● By Wendy Sipple
Photo courtesy of Tom Mailey.
I’ve never been much of a cat person. I’m not anti-cat; I’ve had my share of them growing up, but they’ve always seemed a little stuck-up.
It probably says a lot about me that I feel more comfortable around a needy, slobbering dog than I do the aloof dignity of a poised, regal cat.
However, back in November my radio partner Pat Still and I were broadcasting from a parade the day before Thanksgiving in Loomis. It’s an annual event we’ve enjoyed being a part of for the past 16 years. This year a gentleman came over to our broadcast location carrying a large box. Now, we’re used to people bringing us goodies on parade day...coffee, muffins, that sort of thing. But inside we saw six furry little kitten faces looking back at us. The man explained that he’d just found them at the backdoor of a nearby restaurant, apparently abandoned.
People began gathering (kittens are apparently a lot better at drawing a crowd than middle-aged radio guys) and soon, five of them were in the arms of new owners. No, it’s not the ideal way for an animal to find a new home, but that morning, at that moment, it was pretty cool. However, there was still one little guy remaining. He was ash gray and since he apparently wasn’t going home with anyone else, I decided I’d take him…for the time being.
My family already had a kitty and two crazy dogs. We weren’t hurting for another pet. So when I walked through the door with this tiny fur ball, I cautioned everybody not to get too attached because we would be finding him a suitable home for adoption the next week. Well, we didn’t. During that four-day weekend the little guy – we named Loomis – clawed his way into our hearts. He was half the size of our other cat but we were impressed with the way he held his own in the house. The dogs warmed to him too, and he actually took to spooning with our yellow lab Diamond...a little creepy and probably illegal in some states, but nonetheless sort of endearing.
The other thing about Loomis was the affection he showed to us. If he wasn’t napping with our dogs or wrestling with his new stepbrother, he was seeking one of us out, jumping onto our laps and muscling under hands until we had no choice but to pet him. It almost seemed like gratitude. Or maybe he was just sucking up. Either way, it worked. I really liked the little fart, especially his energy. He scaled our Christmas tree so many times we finally had to use twisty-ties to keep the ornaments on the branches. He often lay atop our pool table until his unsuspecting stepbrother would saunter by below, then pounce on him like a miniature jaguar. The two would roll across the floor and could be mistaken for fuzzy tumbleweed.
So it was immediately obvious when Loomis wasn’t his usual feisty self. Tests at the vet’s office showed he had a viral infection, but medication didn’t seem to help and soon, he stopped eating. We brought him back to the vet, who was perplexed and gave us vitamins and more medicine. None of that worked. Loomis grew weaker and less active. I found him on the couch one morning and both dogs and the other cat were lying with him. The dogs weren’t supposed to be on the furniture but that time I gave them a pass. My wife wrapped him in a blanket and held him. I stroked his head and he did his best to purr.
We were set to take him back to the vet that weekend morning in February when we found him. We buried him beneath a small tree in our backyard, feeling terrible and wondering if we had done enough, soon enough. But in a way I’m glad that, if he had to go, it was at our house. Because it was here that he had found a home.
I still wouldn’t call myself a cat person – our other cat looks at me like I’m not fit to clean his litter box, and does it in a way that makes me think he might be right. But I’ll tell you what, little Loomis reminded me of the importance of always keeping an open mind. Because if you do, then you never know what might find its way into your heart. •
Catch Tom on the Pat and Tom Morning Show on New Country 105.1.