16 years ago, Rick and I went to PAWS to adopt two kittens. We originally wanted short haired kittens, but ended up with one short haired female kitten (Djuna) and one long haired male kitten (Little Bear). We named the male, Little Bear, because tiny as he was, his purr was SO LOUD, he sounded like a running motor or a growling bear. After a few weeks of keeping them indoors, we let the kitties outside. It wasn’t long before Djuna disappeared. We never found her again. Little Bear became a heavily doted upon only child.
I never had a cat before. My mother had a horror of cat claws. “Imagine what they could do to the furniture or GOD FORBID, to your eyes!!”, she would say. And she had a horror of seeing a cat in the house . I kept it a secret from her that we let our cat sleep with us, curled at our feet on the bed.
He has a wonderful character, is very smart, and he actually has a vocabulary of about 40 “words” or various sounds he makes to communicate with us or with other cats.
Never mind that he SHEDS all over the house, or that I am slightly allergic to him!! and get all stuffed up at night, this guy is very handsome and sweet and we adore him.
He is our buddy. And he really connects to the other man of the house, Rick. He punishes Rick by giving him the cold shoulder for a few hours if Rick leaves for a few days. When Rick is away at the coast or on a hiking or fishing trip, Little Bear lies on Rick’s side of the bed, stretched out on his side facing me, his little cat head on Rick’s pillow, and purrs himself to sleep, just like a little cat-man.
Well, today he is 16 years old and he looks as young as ever.
He was not always an angel cat. In his youth, he was the terror of the neighborhood and brought down many birds and butterflies and caught mice and voles … sometimes he ate them and sometimes he kept his prey alive! He no longer is interested in birds or other moving creatures. He also went through a terrible SPRAYING stage and targeted things Rick liked and used. These things included the TOASTER (talk about GROSS)!!!, Rick’s friend’s velvet lined violin case which was left open (perfect target), and music speakers. We lived in Wallingford where there were two or three cats at every house around us. The neighbor cats and Little Bear had turf fights. Little Bear would come in the house and start spraying, marking his territory. Over time, he stopped spraying, thank GOD.
If cats have 9 lives, Little Bear has used at least 8 of them already. He has had abscesses from various turf fights, three of which required him to wear an embarrassing lampshade-like Elizabethan collar and cost us a fortune in veterinarian bills. He once swallowed a huge bird WHOLE and ended up with kidney issues in the emergency room and a few overnight stays in the kitty hospital. I cried when I saw his skinny little forearm shaved free of all that fluffy hair with an IV in it! And then there was the time when we lost that little devil for about 4 months! We had moved from Wallingford to Green Lake, let him out one day, and he got lost. We looked and looked for him nightly, calling out his name. Months and months went by. And one day, at the dinner table, we had a big melt down, and Rick said, “He’s never coming back!!” So we bravely collected all of Little Bear’s things: his cat carrier, food and water bowls, bags of wet and dry food, flea medicines, cat comb, his feathered toys, his place mat, cat nip, kitty litter box and the extra bag of kitty litter, and his little bed. We cried the whole time we collected his belongings. Then we gave everything to our neighbors who had just adopted some kittens. We had bittersweet feelings as we watched the neighbor kids jump up and down with excitement from all these free gifts.
THE VERY NEXT DAY, I swear the very next day, we got a call from a woman named Orlinda Kelly. Now that’s a name I will never forget!. Rick answered the phone and he heard, “Hello, my name of Orlinda Kelly. Do you have a cat named Little Bear?”
For a split second, Rick thought about saying, “No.” We had done all our grieving! We had just given everything away and were ready to move on.
Well, well, well! …. Orlinda, who owned what she jokingly called “The Kelly Cat Hotel”, was an old woman from Hong Kong who explained to us that she had seen days of starvation in her youth and as a result couldn’t stand to see anyone/anything starve so she fed all the neighborhood stray cats, raccoons, squirrels, and birds. She lived some blocks away from us. Little Bear was living in a shed nearby and eating the food she put out. He had become wild and gaunt, but one day she was finally able to get a hold of him and see his collar (He still had his collar on!!) and finally she called us. He had to be trapped before we could bring him home. Orlinda Kelly cried as we took him home. Wild Boy scratched Rick and hissed at first. However, it didn’t take long for him to remember us and to become fat, fluffy and loving again.
Rick’s birthday gift to Little Bear: “I gave him five each of the goodies in the drawer, which he was hugely excited about! I’ll cuddle him extra tonight watching violin video and brush him lovingly.”
This is one lucky cat!
And I leave you with Rick’s description of the birthday cat right now: “Bear’s happy, running around, dashing up and downstairs, battling with his catnip mouse, talking a lot.”