Once again, I’m stuck for time. I have copyedits coming on Wednesday, and a short story due a week from Monday–that now I have to get done early because I only have five days for copyedits. When it rains it pours!
So after writing all afternoon (after a football game and a soccer game), I’m brain dead. So when Pari asked us if anyone wanted to write a post for our good friend Simon Wood, I jumped at the chance! Why? Because it’s easy for me to talk about my pets, and I like Simon.
My mom was never a cat person, so we always had dogs growing up. My first dog was a Sheltie, and I’m still partial to them. After Shotzi was hit by a car when I was four, my mom turned to smaller dogs–a little poodle mix (Misty) then a pomeranian (Becky.) But I was always a cat person in my heart.
My first cat was my grandpa’s. Spooky was black with white paws and he didn’t like anyone but my grandpa. (It might have had something to do with the fact that grandpa bought him liver and gave him a little every night for his “dessert.”) I made it my life’s mission to get Spooky to like me. It took months, but I became a tolerable to the cat. When my grandpa died, I inherited Spooky.
In college, long after Spooky was gone, my roommate and I rescued a kitten from a fraternity. It’s not that they would have hurt him, but we didn’t want to take the chance. Nixon became my cat, and traveled with me wherever I went. As a kitten, he loved the car. When I got a job in Virginia, I flew him cross country. After that, he hated travel.
It was Nixon who converted my dog-loving husband to tolerate cats. Why? Because Nixon acted like a dog. He came when you called him, he did his business outside in the garden, and he didn’t scratch the furniture. (Though, why Dan would care about that considering his dog, a chocolate lab, ATE not one, but TWO sofas!)
Nixon came down with cancer when he was only seven, and there was nothing we could do because it had spread so fast. I was pregnant at the time, and so heartbroken because he was my first pet that was all mine. I’d had other cats that I’d acquired and found homes for over the years–all while I had Nixon–but they were more like friends who came and went, and Nixon was family.
Nixon also trained our puppy, Curly (a friend of ours had a surprise litter just before we were married), to like cats, and the two of them were best buddies. After Nixon died, Curly was as sad as we were.
Shortly after my daughter (#2) was born in 1996, I went to the grocery store and people were giving away kittens. Two were left, curled up in a box, one orange and white like Nixon and one a dark tabby. I took them both and blamed post partum depression when my husband balked. (After all, I had just given birth to a ten pound baby, I could get away with almost anything at that point.)
We named them Toulouse (left) and Neelix (right), and because Nixon had trained Curly so well, we had no problems with the dog getting along with the cats. She knew who was boss (the felines.) In 2005, Neelix disappeared–we thought he might have been injured by a car or animal and wandered off to die. He was known to bring rabbits and huge rodents and birds to our back porch. He may, in fact, have been the only cat to deliver us a baby bunny on Easter morning. Thank God we woke up before the kids!
Toulouse was a character. He used to torment my younger daughter by always sleeping on her toys. Her favorite stuffed animal was this Mickey Mouse, and Toulouse loved to drag it from her room and sleep on it. If there was a piece of paper on the floor, he’d be curled up on it. Anything new became his bed for the day.
Below is Toulouse in the dog’s water bowl:
One Christmas, he found an empty box:
And then our kids left the skateboard out one spring day . . .
He found more innovative places to sleep as he got older. He liked getting into cabinets, or finding the one toy that was sure to bring the most attention:
Being cute by the garden statue:
Being not-so-cute on top of the toaster:
And two months before he died, we still don’t know how he had the energy to jump onto the counter, open the coffee cabinet, and jump up to the third shelf:
It was nearly two months ago when we had to put Toulouse to sleep. He was well over 14 years. Toulouse had a tumor for years, but because of the location and his age, it was safer not to perform surgery. He survived happily for nearly five years, but the tumor grew suddenly and quickly and we had no options once he stopped eating. Then two weeks ago, my daughter’s boyfriend asked my permission to give her a kitten for their 6 month anniversary. I went with them to the Sacramento SPCA to pick him out, and we brought home an orange and white tabby we named Nemo. Nemo can never replace Toulouse, but we love him just as much! When he woke up my daughter in the middle of the night to play, she brought him to my room and said, “Nemo won’t let me sleep!” I told her that sounded familiar, but at least he wasn’t wet, crying, and hungry. (I probably should have used the event as a life lesson about sex and babies, but it was 3 in the morning.)
When Murderati alum Simon Wood asked if we would post a special charity appeal here, I agreed because we just had a wonderful experience at the pound getting Nemo, and part of the great experience was having the foster parents comments about all the cats–which ones were good with kids, other animals, etc. That was invaluable to us as adoptive cat owners, because it would have broken my heart to find out after a few days that our new cat hates little kids. Fortunately, Nemo fit in perfectly!
So from Simon:
So you get to read a great story for a couple bucks, and Simon gives the money to a worthy charity!
And I’ll up the ante. I’ll donate $25 to Simon’s charity in the name of the first person who guesses how we named Toulouse, plus I’ll send you FEAR NO EVIL, my Daphne du Maurier award winner which introduces Lucy Kincaid–just in time to read the book before I launch her series on December 28 with LOVE ME TO DEATH.
Also, share with us how you ended up with your most recent pet, or another funny (or special!) animal story. (For example, my brother-in-law the wildlife biologist visited us one day–and his car broke down and he stayed overnight–with a mountain lion cub. They are NOT cute. The cub, named Flash, has been integrated with the mountain lions at Folsom Zoo, a rescue zoo, where my mother volunteers.)