Family Felines, Pt. 1

I’ve attempted several times to write about all the cats my family has had over the years but I keep getting stuck. There’s always been at least one cat in our house for as long as I can remember. Most were rescues; some adopted, and even a second generation from a few. Didn’t realize just how many we’ve had until I counted out all the names. Twenty-one that’s the last count.

Want a full list of names? I’m more than happy to list them all but only at the end as a sort of recap maybe. The first ones I remember are Smokey, Chester, and Hunter. Smokey was my brother’s cat. The only memory I have of him or relating to him is taking him to a veterinarians so he could be put down and he wouldn’t suffer from a disease and crying in the car with my mother. I would have been four I believe.

Chester belonged to my sister. Bought him from a store when he was a kitten and I used to run up and down the hall dragging a string and he’d chase me. That ended up being a bad idea. He would then chase after and attack me even when I had no string. Chester ended up attacking my mother when she was petting him; he just turned and attacked her pretty badly so she had him put down before he could hurt anyone else.

Hunter was my first cat. Sadly the only real memory of him is when he’d use the toilet. Yep, my cat would pee into the toilet when he wasn’t spraying everything. We just wished he’d learn to flush after using the toilet, would have been even more impressive. Hunter died from being poisoned. We lived near a corn elevator and our cats came and went as they pleased. They hunted down by the elevator and around the surplus piles. We figured he must have eaten a mouse that ate some poison that the elevator employees left out. He just lied down in a basket, refused to eat or drink, and eventually died. If you know how rat poison works then you have some idea how painful his death had to have been.

While Chester and Hunter were still alive we found a Momma Kitty in the garage of the house we were living in at the time. She didn’t stick around too long; just long enough to get pregnant again by one of the boys then give birth. There were two kittens; Henri (French pronunciation) and Pounce. Pounce went to live with family friends and Henri became my brother’s cat. Well, he became a family cat really. He loved us all but we’ve always said he was my brother’s. He outlived most of the others. I believe he was the beginning of me being Dr. Doolittle. He would follow us around wanting love and food. Henri would even follow me when I was outside walking to friend’s house or to school. I think he wanted to know we were safe. Of course it could have just been curiosity, wanting to know where we were going. I don’t think the elementary school staff liked that very much though especially the one time he came inside the building. He wouldn’t let anyone near him until I went over to him. I picked his butt up, put him outside and told him to go home. I want to say I was probably in second grade. If you can imagine a seven or eight year old picking up about a ten to fifteen pound cat, hauling him out the door with students and a couple of teachers around, putting him on the ground then pointing with one hand, the other on a hip, telling a little big kitty “Bad Henri, go home,” you can imagine how funny that had to seem to watchers.

He was a pretty big cat most of his life but that didn’t mean he couldn’t hunt. Between Henri, Chester, and Hunter our house didn’t have any mouse that wasn’t dead seeing as the boys loved to leave us gifts. Almost every time we opened the door there was a dead mouse gracing the front step. He taught our next cats how to hunt mice. Rubbed up against or antagonized the dogs we sometimes owned. He’d hunt down birds and was pretty good at that too. We moved a few times while he was alive and he’d always find a place to hunt. Apparently he got too close to a nest in one of the towns because he’d always be walking back from a yard and across the road all the while being dive-bombed by several birds. He’d drop to the ground several times to get out of their reach or get so tired of it he’d zoom across the street to safety. He was the alpha cat most of his life. Not taking shit from any of our other cats or ones that would step into his territory. He had his fair share of scars.

He lived for about ten or eleven years; which was a good portion of my life at the time. My family had moved almost a complete circle those last years of his life. We went from Nebraska to Iowa to Kansas then back to Nebraska again just an hour south of where we had lived three years prior. Henri had been around a lot of pretty much the same weather just different degrees of it; mainly thunderstorms, hail, and even a 60 mile per hour wind storm in Kansas. Nasty weather was a normal part of his life. However with age his body wasn’t keeping up so well; he suffered from some pretty bad arthritis. We think or rather I think that he’d had enough of the arthritis pain one stormy night and laid down where he knew would make it end. We had been out working around the yard that day and were hurriedly trying to put everything back. My mother went to move her van and backed over him. Usually when you’d start one of the cars any of our cats know to skedaddle out of there. This time that didn’t happen. Even after being taken to a veterinarian’s office it was too late, the van did its damage and my mother hasn’t forgiven herself to this day for it.

That’s five cats down. In a couple of days I’ll post again about them. The next cats I remember more about so it’ll be even more. Happy New Year Everyone!

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