Cat Stuff

Pilgrim

Tuxedo Cats

Decades before I ever heard the words “tuxedo cat”

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I called them “Pilgrims”. Yes, this was a long time ago, back in the 1960’s. My second cat was a foundling at our front door, about maybe 2 months old. He was black and white, and he just made me think of what we see in our history books of what the original pilgrims wore for clothes. So I named him Pilgrim, Pil for short.

Right from the very start I was his “human”, although he was friendly and loving enough with the rest of the family. He would come to me whenever I called, and usually ignored any body else’s call unless he thought there was food involved.

He would follow me everywhere. If I went for a walk around the block, he would come with me, no collar, no harness, no leash. Always within just a few feet at all times. Neighborhood dogs barking didn’t bother him, maybe he figured I would protect him. He even walked me down the street every morning and waited with me for the school bus. In the afternoon, he was always waiting for me to come back on the bus to escort me home again.

On Sundays, at least once a month, we would all get into the car for a day trip out into the countryside. I don’t remember what I was thinking, but one time I convinced my parents to let Pilgrim come with us. Being in a moving car never did bother him, possibly because I was with him. Although, this might have been the only time he had ever been in a car. My memories are a little fuzzy.

Anyway, back to the story about the Sunday drive. There was one stop we usually made, alongside a limestone cliff where my brother would explore and climb. One time we even found a fossil of a tooth of a pre-historic horse called an Eohippus! This time Little Pil was acting up and I decided that maybe he needed to use a litter box, which of course we didn’t have in the car, so I let him out and away he went exploring. He was so excited about the new surroundings that he completely forgot about his original need. Oh, he was having so much fun chasing bugs and a lizard, and he simply had to stop and smell everything. But even with all this new ground to cover, he still didn’t go much farther away than 20 feet from me, max. When it was time to pack us all back into the car, he became a tad difficult and didn’t come to me when I called the first and second time. I did get a little worried, but eventually he came back to me. He settled himself back onto my lap for the rest of the trip, purring and happy.

Back in those days it was highly unusual to spay or neuter housecats. No body worried about over-population of cats, or dogs, and those surgical operations were only done if their was a health issue of some sort with the animal. Also, cats were indoor/outdoor whenever they pleased. We weren’t concerned about their safety from the real world like we are now. Although at the time I’m pretty sure we did know there were coyotes, we also knew that there were trees and hidey-holes a’plenty.

I don’t rightly remember how old he was when he “realized” he was a male cat. What I do remember is he would disappear for a few days at a time. The first time he wasn’t home in the morning I probably panicked. He wasn’t gone for more than 2 or 3 days, and then he stayed home, all extra-loving for a while. But he was an un-fixed male cat with the need to “be” a male cat. And so he would be gone for weeks, even months at a time. We got used to it, didn’t like it, but said to each other: “It’s a cat thing. He’s out there patrolling his territory.”

He always came back home. Sometimes during his away-times I would see him and call him and he always came to me. He would trot right to me, purring and all lovey-dovey, and then be gone again with his own cat things to attend to. There were times when he came back all scraggly, and one time when he was totally “buffed out” with muscles like some prize-fighter. One time I came home and the whole family was outside trying to coax him to come out from under the car in the driveway. As soon as he saw me, he finally came out and jumped into my arms. He was home again, and safe. That time he had been gone for 3 months, the longest time ever, and we had all decided he was gone for good. He stayed for only about 3 days. I was so sad when he left again. I think I might have thought that he had been home only to say his final goodbye.

He did sire two litters of kittens that I know of, but that’s another story.

 

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