Someone in the family, I don't know who, brought a couple of young cats into the household.
I'm told the cats had been left at the door of our local veterinarian—abandoned. Doc neutered them, gave them their shots, and made them available to the first taker...free.
That’s the propaganda that’s being foisted upon me, anyway. My family knows that I’m a sucker for anything that can be gotten free. Like when my neighbor yelled: “Hey, Carl! You want my old charcoal grill. One of the legs is rusted off, and I lost the part you grill on, but most of the charcoal stays inside. You want it? It’s free!”
The grill is behind the shed; my favorite place to hide the things I’ve brought home for “parts.”
Anyway, hearing that these young mousers hadn't cost me anything, and had been rendered incapable of spawning even more mouths to feed, I welcomed them into the family.
Our old tom cat “Kitten” recently went on to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Arguments continue over how long he lived. The boys say four of five years; my wife says ten, at least. I say it was eleven, but it seemed like twenty, since Kitten had a nasty (or unfortunate) tendency to be in my path whenever I happened to be moving around the house in the dark.
I’d be up in the middle of the night, groping my way toward the bathroom or the refrigerator (I don’t know why I haven’t put a refrigerator in the bathroom yet!) and I’d step on Kitten's foot, or tail.
We would both howl; Kitten as he tried to fight off the demon that was attacking him in his sleep and me as I tried to levitate from my one foot while maintaining control of my bladder. I would take an aspirin in an attempt to minimize the damage from the impending heart attack, and sit up for the next two hours, waiting for the adrenaline to subside. Kitten always sat up with me, probably more for self preservation than a desire for quality together-time.
Over the last few years, Kitten had gotten into the habit of thanking me whenever I opened the door to let him in or out. It was just a little, trilling sound. I think he appreciated the fact that I pronounced his name correctly - Kitten preferred the more French Creole sounding "Key-tawn." He wasn't really from Louisiana, but he wanted everyone to believe that he was. I miss Kitten.
The new cats have been named, several times, and will continue to be named and re-named for some time to come. Eventually, we'll pare the selections down to two or three names for each of them. If they survive to old age, one of those names may stick.
For now, I think I’m going to enjoy Smoky, Butter, Sophie, Stinky, Sly, Maurice, Fluffy, Boots, Ricochet, Peanut, and Walt—both of them.