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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who absolutely love their pets, and those who look upon house pets as a bother and a nuisance. Please, keep the second type of people away from me!

It occurs to me that within those who absolutely love and adore their pets, there is as definite subdivision: cat lovers and dog lovers. Oh, occasionally you might run into a household that is "bi-petual", with both a pooch and a kitty tearing around the furniture, but many of us are purists.

When I was but a boy on the farm, we were in fact, "bi-petuals", more out of necessity than anything else. There was our trusty cow dog, Skippy, who was primarily collie with a healthy mixture, and then there were the "barn cats" that multiplied many times over and were kept only in the barn as mousers... and occasionally were forced to be my captive audience when I first began playing guitar because I would capture as many as I could in the bushel basket and lower them to the bottom of the empty silo floor where they could not escape the loud chording and my rendition of Be Bop A Lula -- I know the true meaning of the word caterwauling.
But here it is May 20, 2009, and time to celebrate the first birthdays of our newest family members, Stella and Hammy. (Hammy only gets called Hamilton when he is in deep trouble - which is much of the time as he suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder.)

I have been very fortunate in choosing feline friends. Back in 1976, when I first separated from my first wife and took a small apartment at 1001 Main Street, Eau Claire, while teaching at DeLong Junior High School, I asked around among the faculty if anyone had a kitten they would like to have adopted. Eventually, the school secretary got word that I was looking for a kitten and she said she had a prospect for me. This cat turned out not to be a kitten, but a cat about a year old.

There is an old saying about cats. you don't adopt a cat. a cat adopts you. This cat obviously didn't take to me as within two days, when I answered the door to a 7th Day Adventist, the cat bolted past me at a high rate of speed, straight out the door and disappeared in a blur. I'm afraid the 7th Day Adventist was close behind because I shouted "JESUS CHRIST!" when the cat flew by.

Two days later I checked with the Eau Claire Humane society shelter. The woman escorted me into a room filled with cats in cages -- and one caught my eye. she was a beautiful tabby, rust orange in color, and she spotted me about the time I spotted her and it was love at first sight. She began reaching through the cage wires with her paw, beckoning to me with gentle mews.

Even as I crossed the room to her, I knew I was hooked. After talking with this rusty beauty for a minute or two the woman asked if my cat was anywhere in the many cages. I looked around, and sure enough, there was my escapee. Totally ignoring me.

"Do you see your lost cat?" the woman asked again.
"No", I lied, "but is this cat available?"

That was Rose. She was my long time companion and lived to see my marriage to Kim Wilson and much beyond. She is buried near the house.

Next came the brother/sister team of Harley and Hannah. Harley was a big black and grey tabby - a great friend to me - my buddy - but scared of his own shadow. His sister, Hannah, was a short, pudgy,grey and black tabby - she was Kim's constant companion and the Queen of the House. She also had an awesome temper.

Unfortunately, last year, Hannah developed stomach cancer and had to be put down. Less than a month later, frightened by a loud sound, Harley got his rear claw caught in a rug and tore the tendons in his right rear leg so badly that they could not be repaired and he, too, had to be put to sleep.

Kim and I had vowed that we would have no more pets. Within a matter of months, however, I missed all the love, companionship and all out shennigans that cats can bring to a household.

One day, while we were driving past the Humane Society, which is only about two miles from our place, I coaxed Kim into "just looking".

I spotted this little grey kitten, nestled up with her rusty hued brother. Stella has such unusual markings. And she is my little pal. She loves to jump up next to me while I am watching TV and nestle in the crook of my arm and gaze up at me. She loves to tear newspapers and cardboard boxes into little shreds.

Hammy is Kim's pal of pals -- he is constantly in motion when he is awake -- charging around the house, playing with anything and everything. They are both easy going and love people. There is nobody that visits that doesn't end up surrounded by both of them, getting a full check-out.

I have been very fortunate to have had really wonderful cats over the years! And Hammy and Stella are just the best!!!


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