I’ve had a number of cats as pets over the years (or they had me). I’d probably still have one, if I wasn’t somewhat allergic to cat hair. I like them for several reasons. Among those reasons, they are independent and fairly low maintenance (unlike dogs). I was even able to teach a couple of them to fetch, which was much easier than I expected.

The first time happened by accident. I had just finished a pack of cigarettes and crumbled it up. I noticed the sound of crumbling cellophane drew the attention of my black, short-haired cat Nadir (I called him that because he was frequently directly underfoot). I continued to crumble the cigarette pack up into a ball until I had his total attention. Then, threw it across the room and he chased after it. He batted it a couple of times and then got it into his mouth. As soon as it was in his mouth, I called him to come to me. He got most of the way back before he dropped it, so I picked it up and did it again. He understood the game I was playing with him right away. After that, he could be totally asleep on the couch, but he would come instantly alert whenever I crumbled up a pack of cigarettes, ready to go chasing after it and play fetch with me..

Once, around the holidays, he was sleeping on the top of the couch. I stuck a couple of gift bows on his butt. Then, I crumbled up an empty pack of cigarettes. He sprang up, alert, and ready to play fetch. I threw the empty cigarette ball across the room. He dived after it and started running toward it, then he realized there was something on his butt. He suddenly lowered his butt in mid-stride and started dragging his butt across the floor, as if a big weight had unexpectedly been put on his back half.

It was pretty funny.

I had another black cat I was able to teach how to fetch later named Milo (or Milo Cat, or My Little Cat), but not every cat I’ve had was able to pick up on it. [I also used to be able to play hide and seek with Milo, but he was the one that always hided. Whenever I discovered him, he would jump up about 4 feet into the air sideways 2-3 times, before he would run off to hide himself again. He also didn’t mind riding in the car and would look outside the window at what we were passing.]

It’s funny how each cat has such a different personality from other cats (I assume that’s the same with other animals as well). Perhaps male cats are more aggressive in general, but it was a female cat that killed a bird to present to me in the bedroom. From what I can tell, no two cats are any more alike than any two humans.

Even earlier, I had a calico cat I named Loblolly, who was very independent. If I ever reprimanded her for anything, she would go to hide under the bed in the guest bedroom until I came and apologized to her. Nadir was one of her kids. If I reprimanded him for anything, he would be back in my face in a few minutes, begging for love and forgiveness.

My very first cat was a very beautiful white cat that I first named Fantasy but quickly renamed her Reality. There were a lot of jokes I could make about that. I could lose Reality, or hold Reality close, and so on. I finally had to give her up to a friend because I couldn’t keep her in the college dorms.

I’ve always had a weak spot for cats. Even after I had decided to never have another one (because of my allergies), I ended up semi-adopting one that I found in a very bad condition. She came up to me looking like she was starving. She was torn up like she had recently been in a fight, and she was the ugliest cat I had ever seen. I named her Grendel and took her back to my place to feed her. At that time, I lived in a garage apartment in the nicest section of town in Wilmington, NC. She ended up getting pregnant and having her kittens under the house next door. The kids in the house next door found her and her kittens, and her and her kittens ended up being adopted by the neighbors. So, there was a happy ending to that story.

This is me with Milo Cat almost 30 years ago…