And then there's the cats, of which there have been many. Growing up on a former farm in rural Manitoba, there were lots of cats. Too many to mention or frankly, remember. Most of them came from my uncle's barn. If we wanted a kitty, we could just drive over and pick one. The only one I recall in any detail is a fluffy white one called Squeaky, which I'm guessing probably had something to do with his or her voice as a kitten. We had one other cat, who's name escapes me, but who would go missing for several days or weeks at a time, then return in all manner of disrepair. We supposed it always knew where it could find food when hunger set in. I believe it may be this cat, which led me to adopt the belief all cats should be outdoor cats; a belief not held by many of my later suburban friends or acquaintances.
My wife and I are both cat lovers. Hell, we even saw the Broadway play...twice. I've already shared the tale of Scruffy the Street Cat from our university days. After school we acquired two feline friends. There was McAvity a quasi-calico breed, named after the magic cat from the aforementioned stage play based on T.S. Eliot's poem in the Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats) and Moli, a little black beauty, who was bequeathed her name in honour of Toronto Blue Jays Star and World Series Champion, Paul Molitor. I don't have vivid memories of either of these cats. I do, however, remember McAvity was attacked and receive a nasty and expensive wound from what we suspect was a raccoon just before we moved into our matrimonial home. As chance would have it, our newly fixed-up McAvity, would go missing a couple of months later. Such is the dilemma of having outdoor cats. Moli's unique characteristic was her ability to fetch a ball. I could throw a foam golf ball down the stairs or halfway across the house and she would come trotting back like a proud canine. She would eventually breed a litter of kittens and I forget how she came to no longer be with us.
Our next cat, however, etched a much stronger image in my mind. Gatlin, as he was aptly named by the Humane Society, was a fiery orange renegade. He was also the best mouser I've ever known. This cat, which we had declawed and equipped with bell on a collar, regularly brought her toys (aka mice) into the house. I could only imagine Gatlin stalking his prey in the woods out back with one paw on his bell and then having to literally beat his quarry into submission having no other weapons at his disposal. Even with these handicaps, we were woken on several occasions by the sound of him batting his captors' mostly lifeless bodies around on the kitchen floor. Other times, we would arrive home from an outing to find a frantic voicemail message from a neighbour saying she saw Gatlin with mouse in tow climb in the window we left open, prompting us to conduct a hunt for whatever was left of said mouse.
Gatlin's other memorable feature was his tail, or more specifically lack thereof. You see Gatlin went out on a bender one week and when he returned he was a little worse for wear; either got in a fight or hit by car. Either way, he was not in great shape. In fact, we would find out his tail was broken to the point of needing to be amputated. $500 later we had a cat with a what used to be a long flowing tail replaced by a short, little nub wrapped in a bright orange bandage. The nub gave a funny little twitch every time Gatlin got excited. I may have suggested any future cats we acquired would likewise need to have nubs rather than tales, which drew the ire of a few of the people I told.
Alas, Gatlin too would eventually disappear. We suspect this time at the paws or jaws of the coyotes we oft heard howling back in the forest late at night.
Though most of the cats we've lived with (because I believe no one truly "owns" a cat) met with untimely ends, I believe they all led free feline-friendly lives mostly on their own terms. I'm certain many of my cat-loving friends will disagree.