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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Another sweet cat in kitty heaven

Neelix was an orange tabby tom, a muted orange, with green eyes and no white on him anywhere. His belly was the same gold with soft burnt-orange stripes as the rest of him. He had to live with my Mom, because he couldn't stand being in a multi-cat household, so I really only had him for five years though he lived fourteen.

I had a young black cat named B'Elanna at the time I got him, but like to have two cats. When I went into the cat pen at PetSmart, I had my eye on a gray and white cat at the end of the aisle. But as I passed the first cage, a golden paw grabbed my sleeve, and a scratchy little voice said, "Meow." I looked, and the leggy half grown cat stared me in the eyes. He had a tail longer than his body, and it was straight up in the air. I bought him and took him home. He was upset that there was another cat in residence, and she sure wasn't thrilled to see him. I've dealt with that before, and left them to work it out.

That night in bed, B'Elanna was at the foot as usual. Neelix got up and curled himself under my chin.

Three months later, B'Elanna got run over and killed. Her story some other time.

Neelix loved to sit on my lap with his face up in mine, giving me kitty kisses, often with his paws around my neck. Sometimes he'd nibble a button on my shirt. I had to call a halt to that when he broke one! He was very friendly, and I was able to get him to tolerate a harness and leash, though I had to follow where he went rather than leading him.

The most special thing he ever did was at the library branch where I worked as the children's librarian. I did a program on cats, and brought Neelix. I had one little girl in my storytime group who had severe cerebral palsy. She was confined to a motorized wheelchair, unable to control any part of her body, unable to talk, nearly blind. Her mom said she loves cats but is allergic to them. With permission, I put Neelix on her lap. She tried to pet him but pounded on him instead. Neelix didn't flinch, just let her do it. He sat on her lap and touched his nose to her face, giving her kitty kisses for as long as her mom thought it was okay for her to touch him. It gave the little girl such a thrill, and I think that alone earned his place in heaven.

Later I got three kittens at the same time, and he did fine with them until I moved from a 1500 square foot townhouse to a small one-bedroom apartment. Even then, he was adjusting, until the apartment next to mine caught fire and my cats were traumatized. All four survived unhurt, but Neelix started spraying. All over. All the time. So Mom said she'd take him, and he settled into her apartment as only cat.

She enjoyed him, though she's not an animal lover. Her apartment has a tiny fenced back yard, the size of a patio, and she'd let him out on his leash while she watched him to make sure he didn't leave the yard. When he wanted out and she was too busy, he'd back up to something and look like he was going to spray it. Sometimes when he didn't get attention, he'd get up on a cabinet, stare at her until he knew she was watching, and knock off a nick-nack. Other times he'd get a toy and throw it at her. She thought he was very smart. Every night when she took out the trash, she'd clean the litter box. She'd announce, "I'm taking the trash now," and he'd go use the litter box before she cleaned it.

Smart, loving, handsome cat. Rest in peace, Neelix.

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