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Cat Tales
by Doug Hawley

Back in Portland OR USA when I was a child our cats were all outside cats and being on a fairly busy street and not being too smart, they usually died from being hit by cars. My unpleasant job was burying one, but not deep enough as my father found out when plowing.

Only two of the early cats, Sofia Hergenmergen (from the Steve Canyon comic strip) and Mop Cat stick in my mind. Sofia was a calico, who I believe gave birth while we had her (we weren’t that good at spaying then). She was petite and walked like rabbit with a little hop in her step. Mop cat resembled a black mop and was so cool.  He trained me so he would lie on his back on my outstretched arm. Try that with your cat. He was also featured in a dream that I had. The details are sealed for opening after my death.

After I left home and eventually got married and a house, my sister-in-law gave us her cat called Frodo (Lord of the Rings). I was Bored Of The Rings (Harvard Lampoon, somewhat amusing), so he was changed to Batface based on his big ears and prominent canines. Best cat ever, except for being a bad lover and fighter. After repeated injuries to his tail when he ran from fights, we had him neutered. We had received him in Denver, where he would chase the nine o’clock moths, and bring them in as if they were electric bowties. His other trick was to escape from the basement by wedging himself between two metal surfaces and using them to climb vertically to the next floor.

Batface stayed with us through two moves in LA and a couple of moves in Marin. Through the whole thing, he was an excellent companion. He not only liked us, but would hang out with people who walked in front of our house.

He was involved in a hallucinatory moment for me.  I saw two of him at his food bowl one day. After much gawping, I discovered that one of him was skinnier and in fact an interloper from another house.

Sometime in there we got another sister-in-law cat Jaws, the evil eponymous cat of “Cat Of Hanley”

We tried to keep Batface indoors at night for his own good in Corte Madera CA, but one night I let him out when I wasn’t thinking straight. He came home that night injured and died shortly thereafter. I cried.

We decided that we should get a couple of cats next so that they would have company. Brother Boots and sister Pooch (editor though that Puss was too risqué) joined us.

Smaller Pooch was the boss.  She was not happy when Boots tried to mount her after she had been spayed. After that she ruled the litter box (he tried to bury his Tootsie Rolls as deep as he could) and laps (if she was there first he would stay away, if he was there first she chased him away).

One morning we heard a thud while we were in bed. Boots had either died and fallen or fallen and died. Pooch didn’t seem upset.

Orville (we think based on Redenbacher), an orange cat, started to flop in front of us after his people died as we walked.  He was such a pleaser, that we didn’t mind when he moved to a house across the street. Word on the street was that he was always looking for his main chance. If our information is correct, he finally died in his mid-twenties. His new people said that he meowed once and went.

Pooch made it to twenty and a half. Towards the end we were administering regular subcutaneous fluids. Letting go was hard.

We got Harriet, the hairy pet, indirectly from a fellow hiker. She was old when we got her and didn’t last too long, but while she was around, she was very mellow. Unlike most cats, carrying her upstairs didn’t bother her at all. Only food got her excited. She slept in the opposite direction as me at night with my hand on her belly.

Our last is Kitzhaber, formerly called Honey by his late owner, because she couldn’t remember his name. He is now named after a failed Oregon governor. His main activities are dumping, crying for food and lying about wanting you to rub his belly. He gets credit for renaming himself Fireball in the fiction “Cat’s Religion” and reinforcing a life lesson by piecing my flesh when I displease him.

Four feral cats are split between a neighbor and us. After years of feeding them, they still don’t trust us. All are gray, but different sizes, and hang out together, but don’t get close to people.