Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Saturday, March 22, 2014

We were Lucky

When I met Lucky, I waved a broom at him to scare him off. When he dropped by again the next day for a snack  (kittens need a lot of snacks) from my other cat's dish I sprayed him with water from my hose. I didn't want another cat, even one with such huge fireman's boots paws. 

He was undeterred by my efforts to keep him out of our yard, and came right up to my lap one day on the front porch rocker. Yep, we've got another cat, now. No, I don't know what we're going to do with four. Yep, I've gone 'round the bend. I'm officially dotty, I told Susie when she drove up on the new Madonna and child on the front porch. 

He knew his place among the existing cats. He knew to stay clear of Sam, the outdoor-only short haired gray. We had in-and-outdoor cats, Cheech and Chong, the Burmese brothers. Lucky also stepped lightly around the old bachelors who were set in their ways. They looked down their noses at him at first, but only hissed a few warnings at him. They knew the Two Legged that lived with them already had another cat, a parrot and a dog. What harm could a kitten do? 

I named him Lucky, because I'd heard of a man where I worked with that name and liked it. What would your life be like if your name were Lucky? I gave it a try on the big-pawed kitten. Besides, he was lucky to live with us. We had a great life to offer a cat, lots of food and water, trees, grass, tons of pillows and sunny windows to nap beside. Hugs and love. The necessary trip to the vet to get neutered and all his shots. Well, no one could be all luck. But, overall, Lucky adapted well to the new home he had selected.

Lucky wasn't a fighter like our gray cat, Sam, who was rescued from a traffic island, howling in pitiful protest. He was in an awful mood after that, understandably. Except for sleeping and eating (barely) he spent most of his life sulking and ready to fight with the world. Lucky for us, the new cat was more like Cheech and Chong, who were also rescues. They came from a vet's office, and their lives as kittens were much safer, apparently, as their names suggest, very mellow and happy.

His breed was Maine Coon, and his personality was true to his kind of cat: gentle, loving and easy-going. He was still a kitten, though, and Cheech accommodated him with practice wrestling matches that sometimes resulted in fur flying. Lucky didn't keep grudges over being whipped by Cheech, who had tons more years of practice wrestling with his brother Chong, not to mention sheer bulk.

Here was a true people cat. Lucky always stayed close to home. When we were there, he sat or slept right beside where ever we were.  I could see he had been careful in who he chose to live with.  I suspected he had been born nearby at a family's two doors behind us whose children had helped raise him to be fond of Two Legged folks like us. 

When a woman doesn't have children of her own, she has the extra time and money to spend, some of it at the veterinarian's office, or the grocery store for pet food. Even so, her hugs, however romantically fulfilled by adults, still require a wee thing to squeeze and connect with. Lucky was a handful and grew to 14 pounds, but was always glad to have a hug and never minded being treated like a baby doll, learning to make the sign of the cross or being hung upside down by his big paws to show off the curly blond fur on his formidable belly.

Lucky lived indoors, and slept under the bed for many years, and later in a basket in the pantry. In the summers he slept in the screen porch. A true Maine Coon, he sat in the middle of any group of family, friends or artists working at the house. When the house was full of people, and doors were likely to be left ajar, Lucky would slip outside, preferring a wander to visiting, but he would be back in an hour or so, leading me to his food dish, which he knew I would magically fill for him. 

A very large short-hair yellow tom stray lived in the neighborhood, sleeping close to the houses, but generally living wild in the hills. He caught Lucky and showed him who was bigger, but there were no injuries requiring doctor visits, and I'm not sure Lucky even minded his encounters with the yellow tom. There's something a bit wild about all cats, if you are honest about it, even with a gentle old bachelor like Lucky had become after thirteen years with our family. 

Lucky watched television with us, never begged at us for food (he had his own place to eat, thank you) and was always at the door to say hello, follow me I have this empty dish to show you. 

He was a load to pick up and hug every day, but a mom has to do her duty, doesn't she? 

Lucky forgave us for leaving him accidentally locked in a bedroom without food or water for five days while we attended a niece's wedding in California, for over-zealously thinning out his tail fur, again by accident, and in his elder years, when we should have been more respectful, for making him perform his 'dog trick' in front of visitors: "Come, Lucky" the Two Legged stands holding cat treat. Lucky glances up from grooming to see the green teeth-cleaning treat the Two Legged pays five dollars for at the pet store. Lucky trots over to hear her hiss out "sssit!" "sssit, Lucky!" while raising the pet treat across his nose and up to his ears. What the...OK, I'll follow the treat with my eyes, therefore down goes my rump. Why do you insist on hissing "sssit?" Lucky wonders as he takes the treat delicately between his two incisors and crunches down. 

The weather looked to be good that night after an unending winter, so after a night of watching TV with us, we put his basket in the screened in porch for the night. The wind picked up in the middle of the night and was so strong it turned over a cot. In the morning I went to check in on him, but he had escaped through an opening in the screening the wind had blown open. 

It's been several days of looking for him, waiting for him and feeling someone missing from my heart.  A neighbor says her four cats, and the yellow tom are now all missing. We think the coyotes, who have come up from the valley looking for food with the drought this year must have found them.

Human beings are great, but they're not the heavy bundle of paws, fur and whiskers curled up on your lap that was Lucky.