Dogs Are Chosen: Cats Choose

Bob was our first cat.  He showed up one day at about the age of five months golden, lean, and full of attitude.  He accepted Linda’s generosity in the form of food and milk but gave little indication of gratitude.  We didn’t realize we were in the probationary period. 

Bob found a comfortable position on a limb that allowed him a good view through a window into our living room.  For three days he accepted our charity in the form of food and drink and watched our moves about the living room and as we moved in and out of our home.  After three days he must have deemed us acceptable, and we  became his worthy servants.

Bob began life with us with the name of Sugar; we thought he was a girl.  One day as he walked away from me, Sugar immediately became Sugar Bob.

Bob was a great companion.  One summer each day he sat comfortably among the rubble watching me remodel a bedroom.  He showed up every day on time and ready to supervise.  He didn’t seem to have a lot of critical remarks to make and seemed satisfied with my work and was a good listener when I needed someone to talk to about the frustrations of the remodel job.   I’ve never had a better boss.

Bob was an indoor-outdoor all-weather cat.  Of course this made him subject to accidents.  One day our neighbor the telephone man came to our door to inform us that he had seen a cat who looked like Bob who had been run over on a nearby street.

I went to the scene of the accident.  It was a cold and drizzly day.  Cats seldom look like themselves when they suffer the indignity of rain.  Bob was the only cat I ever knew who tried to run between the raindrops.  After a lengthy identification process, I made a positive ID of Bob and sadly headed home with the poor fellow in my arms.  As I rounded into the backyard where I intended to bury “Bob,” I saw Bob sitting on the back porch with a quizzical look which said, “What the Hell are you doing with that dead cat?”  I was thrilled to see  Bob alive and well, but I also realized that I had made a commitment to the dead Bob look-alike: I gave the stranger a dignified burial as promised.

Probably the funniest thing Bob ever said to me with a look occurred while I was under the house on my back doing some electrical wiring.  Bob was a great hunter of birds, mice, and rats and considered it to be part of his daily duties.  As I lay there trying to remember how the wires should be connected, I spotted Bob slowly walking along under the house with a huge rat in his mouth.  He paused his steps long enough to look at me quizzically to comment, “I know why I’m under the house, but I can’t  imagine why the heck you’re under here.”

Speaking of Bob’s hunting prowess, the cruelest thing I ever saw Bob do involved a baby bird he had captured.  He was not satisfied to use the little fellow for a snack or a trophy to proudly show Linda or me, but deemed to use it as bait.  He lay on this back in the middle of the back yard flipping the little bird in the air from paw to paw drawing a large and unhappy flock of adult birds.  The nearby trees and the roof of the garage were filled with these shrill protesters . They edged as close to the subject of their dismay as they reasonably dared.   Bob calmly lay there with his belly to the sky inviting the adult birds to save the little fellow.  Of course, there were no takers of the invitation, and Bob had to settle for a snack instead of a full course meal.  The deadly relationship between cats and birds truly troubles Linda; I’m a little more philosophical about it.

Like most outdoor cats, Bob encountered tough competition from other cats.  Bob had been fixed.  This was something I was hesitant to do but did hoping it would make Bob stay closer to home.  Fixing a male cat will make him not wander, but it won’t keep him from defending his territory.  Bob had an archenemy, another Bob look-alike who undoubtedly was a brother of Bob’s.  The look-alike had not been fixed and wandered on to Bob’s territory regularly which, of course, Bob objected to strenuously.  Many serious fights ensued.  I have to admit that although Bob gave it his best, being fixed, I suspect he had lost his edge in these fights.  Several trips to the vet’s office were necessary, but Bob always bounced back ready for the next encounter with his nemesis.

I tried to discourage the interloper from coming on to Bob’s territory, usually with a BB gun.  The darndest encounter I had with the interloper occurred one day when I suspected that he was on the roof tracking Bob down.  When I climbed the ladder with Linda’s trusty BB gun, there he was: I popped his rump twice with BB’s.  For a moment he froze undecided what to do.  Once he decided, I was quite surprised because he charged straight down the roof as though he were going to attack me.  He must have assumed that I was a much shorter fellow being that only my head and shoulders were above the roof line.  At the last moment he veered away and hung on the edge of the roof line with another decision to make: jump to the ground about twelve feet below,  or....   He jumped.  Eventually Bob’s archenemy disappeared undoubtedly the victim of one of the many calamities that can befall an outdoor cat.

Of course we had the vet give Bob all of his necessary inoculations including the vaccine for feline leukemia, a dreadful disease which runs rampant in the cat community.  It’s an immune deficiency disease which always ends badly.  One day we noticed that Bob was hiding himself from us.  Cats who feel the breath of death upon them will hide themselves away like this.  Off to the vet.  The vet could not imagine what was wrong with Bob and ran a series  of tests.  To his amazement, the test came back showing that Bob had feline leukemia, something he had been tested for and immunized against.  After consulting with half the vets in Texas, the doc came to the conclusion that Bob’s feline leukemia was in such an early stage of development when he was first tested that it had not revealed itself.  The vet prescribed interferon.  It worked amazingly well, and Bob was soon back to himself.  Life went on as usual for  Bob for about a year and a half.  Then one day he began to stumble: a tumor close to his spine was the diagnosis.  The Texas A&M animal clinic performed an operation, a successful operation, and Bob was  back to being Bob for several months.  But our luck was running out: he began to stumble again.  Our vet told us that interferon was no longer available for animals and suggested that we have  Bob put down.  I couldn’t do it...I just couldn’t. 

We took Bob home and made him as comfortable as possible in a shallow basket near the glass back door so that he could be entertained by the outdoors.   We fed him, bathed him when necessary, gave him the injections the doctor had prescribed, and I came home each day from work during my conference period to sit with him for a while.  Bob never complained.  Finally I realized that the end was near and called the vet to end a hopeless situation.  I was sickened by the fact that the vet was busy and would not be available until the next day.  I went to bed  too sick of heart to stay awake.  A few hours later, Linda awoke me to tell me that Bob had passed away.

I will never forget Bob, a good companion, a good friend.  He was followed by many other cats, all of whom volunteered to live with us just as Bob had, but Bob was the first and made the path to our hearts a wide one.


HOME page>                  NEW STUFF page> 
          WRITING CONTENT page>       GUEST ARTISTS page>Home_1.htmlNew_Stuff.htmlEssays.htmlGuest_Artists.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3