Cats!

Writers are often owned by cats. In this, I am no exception. And since the Internet at large is approximately 85% cat pictures, it would not do to have a website without a section dedicated to my cats, both past and present.

Cats of Today

Agnes (October 2008-Present)

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Living Room Window, Spring 2010; Photography by the Magnificent Mr. Warlord

Agnes, named for Robert E. Howard’s Dark Agnes de Chastillon, was born in October of 2008 and came to live with me by way of a coworker at Texas State University’s Writing Center, where I was employed at the time.

At the time, neither Mr. Warlord nor I were sure we wanted a second cat, but it was hard indeed to resist her kittenly charms. So Agnes came to stay with us, much to our abiding joy ever since.

The undisputed queen of the house, she maintains an air of aloofness, and when she wants pets and cuddles, she appropriates a convenient human for the purpose. She is not a fan of catnip or the vet, but she adores alcoholic beverages, which must be kept in sight at all times, lest she help herself. In cold weather, she can most often be found keeping court on the Warm-Warm (her electric blanket).

Kane (May 2012-Present)

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Soaking up Sunbeams, Summer 2015

Kane, possibly named for Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane, Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane, or Michael Moorcock’s Kane of Old Mars (take your pick; the jury is still out), came to us in January of 2013, shortly after the loss of Cal.

We wanted to ensure Agnes had company and a playmate, so after we had balmed our grief, we visited a local pet rescue to find her a new companion. Kane (called Crookshanks at the time) immediately captured our attention. The rescue’s best guess was that he was born in May of 2012, as he had come to them very young that summer. Because of a crook in his tail, he’d languished ever since, even though all his littermates had been adopted. “No one wants a broken cat,” we were told.

Well, we wanted him—and he us—and so he came home.

Unfortunately, Agnes has never entirely accepted him (he likes to roughhouse, and she does not), but he has become an energetic and rambunctious fixture around the house. When he is not—quite literally—bouncing off the walls, he can most often be found dangling from a high shelf or basking in the sun.

Cats of Yore

Caliban (July 2000-January 2013)

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Sitting in the Window at Dad’s House, June 2005

My first pet as an adult on my own, Caliban was born in July of 2000 to a pregnant stray taken in by the mother of one of my college friends. I was out of the country at the time, and when asked which of the kittens I might want for myself, I told the friend in question to choose the one that most reminded them of me.

When I returned, I was greeted by a rambunctious ball of white and orange fur with a penchant for getting into trouble. At a loss for a name, I took to calling him Caliban, after both the character from Shakespeare and an NPC I’d created to menace and/or annoy players in my regular Saturday night games.

Cal the cat grew into an affectionate soul with a selectively surly streak. When he loved you, he really loved you. When he didn’t, he found something valuable of yours and peed on it. He chewed on wooden door frames if he didn’t like being shut out of a space. He treated rubber bands like a delicacy and would hunt for them if they were hidden. But if you were sick or upset, he would plop down in your lap and do his best to comfort you—whether you liked it or not.

Off and on throughout the early 2000s, when my living situation did not often allow for pets, Cal stayed with my dad out in southwestern New Mexico, but in 2006, he came back to me to stay. So he remained until his death on January 2nd, 2013, after a brief and devastating struggle with cancer.

I miss him terribly, even now, and probably always will.

Oni (Summer 2003-Fall 2009)

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Exploring Dad’s Place, Fall 2003

Oni (so named because she fought like a devil to survive) was more my dad’s cat than mine, but I include her here because her rescue was my undertaking.

After college, I found myself crashing at my dad’s place in southwestern New Mexico, and for reasons I don’t clearly recall now, I went down to the county animal shelter one late summer day to spend time with the cats.

My attention was drawn to a very small kitten curled up in the back of her cage. Anyone could tell she was sick, and she had lost the use of one eye to a terrible infection. When I asked about her, I discovered that she was likely feral, and had been found under an abandoned mobile home in the company of the corpses of her littermates. I was told she would be put down within the next day because she wasn’t likely to live.

I told the shelter staff I wanted her, then, if they were just going to put her down without giving her a chance.

They told me she was sure to die.

I said we’d see about that.

The staff had so little faith in the kitten that they gave her to me for free.

I was stubborn, so I took her from the shelter directly to the vet, where I paid for an exam and a comprehensive round of antibiotics to treat the abscess on her neck (probably a bite wound) and the systematic infection that was killing her. The vet told me I shouldn’t expect her to live. I spent the next month hand-feeding her pureed chicken and pumping her full of medicine, and, little by little, she improved.

Eventually she was introduced to my dad’s cats, and to Cal, and insinuated herself into their hierarchy. She also took a shine to Dad, so much so that by the end of it, she was really much more his cat than mine. As a result, she stayed with him when Cal came to stay with me.

Oni had health problems her entire life, and she was always very small (four pounds at her heaviest), but for about six years, she fought like hell to live and managed to prove the experts wrong in the process.

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