October 1st 2006 8:15 am
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Daddy is the most irritating cat I've ever known. When I'm cooking, he's right there begging, and waiting for something to be offered or dropped. He's right at home on the counters. He knows "get down!" very well, and usually jumps to the tops of the cabinets when he hears it. He watches like a hawk until dinner is plated, then makes his way out to beg of the diners.
But he came to us as a punch-drunk and hungry stray. Obviously a former housecat, he'd been neglected. He gradually gained our trust, and we got him to the vet. Cleaned up, fixed up, and neutered, he was our cat. Months later a young man in the neighborhood came to claim him. We were heartbroken, but stunned that Daddy obviously loved this kid. In shock, we stupidly let him go. Three weeks later, Daddy was back -- in the same condition in which we'd originally found him. I was heartsick, and my partner was furious. We will never let him go again.
Even though he's neutered, Daddy has remained the cock-'o-the-walk, the Alpha cat of all cats in the neighborhood. He terrorizes another tuxedo, a feral we've named Domino. Domino can't come to eat unless Daddy is inside. Daddy fights a lot. We never see the fights, but we see the missing tufts of fur, the blood, the vet bills. Last week he came home bleeding from the mouth and missing teeth.
Unless it's his incredible sweetness upon crawling into a lap, I really can't explain why Daddy holds such a special place in my heart. He makes biscuits for a little while, then turns around two or three times before settling into his nest. Even in his sleep, he purrs loudly enough to wake the dead. He's also fond of marking my face with the scent glands in his forehead -- in other words, he likes to head-butt me.
We have many cats, indoor (too many) and out (strays and ferals). I love them all, but somehow Daddy is the king. He's had a hard life, and in trying to make it easier for him, I've come to adore him like I've adored no other animal.
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