Fred the Cat
Many people write inspirational or motivational blogs. So I decided to change things up a little bit (with a nod here and there towards WA).
The Story of Fred the Cat
My then wife found Fred (that's what we ultimately decided to name him) In a Bank of America parking lot. This was the same site where, a few months earlier, three people, as best as I can remember, attempted to rob the bank. When the police arrived, a massive gun battle ensued. The robbers were equipped with fully automatic guns and had the police seriously outgunned. The police ended up borrowing some guns from a local gunshop (what does that tell you about America?) and eventually won the day. I remember watching news coverage of this. One of the robbers had been shot and was left bleeding to death in the middle of a nearby road. No one was lifting a finger to help him. Yes, he was a "bad guy", but still was a human being. I had been brought up learning to respect the police and treat them as near demigods. I think this incident was the start of the erosion of my trust in police. But that is a story for another day.
When my wife brought Fred home, it was obvious that he had been living outside for quite a while. He had fleas and worms, which the vet took care of.
Fred was a large orange tabby and very comfortable amongst people. We thought that he belonged to someone and had gotten lost. We took out an ad in the paper on the remote chance that someone would see the ad and claim him, but we heard nothing and so decided to keep him. He still acted like a kitten now and then, so he was young and not fully grown.
I am a cat person, having owned about two dozen cats over the years, so Fred was a welcome addition to the household. I've also owned several dogs. At one point, I owned a Chow Chow named Chaya. These dogs have a reputation of viciousness (good luck getting homeowner's insurance if you own a Chow Chow). Chaya was a real sweetheart, but not very smart as dogs go.
So Just How Smart are Cats?
Lessons Cats Can Teach
Fred was probably the smartest cat I'd ever owned. But he had his quirks. He didn't like people he didn't know. If someone came by, perhaps a repair person or a friend, Fred would run to the bedroom and hide under the bedspread with nothing but his eyes peering out. One time, he ran up the chimney from our fireplace. I looked up the chimney with a flashlight, but there was no sign of Fred. We feared that he had escaped altogether by climbing up the chimney and escaping through the top. So we checked the backyard and looked around the neighborhood to try and find him. But no luck.
A couple of hours later, he emerged from the fireplace, covered from head to tail with soot. I put him in the utility room so he couldn't cover the house with sooty pawprints. He also needed a bath (anyone who has ever had to give a cat a bath knows what an ordeal this can be) But, he managed to clean himself up. We had to clean up all the pawprints from the utility room's floor, but after that, things returned to normal.
Just out of curiosity, I took another look at the inside of the chimney. I discovered a shelf-like construction a few feet up the chimney. I figured that was where Fred had been hiding.
We had a little patio that was accessed by a sliding glass door. Our house had settled over the years. The openings for the windows and doors were not square. If you tried to close a window, there was always a small gap at the top or bottom of the window. Fred took advantage of these gaps. We couldn't latch the sliding glass door because of this. Fred learned how to open the door. You'd think such a door would be too heavy for a cat to open, but Fred proved this wrong. He would open the door a little bit at a time, about a quarter of an inch or so. Eventually, the opening was wide enough, and out he'd go. I used to think that Fred was opening the door slowly so no one would notice, but in reality, he was probably opening the door slowly this way because that was all he could manage. I guess there's a lesson here. Never give up until you reach your goal
We eventually had to put a dowel in the door's ruuner to keep it closed for security reasons. Fred could no longer escape that way, but he did learn how to pop out screens. So any open windows were fair game. By the front door was a louver with square slats made of glass. You could open the slats with a lever on the side. On the outside of the louver was a long screen. If you left the louver open for any reason, Fred had no trouble opening the screen so he could get out.
After a few years, we purchased a small ranch near Palmdale, California. My ex wife worked for a movie studio. I was telecommuting for a company in San Diego and keeping an eye on our two daughters.
There was a mouse in our kitchen that we'd see every once in a while, running for cover under the refrigerator. Fred saw it too. He would wait, sometimes for many hours, in front of the refrigerator. After three days of this, he finally caught the mouse .He presented the body of the mouse, without its head to us as a present. What happened to the head, I'm not sure I want to know. Patience and perseverance can pay off bigtime.
Fred liked to sit in my lap while I worked on the computer. He would climb up my leg or hop up (if my legs were crossed) to reach my lap. One day, he put a claw into a rather delicate part of my anatomy. I couldn't help letting out a very loud yell. From that day forward, Fred would climb up the back of the chair, then over my shoulder to reach my lap. Nobody taught him to do this. He figured it out on his own. The moral here is that there are many ways to solve a problem. Try them all until you find the solution!
Fred liked to sleep at the bottom of our bed. He would wake me up by patting my cheek with all claws sheeved. This usually meant that he needed to use his litter box (which we kept in another room because of the smell) or that he was ready for breakfast.
Fred loved chicken and had no qualms about stealing chicken from your plate. If you were eating chicken and had to leave the table for any reason, you'd need to ask your tablemates to guard your plate. If Fred got lucky with a chunk of chicken, he'd drag it off to someplace he felt safe eating it. Of course, I wouldn't want to eat something that had been dragged across the floor, so we let Fred have his chicken.
The Passing of Fred
Cats don't have heart attacks like people, but they are susceptible to heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy. In one form of the condition, the heart grows and swells to the point where the heart can no longer function. This condition especially is a problem with large cats. I am not a vet, but am pretty sure this is what happened to Fred. I was working at the computer one day and Fred let out a cry and died, almost immediately.
Rest in peace, good buddy.