Up until, oh, about 17 years ago, I was that guy who really had no use for felines. Not saying I was a cat hater, or an Ailurophobe. No, just the quintessential, all-American dog lover.
Dogs, dogs, dogs, dogs — had dogs since before I was one. Grew up with them. There was Teddy, Lady, another Lady, Haas and Fluffy (who wasn’t very fluffy.) As an adult I adopted Mickey the Wonder-dog from the pound.
At one time at Casa d’Rush we had three dogs (Mickey, Pork Chop and Booker T, the 110 pound black lab who wandered into our house and adopted us), one bird, some bunnies, guinea pigs, two loud, active young boys . . . and two cats.
We picked up Keitcha when we saw a sign for FREE KITTENS pounded on the side of M-15. A mouse was spotted in our domicile so we needed a mouser, and Keitcha proved a very adept hunter. That was 17-plus years ago. A little over a year after Keitcha, we rescued a little grayish striped tabby, who was found wandering the road.
About the size of a big apple, this cat came with a Bot Fly larvae wigglin’ under his left eye. Bot Fly wiggly worm removed, we also had to shoot him a saline solution because he was dehydrated. A real scaredy cat, not at all sure of all the critters and kids running and making noise in our home, he ended up sleeping on my shoulder. With everything that had happened to him, the magic 8 ball of life said, “do not get attached to this creature, all signs point to an early checkout.”
I don’t know why he chose me to sleep on, I am not a cat guy. But he did. We named him Thomas; Doubting Thomas, because we doubted he would live long.
Despite getting daily shots of saline solution, he grew stronger and bigger.
Where Keitcha grew to a smallish, lithe, sleek gray hunter, Thomas grew and grew and grew. One of his nicknames was Jabba The Cat. He was a big boy.
Another nickname I had for him was CatDog. He followed me everywhere. I don’t think there ever was a more underfoot cat than Thomas.
And, he was a neurotic cat, too.
I remember one night being woken up from a deep sleep because of the horrible animal sounds I heard combined with a great about of tumbling commotion coming from the hallway — like little bodies being thrown on the floor or bounced off the walls. I waited. Hoping the slaughter would soon be over, I laid in bed, one eye opened.
Minutes passed. The bumping, screeching, keening, hissing cat sounds continued. More minutes passed. And, still more.
I just knew one of the cats had cornered and was killing a mouse and I knew I would have to quickly get the rodent out of the cat’s mouth and dispatch of said mouse in a quick and humane manner. With a heavy heart, I exited the master bedroom suite, closed the door and flicked on the hallway light.
There before me, all up and down the hallway the carnage was unbelievable — and Thomas in the middle with a stuffed beanie baby critter in his mouth. That damned cat had gotten into our boys’ toy bin and “killed” a dozen or so stuffed animals.
He was a great hunter of inanimate objects. He would also take them to the water bowl and “drown” them. Since the Great Beanie Baby Slaughter of 2003, all stuffed animals were relegated to high up shelves or boxes in closed closets.
Another nickname for Thomas was The Cat Who Wished He Was A Real Boy. Did I mention Thomas’ neurotic tendencies? Yep. He used to lick himself, a lot. So much so the underside of his belly was a soft, whitish pink skin. He licked all the hair off his belly. Lick, lick, lick . . . oh my gosh it was disgusting to here that wet tongue sounds. Lick, lick, lick.
Day and night — for 15 years — lick, lick, lick.
When I get home from work, he greeted me at the door — and herded me to the cat food bin for the evening’s dinner.
Until the other day. He wasn’t at the door when I unlocked it. Hmm? I went to the aforementioned bin and filled up his ceramic bowl and then called, “Thomas!” while at the same time shaking his bowl so he could hear the dry food rattle. Keitcha came in with a short meow. No, Thomas.
I searched the house and found him on the living room floor, lying on his side.
“Thomas?” Closer inspection, eyes glazed. A poke to his body, stiff. “Well, rats.”
I put him in a paper bag, a buried out in the back yard, next to Mickey the Wonder-dog Yep, after a little over 15 years (76 people years), Doubting Thomas finally expired. I think he must have had a heart attack.
I wonder what 17-year-old Keitcha thinks? Is she sad? What kind of dog guy am I? I kinda’ miss my little cat buddy. What’s up with that?