Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Cat With Many Names

I've not done any of the Scalzi "Assignments..."  in fact, I only hear about them from the journals I read.  I don't actually go checking Scalzi's journal for the Assignment of the Week.  But I heard tell that he suggested writing about "old animals."  THAT was a subject I could warm to.

This boy came to live with us in July of 1978.  He was supposed to be a birthday gift for my husband...as much as you can make a "gift" of one life to another.  In one of those silly "what if" conversations we had as newlyweds, we decided we would name any male progeny we produced "Andrew Edward."  We must've known even then that we wouldn't be having kids, because the kitty got the name.
All kittens mew, and mew loudly, especially when they're fresh from the comfort of Mom and the rest of the litter.  Andy was no exception...he had a pretty impressive set of kitten pipes.  A couple of months down the road, when most kitties would have outgrown that kittenish yowling, we came to realize that Andrew would not only retain this characteristic, but his voice would mature and mellow into a cross between an air-raid siren and a foghorn.  In fact, there's no real way to describe the sound that came out of his face.  (We DO have one example of it captured on an old video...I would be tempted to make an audio entry of it, but the phone line would not do it justice.)  Mealtime--I call it feeding time at the zoo--was always something to hear.  The other cats (at one point, Andrew had seven "siblings") would put their two cents in...seven cats mewing politely for their dinner is noise enough.  But when number eight is bellowing like a young bull being castrated, you'd best jump up off that recliner and make with the cat food.  Now! 
Andy was the first cat I ever met who would "fetch."  We found this out quite by accident...we bought him some of those cute little foam "kitty toy" balls, thinking he would have fun batting them around.  Tossed one down the hall; Andy goes tearing after it, bats it around a bit, looks at it...you can see the wheels turning. And he picks it up in his mouth, trots back up the hall, and politely drops it at our feet.  "Throw it again.  It isn't any fun when I have to make it move!" He would "retrieve" that ball for as long as you wanted to throw it...until he was panting like a...well, I won't say it.  I don't want to insult his memory!  But he DID resemble a small, orange and white German shepard...  (Sorry, Roo!)
I could fill a book with Andrew stories.  No room, or time, for that here.  But here's something that anyone who knew Andrew knew about him.  He was the Cat of Many Names.  I've written this before---it's a tradition in our family that an animal never seems to retain its orignal name.  All of our cats have several, and they will answer to most of them.  Andy was the champ, however.  Of course, he was with us for many years, so there was plenty of time for him to rack up the names.  Here is the list of all I remember:
Andrew Edward:  Andrew, Andy, Roo, Rooter Roo, Two Roos, TwoRoos Lautrec, An-you (conferred on him by one of my nieces...we actually changed the spelling to "On-you," because that was where he always wanted to be...), Nyou-Nyou, Andy Eddy, Eddy Spaghetti (after his favorite food), Edvard Spagednadze (the Russian skater version); when he got old and FAT, we added Lucky Belly and King Ookie-Ookie (or just Ook) because he'd sit like Buddha, licking his oversized belly and making these little "ook" sounds.  And of course, there was "Andrew Goddammit," the name we hollered at him when he would chase his sister Percy around the house just to hear her scream. 
At the age of sixteen, Andy became deathly ill---at a time when we were, of course, totally broke. Even so, we spent an obscene amount of money getting him diagnosed and treated.  Never gave it a second thought, really, even when one particularly insensitive veterinarian suggested that we might want to put him to sleep rather than invest that kind of money into a sixteen-year-old cat.  It turned out he had developed diabetes...once we figured it out, it was a relatively simple and inexpensive fix to buy the insulin and shoot him up twice a day.  He was with us for two more years, living the quieter, gentler life of the "Old Gentleman Cat"...except for the voice...he never lost THAT.
Andy died in 1996 at the age of eighteen.  Long time ago...old cat.  But I can hardly see to type, thinking about it.  Ah, I still miss him!
 
 

11 comments:

  1. We had a cat with a voice like that. Yours sounds absolutely wonderful.

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  2. Wonderful reminiscence, sounds like a fun kitty.  One of the major perks of pets is you can name them and call them whatever you wish!  Such names as we'd never saddle our children with!  

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  3. Ahhhhh....I know about the name thing.  I have only had one animal, Wild Thing, a black and white cat.  How I loved that cat.  I called him Cat.

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  4. I think your pet story is my favorite of all the stories I have read...  

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  5. Ohhhhh Lisa, that was such a great cat story!  Two more years with him is wonderful after that diagnosis.  We spent $1500 bucks on our Paco kitty last year when the Boxers bit his head and broke his jaw in two places!  Then, a few months later, after he was healed, he disappeared...most likely coyote dinner.  I was devastated.  I loved that cat like a child.  No wonder you didn't have kids, you had plenty with Andy and his siblings!  Lisa

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  6. What a beautiful and sweet cat and what a great story.  I know how you miss him.  Our "Old Man Cat" got hit by a car a year ago and I still look for him in the windows.  And our neighbor's cat still comes around looking for him occasionally -- they used to sit "together" on either side of the porch.  

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  7. Andrew sounds like a sweetheart! I had an Andy too---among his names: Andy Panda and Whisker Wonderful. He was so sweet, I always said if he were a man, I would marry him:)

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  8. Oh my, we have a cat too.  He is the first animal our family has had this long and gotten this attached- Slick will be 8 years old on Halloween.  Matthew named him after the cat in Grumpier Old Men.  He is also very overweight sitting like a budha to groom himself.  He is tirelessly lazy, eating, sleeping and grooming, thats about it for him.... unless a dog is around.  He is the type of cat that won't let a dog just pass on by, oh no, he LOOKS for the fight and he has whooped some lab and shepherd ass in his lifetime.  I only know of one time he lost and that was to another cat, he was roughed up good but I bet the other cat looked pretty bad too!    Kristi

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  9. Ah...this was so beautiful. How could you say you didn't have kids of your own. He sounds like he was a member of the family. But holy crap eight cats!!! I'm glad you weren't single. ;-) ---Robbie

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  10. Awwww, how sweet!  How nice that 18 years of life were spent with such a friend as that.  The pictures are adorable, too. :-)

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  11. hestiahomeschoolJune 17, 2004 at 1:40 AM

    We had a cat whose name was Bacchus...and like your cat family members, none of our animals or children retain their original names...but this is what surprised me: our Bacchus became Baccharoo, then Roo, then Rooter, then Rooter-roo, sometimes just Roo....like your Andrew!
    My daughers are Amanda Mae (Mandy Mae, but I call her Beauty), Tabitha Marie (We call her Leu), and Shelby Lynn (Shelly-belly).  Atticus the Gryehound is Attie, but mostly My Handsome Furry Man.  Delialh, the other greyhound, is LiLi, but also Lilabug, Bug, or now that she is permanently limping, Limpus, or even worse, Limpus Biscuit.
    I am glad you had Andrew as long as you did.  We lost Rooter Roo at eleven.

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