat, and lived on dry cat food and water. She roamed our end of the block - we are on the edge of a hillside with plenty of birds and some small rodents. Softie occasionally scored a mouse, and would proudly bring it to the back door for approval. When the opossums or dogs, or even other cats, came into the yard, she would leap from the ground to the shelf to the lath and up on the roof. I was always amazed how lithe she was. Softie saw my girls grow up and go off to college, and was a real blessing to our empty nest, and when the girls came home to visit Softie was a center of attention for them.

Softie was such a wonderful kitty, and lived to age 18. She became more of an indoor cat as she approached the end, and we knew the end was near at Christmas time 1996 when she stopped eating and struggled to get up on the couch. On the night she died, I petted her for the longest time, put some soft food near her, put her on a blanket on the floor, and told her goodbye with tears in my eyes (I have them now as I type this) and went to bed. I was awakened by something falling off the wall in the hallway (it was an angel ornament - my wife collects them) - this had never happened before or since. I got up, found the broken ornament on the tile floor and wondered how that happened. Then I looked in the family room and there was dear Softie hanging by a paw and claw to the couch - she evidently died trying to get up on the couch. Did her spirit pass through the hall and knock the ornament off the wall? We buried Softie in the back yard she loved.

My older daughter was married in 2000 in Santa Cruz, and visited us in Chula Vista soon after. She wanted a cat, so she went to a pet store here and bought a scrawny tortoise shell kitten, thinking that she could take it home on the plane with her. Well, no - not without papers, a health certificate, a cage and a reservation. Her friend came and got it and brought it to us, since we were going up to Santa Cruz in two weeks. This kitten was pretty skittish, and would hide under or behind furniture. I didn't see her and sat on her once, so I named her Squash. I looked into taking her on the airplane, and went to a vet to get the health certificate, but Squash was sick and we only got an expensive bottle of some medicine that she didn't like. So we drove Squash to her new home - over 500 miles away. We had to stop for a night on the way, and couldn't sneak her into our room, so we paid the extra $10 for a pet-allowed room. She traveled the whole way perched on the back of my driver's seat, or in my lap.

My daughter didn't like the name Squash, so she named her Mira (after "miracle," and considering the short life of this cat, it was appropriate). Mira has grown into a beautiful indoor cat. When I visit my daughter's family in Santa Cruz, Mira is my sleep buddy and is always nearby wanting to be petted. My grandsons don't appreciate her yet - they want to play with her, not pet her, but I know that they will eventually love her well.

I looked for family pictures of Rootie Toot Toot, Softie and Squash/Mira, but I couldn't find only the one of Mira here. Oh well, I've given you word pictures here, I hope.

My Victorville daughter has Walter, a lovable and slobbery basset hound. Their other older basset, Lucy, died last year. My Santa Cruz daughter has an Australian Cattleherder dog named Annie who is great with the boys. I like the dogs a lot, but I love the cats.

We often forget these furry and loving members of our families, and the companionship, enjoyment and fun times they provide.


Shannon said...

awww you made me think about all my kitties I had when I was a kid. The one we had the longest was named Murphy, he was an outdoor cat and my daddy built him a cat house that looked like a castle. I teared up over your story of Softie. Here's to all our lost pets that have gone over the rainbow bridge

wendy said...

thanks for sharing the stories about the cats!