We interrupt this regularly-scheduled series to bring you this special announcement. Our beloved orange tabby cat, Rascal, passed into spirit around 2 a.m. on a recent Wednesday morning.
He took his last breath in his bed, surrounded by family, who had stood watch over his last 24 hours, knowing his time was drawing near.
He was 17 years old, and will be sorely missed.
Rascal and his twin, Tigger, literally invited themselves into our home, in the Spring of 2006. My wife and I were walking one of our dogs down the road in front of our house, in a quiet subdivision in rural eastern Liberty County, and as we turned around to come back home, we noticed two young cats who had jumped out of a neighbor’s yard and were following us home.
When we turned around to unleash the dog, we saw that the two cats were busily feeding in the outdoor food bowl we had on our carport for our only feline resident, a black cat named Caesar, who had come to live with us as a baby only two years before.
I scooped them up, turned around, and walked them back to the neighbor’s yard where they had come from, and dropped them over the fence. Then I turned around and started to walk back home.
I wasn’t even half-way home when I noticed the two cats had gotten out of their yard, and were following me home again. I picked them up, walked back to the neighbor’s yard, and once more dropped them inside the fence.
I only got a short ways down the road when they both came happily trotting up to join me! I sighed, picked them up, and this time went to the neighbor’s front door and knocked on it.
When she came to the door, I told her what had happened, and that I was trying for the last time to bring them back to her house. Instead of thanking me, she surprised me by saying, “You can have them if you want! I have 17 cats, and I’m trying to find homes for them.” Well. At that point, I knew I’d already lost, so I shrugged and smiled, and said “OK.” They were cute young cats, less than a year old, I guessed, and we lived on half an acre, so we had plenty of room, with only one dog, a sweet cockapoo named Ginger, who was adopted from the Liberty County Humane Society, some years back; and our then two-year-old black cat, Caesar. No problem, I thought.
Well, that did NOT sit well with Caesar! He was used to being “Caesar the Mighty, Master of (his) Universe,” as he once told us was his full name. He did not want any competition, and let us know that in no uncertain terms! And for weeks to come.
His unfriendly attitude did not faze either one of our two new residents, however. They paid no attention whatsoever to his continued hissing and screeching, just gave him a look that said, “Can it, buster!” And went right back to feeding out of that bowl.
Our vet later told us to give them separate bowls, and put them in different places, and that did help some. But it was a long time before Caesar calmed down enough to accept their presence. A LONG time!
I have four younger brothers, and I quickly came to realize that all our pets, over the years, whether dogs or cats, have their own unique personalities, and can behave in very different ways. Just like my brothers did, Rascal was a very gentle cat, and loved attention. He would often come running up our long driveway, when I got home in the evenings, and ask to be picked up and held a bit, which I was always happy to do.
Tigger, on the other hand, was the complete opposite: if I picked him up to scratch behind his ears or pet him, he’d give me about three seconds (maybe five), and then he’d let me know – in no uncertain terms – that he wanted to be put down, and I mean RIGHT NOW!!
What a trip they were! Rascal had one other unusual trait: he liked to car-surf, on the roof of my car, when I would get home in the afternoons. He’d come running up the driveway, and when I stopped the car to get out and get mail out of the mailbox, he’d jump up on the hood and walk leisurely up to the roof. Then he’d turn around and sit down, and wait for me to slowly pull up to our house. When I parked the car, he’d get up, stretch his legs, and then jump off. “Thanks for the ride!” he would always wink at me. “Let’s do that again tomorrow!”
We have taken in another half dozen or so cats over the years since then, all strays who came looking for food and a place to call home. We would always take them to our vet as soon as we could, get them inspected, vaccinated, and neutered or spayed. That was always our condition of residence. And followed up with annually.
Pets can be wonderful additions to a household. We have thoroughly enjoyed ours. Rascal, we will surely miss you.
Semmes is a graduate of Savannah High and UGA. He lives near Midway.