Thursday, May 27, 2010

Puma, and Grady

In April, we said goodbye to our boy cat Puma. I'm not sure if I wrote about it at the time, other than on FB. We were pretty shook up because it was unexpected, and because he was awesome. It was hard to talk about it - we loved him so much!

We adopted him and his buddy Dora in January of 2001 from the Seal Beach Animal Shelter. My kitty Izzy (a big fluffy black and white cat, whose facial markings made it look like she had an eyepatch instead of a full on mask) died soon after we moved into our house in Long Beach. It wasn't right, living there with no pet, and though I knew I wouldn't be able to "replace" Izzy, after a few weeks it was obvious to us that we needed some feline companionship.

When we went to the animal shelter, we specifically told them that we wanted two cats who were friends already. They did a little brainstorming, and after we hung out with all the other kitties for awhile, they brought out Puma and Dora. Those were already their names. They weren't related, as far as the people at the Animal Shelter knew, but they were both black cats with funny tails. Puma's was short and stubby - like a little thumb! Dora's curled up like a pig's tail that she winds around in a circle. They both were extremely friendly with us at the shelter, which is funny, because though Puma was an extremely gregarious cat, Dora is much more of a scaredy-cat now than she was then.

So we knew we had our cats.

They both had their little personalities, and were definitely friends. Sure, once in awhile Puma would make some misguided attempt to hump Dora, and sometimes they lashed out at each other more aggressively than usual (that first night we had them at home we barely slept - the sound of the two of them running up and down the hall on the wood floor kept us up for awhile! Thump thump thump thump!), but coming home to find the two of them cuddled up together on the couch or in their fluffy beds on top of the TV confirmed that they would be friends forever. When Franny joined us a few years ago, Puma and Dora both accepted her, though her slightly bossy nature and kitten playfulness I'm sure annoyed them at times.

When I'd lived at home, Izzy had been allowed to go outside, but once we moved to Long Beach, I didn't want to worry about her getting lost, so she became an inside cat. I don't remember that she minded that much, and she didn't try to go out. Puma and Dora were inside cats too, for the most part. Dora did get out once and escaped into the neighbor's yard, and once a long time ago, Puma (with his excellent negotiating skills) convinced our friend Chris to let him out. We didn't notice until we were looking out the living room windows into the back yard and saw him cruising by, cool as a cucumber. We knew that if Franny got out she'd take off and frankly, as much as I love her, I'm not sure she has the smarts to find home again.

Last year, Patrick started letting Puma out on chaperoned outings into the backyard, and he (Puma) loved it. He would race out the back door, and head straight for the far wall separating our house from the one behind it. Then he'd make a sharp right turn behind the garage, fly through the dirt and dust and lawnmowers that are back there, and race along the other side of the garage until he came out to the driveway in front of the garage, where he'd collapse in a heap and roll around on the cement. Our backyard is pretty secure, so we weren't afraid of him getting out, and though we've seen the neighborhood cats jump from the grass to the tops of the fences and walls separating our yard from the neighbors', Puma never once even attempted to get out that way. Maybe he didn't think he could make it, but I think he just wasn't interested in whatever was on the other side of those walls. He loved his moments of freedom outside so much, and would bask in the sun for hours while Patrick puttered around the yard or I read on the swing. He was trustworthy - he never tried to get out the front or kitchen door into the front yard, and he almost always came when we called him, if he'd gotten out of our sight.

Puma had a funny little-old-man way about him, and our nicknames for him reflected that - SeƱor Baggy Pants was my favorite. The fur on his long back legs reminded me of a pair of droopy old black corduroy trousers. He also had such wise and calm old eyes, and he was so tolerant! He would patiently put up with any kind of behavior and allowed almost anything (except for one famous incident where I was playing with him and he somehow managed to pierce my nostril with his toenail! I still think it was an accident). I enjoyed picking him up and carrying him around the house like a bag of potatoes. I called him at those times my "big black baby." His fur was so thick and and in the sun it sometimes looked brown. I called it his "gorilla suit." Patrick always said that he most reminded him of the actor Whitman Mayo, as the character "Grady" on "Sanford and Son," and we called him that, too.

Last night we were watching "Sanford and Son" while eating dinner, and it was the episode where Fred has gone to St. Louis, leaving Grady in charge (I read on Wikipedia that Redd Foxx had walked out on the show because of contract disputes). So much Grady! and yes, as silly as it sounds, looking at Whitman Mayo's kind and funny face, we did see Puma looking out at us from the TV. It was sweet, and a little sad.

I miss him!

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