I’ve never really been big on pets, but when it comes down to it, I’m more of a cat guy.
I guess it goes back to the first pet I remember, a female tabby named Missy. She was a stray who took up with my family when I was a baby and stuck around for a few years, bearing a few litters of kittens.
Several of her orange tabby babies I named Daniel. Not sure why. However, there was a pair — a gray tabby and an orange tabby that looked like the kittens featured on one of my wall posters — that I named Thunder and Lightning. Seems we also had a Tiger and a Tigger, both gray tabbies, at some point, but my memory is a little fuzzy on them.
Then there was Scruffy, a kinda calico-ish cat, who apparently suffered from postpartum depression, as she would kill every litter she birthed — sometimes in ways that were baffling.
Through most of my formative years, however, we didn’t have any pets, aside from hunting dogs.
It wasn’t until just before I got married that I was again a cat owner. My then-fiancee decided to retrieve Mao Mao, a calico she had had since she was 12. By this time, Mao was getting pretty old, and several times I stepped on teeth that had fallen out.
When we separated, the cat stayed with me (because she liked me better) until the day came. Mao had been lying on the bathroom floor for two days and hadn’t eaten anything. I picked her up to take her to her food bowl and, along the way, her bladder gave way. I knew at that point that she wasn’t long for this world. I opened the front door and watched as she struggled to stand and walk away and find a place to sleep forever.
While I’ve never officially adopted a cat from a shelter, the most recent four could be considered rescues.
A few years after Mao died, I took in Prince, an orange-and-white longhair. My then-estranged wife was moving, and I didn’t want our daughter to lose another pet. Prince was a hefty lap cat who would hop up on you just as soon as you sat down. He also liked to use shoes as pillows.
About that time, I started dating again. My then-girlfriend had just lost her cat. So when my news director brought in a crate with four gray tabby kittens, I couldn’t resist.
I brought home little Janis, named after ’60s singer Janis Joplin. We soon discovered Janis actually was a boy so renamed him Keef, in honor of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. (Are you starting to see a pattern?)
One day, we had come from the bedroom to refill our cups with tea and then gone back. Forty-five minutes later, when we returned to the kitchen, we heard a pitiful mewing coming from around the fridge. Our first thought was that the kitten had gotten stuck behind or underneath. Turns out, he had climbed inside while the door was open.
Keef wasn’t very affectionate, but he would snuggle when he wanted to.
About a year later, another co-worker had found a tiny orange tabby kitten near a shopping center and was trying to find him a new home. So, of course, I obliged.
My girlfriend was on a Norse mythology kick at the time and was a fan of “Lord of the Rings,” so we named him Yngwie Gimli Gandalf of Asgard, the first name coming from Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. Since that was a bit of a mouthful, we just called him “YGG” (pronounced “Ig”), an anglicized version of one of the many other names of the Norse god Odin, which means “the terrible one.”
He wasn’t very terrible, but he did eventually wind up running away. I suspect it was because Keef had established himself as the alpha male of the group.
Like Mao, Prince was an older cat (not sure how old) and when I noticed similar signs, I opened the back door and let him wander toward the Rainbow Bridge.
It was just me and Keef until I decided to move to Richmond County to take a reporting job at this paper. However, he didn’t want to move. When I tried to bring him with me, he broke out of the carrier within five minutes on the road.
I took him back home, and he jumped out of the window. I saw him a few times when I went back to visit, up to a year later. But then no more.
I eventually was talked into getting a cat by the former editor and sports editor, both of whom are also cat guys. I got Mojo, a black cat, on Friday the 13th, from Moore County Animal Advocates.
Like most cats, he would rather play with the ring from a milk jug cap or a straw or some other bit of trash than with a store-bought toy (back when he was actually playful).
He also likes to climb up and lie around the back of my neck and across my shoulders — kinda like a scarf.
He’s a bit like Prince and demands affection. On a lazy “Caturday,” you can find him next to me on the couch as I binge-watch something on Netflix.
Some people are trying to convince me that he needs a buddy, but I’m not sure about having two cats in such a small apartment.
Maybe one day.
William R. Toler is editor of the Richmond County Daily Journal. Reach him at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]