June 27, 2016
I was around ten when my parents got a cat. He was a Siamese and was quickly followed by yet another Siamese kitten. They were really my mother's cats. They tolerated everyone else, but they loved her. She fed them. Cats are like that. They tend to enjoy easy eating.
Over the years I've have several cats. Some were strays. Some were rescued barn cats. One was a kitten I got from the SPCA, and one a kitten I got through a friend. Shooter was a rescue, of sorts, albeit a very unplanned one.
One June day in 2003, the custodian where I work came into my office and said "we have a problem." Being the office manager, all problems land on my desk so I wasn't particularly excited or upset by his declaration. I dutifully followed him outside and he scooped up this little black and white kitten.
"What are we going to do?" he asked. "He'll get killed on the street."
I replied the only way I could. "Give him to me, find a box, and I guess I have cat. I'm taking him home."
I never regretted bringing the little munchkin home. He grew into a beautiful tuxedo cat with an attitude to match his good looks. Best of all, he was my cat. If he wanted human attention, he wanted it from me. Many times I had to stop writing and talk to Shooter, as the photo attests. I finally had a cat I could honestly say belonged to me - by his choice.
Did I worry at first? Jett was only about a year old, and very energetic as Labs can be. Would he hurt a kitten? Nope. What he did was pick the kitten up by the head and carry him around. The poor kitten! To have his head suddenly enveloped by dog slobber! I don't know how many times I had to tell Jett to "spit him out!" The kitten was never injured, and strangely enough, he never clawed the dog.
They developed a language all their own and became the best of friends.
When I needed a cover model for A Cat Named Hercules, Shooter fit the bill. Not only that, much of the cat's antics in the story come straight from Shooter's life. He was quite a character.
In 2015, when Jett died, Shooter mourned his buddy, actively searching the house and yard for "his" dog. It was after Jett left us that I noticed Shooter suddenly seemed old. His interest in many things waned. He took over Jett's spot beside my desk and slept there. I wondered if Jett's scent lingered in the rug.
Earlier this year, we brought Deuce home and hoped Shooter would accept him. I don't think he did, not really. He tolerated the puppy, but this dog isn't Jett. I watched Shooter slide even further away from me. Instead of sleeping beside me, he selected a dark corner behind a chair. It was there he preferred to spend his days.
Last week, something happened. Suddenly the cat couldn't make the jump into the front window to sun himself. He refused to eat, even his kitty treats. He didn't want to be petted, even by me. Then he vanished for several days.
We thought he was gone, but today he came home. One look and I knew it was time to take him for one last journey.
This evening we buried him on the hill, beside Jett. They spent twelve years together in this life as best friends. We thought it fitting they be together forever.