I have a cat. He is a good cat. He is a gray and white long hair. He isn’t the best cat or the prettiest, or the smartest I’ve had. But, he is my buddy.
About four years ago, I got a phone call about a cat that needed a home. A family had moved and left a cat behind. They needed to get him out of the house.
So I drove over, expecting the worse. I got a team together. I was planning on how to catch or trap this cat. How to wrap it in a towel and get it into a carrier and then how to get it home. When we got there, we carefully opened the front door and went inside, closing the door behind us. The house was empty of furniture. I walked to the back. And I met my buddy.
His name, I was told, is Peanut. I don’t know why his name is Peanut. He isn’t small.
He was a young adult male, sort of large. His bushy tail was crooked- bent like it had four knuckles but fully functional and expressive. He had a full face of long fur. A great white ruff under his chin. His head and feet were large. His body and legs were short. He looked like some 1940’s cartoon version of a cat. He had bright green eyes.
I found him in a back room. He came up to me and rubbed his head on my leg. I picked him up and looked him over and he made no complaint or effort to struggle. “Peanut.” I said to him. I put him in a cat carrier and drove him home.
Once at home three things were apparent. One was that he would follow me around from room to room. The other was that he would knock things off of tables and shelves and counters. And the third was that he didn’t leave the other cats alone.
We had three other cats. Two were very old. Amazingly old. One was only a little younger. He chased them. He left bits of fur everywhere. He wouldn’t leave them alone when they ate. He would trap them in the litter box, not letting them leave. He would jump them when they were sitting or sleeping or cleaning themselves. Silently. Without growling or challenging…
He never seemed to growl unless really provoked. He didn’t like to be held. Didn’t sit on laps. He sort of grunted. And I didn’t know if that was his attempt to purr or if he just had some sort of nose problem. One day my son noticed that he rocked back and forth as he sat in the window.
He had a few toys… but he seemed to prefer whatever was forbidden. He also liked to watch glasses of water tumble off the table or the arm of the couch. Whatever was left out… from the TV remote, to my son’s contact case, would be knocked onto the floor. And Even now, he follows me into the bathroom and jumps up on the sink to knock down the toothbrush holder, toothpaste, the comb, and the contact case.
Sometimes he would jump up on a shelf on the other side of the room. He would look straight at you and knock stuff down. Sometimes he would reach for things with his oversized paws. He’d reach out and spread out his fingers as if he would grab it.
And then there was the cat harassment.
It made my son Ethan angry. Not only did he yell at Peanut. He would squirt him with water from a spray bottle. One day he was so angry at Peanut that he grabbed him and tossed him in the shower, turned on the water and closed the door.
It seemed like everybody yelled at Peanut. The other cats would see him and hiss. And he would sit there with his ears forward, attentive, unphased, with his cat face on. That seemed a bit odd. Maybe he was psychotic. Maybe he was an asshole.
For a while, he got banished to the laundry room. He had his own litter box. He ate alone. He was rarely seen. Eventually, he was paroled. Everyone called him asshole kitty.
We made toys- sticks with string and colored bits of cloth, to play with the cats and I made time to play with him daily- to wear him out. We played a bit with each of the cats every day. Marquita, my wife, bought this herbal stuff to rub on the cats and put in their water. Bully remedy. Stuff to calm them all down. Who knows, maybe it worked.
One day, he injured one of the other cats. This was the youngest of the other cats- Chili. He had bitten Chili’s ear, and it filled with fluid and wouldn’t heal. We took Chili to the vet and the vet had to sew a piece of x-ray film to the injured ear to keep it from withering up. The film allowed the ear to heal stiffly and roughly ear shaped, but it was never the same.
Eventually, the older cats died. Peanut didn’t kill them or anything. They were over two decades old and just finally gave out. He mellowed a bit as he got older… and sat near the other cat on occasion.
Eventually, my son, Ethan died as well. Peanut didn’t kill him either. But he is gone.
I think of Ethan when I hear Peanut grunt or when I see him rocking gently in the window or when he knocks stuff over. I think of Ethan when Peanut sits on the couch behind my head and makes menacing gestures with his oversized paw. And when he peers in the downstairs shower, I wonder if he thinks of Ethan as well.
Peanut follows me around from room to room. He walks on me. He sits near me. He knocks stuff onto the floor. He does bother Chili on occasion, but not frequently, not daily. And sometimes he purrs. When I have my morning tea and cereal, he sits on the keyboard of my laptop and looks very content. He is my buddy.