The Cat I Love the Most

Cats have always been a part of my family. Even before I was born my parents had a cat (a Siamese). The fact that Shalom was noisy and rambunctious provided them ample opportunities to become acclimated to a baby (especially the ‘inconvenience’ of getting up at all hours of the early morning), or so they told me. Siamese cats are famous (or infamous) for being talkative and active animals and Shalom was no exception to the rule. Our apartment had high ceilings, twelve feet high, and, in the living room, trough like light fixtures. (The lights were florescent and the tubes were set in a rectangular case the side ‘panels’ and the front ‘panel’ of which was about a foot higher than the base, this gave the compartment the look of a trough.) Shalom found these light fixtures irresistible. She would get on the back of the sofa, which was directly under two fixture that ran side by side, and attempt to jump into them. She could not make it up, because the fixtures were too high up (about ten feet from the ground) and, even if it had been lower down the wall, had she made it up, she would have found that there was nowhere for her to walk, never mind to sit. However, Shalom was persistent, and would often attempt to make it up into the fixture. The biggest problem was that every time she tried she came up short and she would land on a tapestry. It did not take long for the tapestry to be moved. Shalom, however, was not to be thwarted in her efforts and continued her ‘assault,’ even though, after the tapestry was moved, she had nothing to sink her claws into and break her fall.

When I was eight, and my brother seven, Shalom died. Mom and Dad got us two other kittens. I named mine Frodo while my brother named his Sam. (Dad had already read The Hobbit to us and we were working our way through its successor, The Lord of the Rings.) Frodo was a beautiful cat. He was mostly black with brown markings on both sides. However, his paws, bib, belly, and face were white, but his nose was pink, with a black dot on its tip. He had green eyes.

At first Frodo was very shy, or else he was afraid of his new surroundings. He spent the vast majority of his time under my parents’ king size bed. I remember getting on my belly and peering under the bed just to look at him and to ‘talk’ to him. I found this extremely exasperating especially since Sam, though not into being petted, was out and about, exploring the apartment and hanging around with the family. It took a while, but Frodo finally came out of his fortress stronghold. And once out, he proved to be the more sociable of the two cats. When friends came to visit Sam was the one who would hide while Frodo would investigate and demand attention.

Three years after Sam and Frodo became a part of our family, we moved from the big city to a small suburban town, and from an apartment to a house. Once again Frodo was the more adventurous of the two cats. After acculturating himself to his new environs he spent more time outside, and we saw Frodo further from home than we saw Sam. Sam was decidedly a stay-at-home cat. Even though both cats had been declawed, no more repeats of Shalom’s marking up art work, they hunted mice and other small animals. On a number of occasions I saw Frodo bat at mice with his paw, unaware of his inability to hurt them, not that way. Nevertheless, he was an efficient hunter, as was Sam, and both cats brought us many ‘presents.’ They did wear collars that had a small bell attached, this made it harder for them to hunt birds. Even though he was declawed I recall that Frodo climbed part way up a tree once. One afternoon, when I came home from school, Mom told me that Frodo was up a tree. How he had managed to climb up was beyond us (we figured that he must have been very strong to have gotten that far up, either that or he was very frightened by something), but he had gotten to the second limb and was lying across it, looking down. I suppose he was puzzling out how he was going to return to terra firma.

Frodo was an affectionate cat; he would spend an hour or more sitting next to me and, for as long as I had the interest, he would show his appreciation for my petting him by purring up a storm. In fact there is a photo of me at nine years of age. My right arm in a sling (all that because the right pinkie had been broken and I was recovering from surgery). I’m sitting on that same white corduroy covered sofa from which Shalom use to jump in her vain efforts to reach the light fixture, and beside me is Frodo. I like to think that he knew something was not right and that I needed his presence.

In his fifteenth year Frodo got lost. It was summer and I was home from college. Frodo was staying with my mom and she had recently moved into a new house. One evening Frodo did not return home. He spent most days outside, and would come back for dinner before twilight. The next morning there was still no sign of him. Notices, with a picture of Frodo, went up all over the neighborhood. It was days and no one called or stopped by to say that they had seen him. I had given up hope. Ten days after he first went missing, I was sitting out on the porch, look out over the long winding driveway, and then I espied a cat. My heart raced. Sure enough it was Frodo. Where he had been was anyone’s guess. That night he slept by my head. He had never done that before. The next afternoon an elderly man called. “I found your cat,” he told me. Stunned silence on my end. “I found your cat,” he repeated in a loud voice. “Thank you,” I said. “He came back last night.” We went back and forth two or three times like this, the gentleman was hard of hearing, at last I asked if I could come by. He gave me his name and address, and off I went. The cat he found was pacing with great vigor (or was it agitation) across some shelves under a window at the back of the garage. Then I explained that Frodo had returned the previous night and wished the man good luck in finding this cat’s rightful owners.

Above all else, Frodo was a friend. I could tell him anything and the secret was safe. I could be with him, without saying anything, and that was fine by him. Fortunately, for me, Frodo preferred my company to being by himself, so I was blessed by his company.

The Cat I Love the Most

AJFletcher

Joined January 2008

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Artist's Description

This is about a boy and his cat.

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cat pet

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  • Cheyenne
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