I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.
― Jean Cocteau
**Happy ending alert: This cat does not die at the end of my post!**
I don’t read books or blog posts about pets. I don’t watch movies about pets. I know how they’re going to end and I know it’s going to make me cry.
Why do we only write epitaphs and obituaries for the animals we love? Do we only recognize how much we love them when they die?
I know exactly how much I love my cats and I know how special they all are, but one of them is special beyond measure. I want you to know about him without crying at the end!
The cat’s name is Blondie, a funny name for a huge, yellow boy. He was a stray at our summer place, years ago, and since he was around so much, we needed a way to refer to him. He was pale yellow so we cast around with all our creative energy, and called him Blondie.
When he finally became ours, the name had stuck.
When he first started coming around, he was pitiful. He was big but very thin, which made his legs seem too long. Now he’s quite plump and my mother always says, “Blondie used to be much taller.”
He now has long luxuriant fur but, back then, it was matted and he had licked himself bald in places.
He had a circuit he made, trying to find food and he covered a lot of ground. Neighbors would say, “I saw that cat you’ve been feeding at the community college,” (two miles away) or “That cat you’re going to adopt was at our house yesterday” (two miles the other way).
And, yes, we fed him. You would’ve fed him, too. Because as hungry and pitiful as he was, all he did was purr. And he has been purring his big, deep, resonating purr ever since.
He purred when we fed him and let him into the house. He purred when he wanted to go back out and we wouldn’t let him, even though he was a little nervous about that.
He purred when we put him in a cat carrier. And put him into a car. And drove with him 400 miles. And he got carsick and everything. He was very nervous about that.
He purred when we took him directly to the vet to be neutered. When the vet said, “He probably has feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukemia and will need to be euthanized,” the cat purred, while I cried.
But he was fine! So we took him home and made this rambling boy a house cat for 8 months of the year. We made him live with two other cats. And he purred.
He has purred ever since. And he has adapted. He has the heart of a lion and has become the center of the cat family. We call him the captain of the varsity and the other cats pay him obeisance and take turns curling up with him.
People love him, too. More than once, workers who’ve come to the house have taken one look and said, “Now, that’s a cat!” Because he’s big and hunky and bear-like, he appeals to people who don’t normally like cats. Once, a deliveryman came to the house, and Blondie streaked out the open door to get outside. The pizza guy said to my husband, “Hey, mister, I think your dog just got out!”
Blondie protects what he sees as his. He has taken on dogs, large and small, who have ventured into his world and woe be to those dogs! Cats who don’t belong to his family are directed to leave and large waterfowl are summarily dismissed!
Blondie has been with us for many years now. We live in a spot where he can go outdoors but he never goes far. His favorite spots are kind of half in and half out—in the doorway, on the deck, in the nearest garden (the one with the catnip!) And he purrs.
We keep a close eye on him. We give him special food now and let him eat where no one can bother him. We whisk him the vet (she loves him!) at the smallest sign of a problem. We stop what we’re doing and pay attention when he comes by for love.
It’s as if we know how lucky we are!
And that makes Blondie purr.