I’ve always pictured myself as a dog person. If I could get past dog’s slobbering loyalty, dependence on humans and general urge to please. My first dog came into my life when I was seven. His name was Buster and he became my permanent companion. He slept on my bed. In return I fed him and removed “landmines” from the back yard. I had him for about four years. He got into a fight with the boxer across the street and died from complications. The next one was Phoebe. We got her from a couple who docked her tail to preserve their antiques. Phoebe’s exuberance was too much so my father and I visited and she came home with us. She didn’t seem unhappy to leave. She was hit by a car. I was going to the ball field. She ran ahead and crossed Farmington Avenue. She waited, but her loyalty made her run back across the street. Right into the path of a car. She died instantly. A driver stopped and pulled her corpse to the side of the road. My father called the dog catcher and had Phoebe taken away.
I didn’t want any more pets. They came anyway. The odd turtle found wandering the yard or a lizard found in the local brook. Furred pets made a reappearance in the form of a black kitten we named Cat. Cat was male and a potential Alpha male. When he wasn’t soliciting affection downstairs he lived in my room. As an adult, his nocturnal prowls were curtailed by my father. We worked out a method. I’d let him out the bathroom window. He’s work his way down the porch roof and onto a small maple. He’d climb down and prowl. In the morning he’d come back. There were times I’d have to keep him in my room to hide the results of defending his territory. We got along. He tolerated my father and sister. He loved me. July 17, 1967 I left for the service. He split the same day.
When I came back from the military I was too preoccupied going to school, looking for work and just generally living to have a pet. Along the way I wound up with a girl friend. She had two cats, a black one, Devil Cat and an orange one Murphy. Devil Cat was an indoor cat by choice. She saw no future in prowling for mice when humans dished out food. Murphy was a wonder. The lady spent money to sterilize him as opposed to neutering him. He roamed, mostly at night. We moved into her mother’s house after mom decamped to Florida. We got a dog with the house. The dog was one of those mixed breeds that had really good breeds in the mix. Devil Cat clawed the crap out of the dog. Murphy ignored it. My girl friend’s and my sex life ended when Murphy got hit by a car. She buried him and went into mourning with the dog. Devil Cat moved into my room. The relationship deteriorated and I moved out. I lived in a really rural part of the state. One night a feral cat walked in through an open door and curled up on my couch. Not a cuddly cat. She left. She was back a week later. Yep, I fed her. When she had her litter it was near my porch. I took care of her food needs so she could watch the kittens. I became attached. They left.
I moved back to my home town and shared an apartment with my sister. We were talking and she was going out with a guy who I got along with. at some point she started talking about getting a cat. The boy friend wasn’t thrilled neither was I. She wore us down. I called the shelter. There were no kittens. I found a seedy pet store in a seedy strip mall in town. Inside there were kittens. One in particular, it sat in the litter box and assaulted any of its cage mates who got near. She was the one. I paid and brought her home. While we waited for my sister to come home from work Maggie got familiar with her surroundings. When my sister got home she responded in her usual way to cute things. She scooped Maggie up. Maggie responded, with claws and teeth. Hence her full name Maggie the Cat From Hell. She hated my sister. One day my sister brought home a lithe slinky feline. My sister wanted to name her Sunshine, no, she was a Calpurnia. As in standing outside the bus station asking “Hi sailor, new in town?” My niece inflicted an orange kitten. He could stay if we’d name him Bill. I was in a Bill the Cat phase. Maggie got older and sick. The vet put her down. It hurt me a lot. Calpurnia died and Bill followed probably because he was lonely for feline companionship.
My sister married and died. That’s a real short version. He widower came home one night with Sophie, a black cat that adopted me. I think he became jealous because he brought home another cat. It’s been here at least a year and I don’t know her name. She hates me. But we have balance he has a cat on his bed and I have one on mine. Of course Sophie is an alarm clock, PITA and inert object.
We don’t own cats and they don’t own us. We’ve decided that if they’ll refrain from destroying everything we’ll feed them.