His given name was “Morris,” for obvious reasons. He was a green-eyed, yellow, short-hair cat with an attitude.
During more than a decade he owned our home, he was given nicknames. He was anointed “Killer” early on and then later “Butt Ugly.” The two monikers were connected.
He sauntered into our lives one day while my wife was working in her flowerbeds, groaning about how the local feline pride was using her yard as a litter pan. Morris came walking down the fence line just above her head and was greeted with an irate “Shoooo.”
The cat gave her a Robert “You Talkin’ To Me!” De Niro look, jumped down off the fence and started walking across the yard toward me.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
I was admonished next: “Don’t pet him!”
Like Morris, I ignored her. I love animals. He was a stray cat too friendly to ignore.
What followed was tantamount to turning over the deed to your home to Morris. Food, litter boxes, special beds in the house and garage; a cat tree; a multitude of toys, open access to our laps, couches, chairs and beds and on and on.
He was neutered and chipped out of the Madera County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but no owner registered him. We learned that when he tangled up with a car not long after he adopted us. That was the first of many visits to expensive veterinarians. He survived that.
We registered him and thus followed many other vet-lucrative visits. Most were for fighting local cats, one possum and no doubt a squirrel or two. That is where the name “Killer” originated.
He was an indoor/outdoor cat. Our nightly vigil was to roam the neighborhood with flashlights in an evening search for him to enclose him in the garage at night to minimize vet visits. He often hid just out of view, and we know laughingly watched us search for him before sashaying up to us to carry to the garage.
Those vet visits were where he acquired his final moniker, Butt Ugly. Invariably his MMA bouts resulted in an abscess on his rear end, which had to be shaved and opened up and sutured and drained.
Despite all our travails with Morris/Killer/Butt Ugly, he endeared himself to us as a delightful, loving companion who only demanded to be coddled – when he wasn’t fighting. He liked most people and even dogs. Many local dog walkers would have their dogs stop at our house to look for Morris and visit.
Unfortunately, his last fight hastened his demise. He underwent another shaved rear/abcess experience, but never fully recovered. We discovered he was suffering from kidney failure at a far-too-young cat age. Like most pet lovers, we were hesitant to put him down even when it was obvious he would not recover.
We finally did, but I never want to hold another animal when the “shot” is administered.
I doubt The Bee will run this because it would create a landslide of special pet articles. I know that for a fact because many of our friends have a special, one-of-a-kind dog or cat and they would have plenty to write about. However, as a retired journalist, I wanted to write it anyway as therapy to get past a very sad time.
I also wanted to recognize all of us who have those special rescue critters. They are a joy, and I am so grateful for the many rescue animal lovers and organizations there are today. There will be another special companion around this home in the future, and it will be a rescue pet. Just not right away. Miss Butt Ugly too much.
Harry Cline, a 40-year Fresnan, is a lifelong writer. During his journalism career, he worked for daily newspapers in Texas and Arizona, and he was the first editor of Western Farm Press.