Musings – Cats and Genealogy

Musings – Cats and Genealogy

I’ve always had cats. My first cat was Buttons. Our second and third cats were another Buttons (because I was a preschooler, and as a preschooler, it made sense to name my next cat Buttons) and his brother Buffy. Buttons #2 was black and white, and Buffy was a buff yellow tabby.

Cats four and five were Taffy and Fluffy. Taffy was a kitten I picked out from a set of kittens that a relative had – we were either on our way to or on our way back from a family reunion in Eden, Indiana, and we stopped at cemeteries and cousin Dr. Kuhn’s house. Or it could have been a Memorial Day trip. I was too young to remember now – probably 6 or 7.

Taffy was a buff yellow colored tabby. My Aunt Janie suggested the name, and it stuck. Aunt Janie picked a good name. I don’t remember where Fluffy came from. She could have been a stray. She was a long haired calico (very fluffy). My mother neither got Taffy neutered nor Fluffy spayed, and soon Taffy and Fluffy had three kittens: Patches, Mistey, and Bandit.

Patches, Mistey, and Bandit were born on 9 August 1974, Aunt Janie’s birthday when I was 8 years old. That’s how I have remembered the exact date all these years.

By late 1978, after quite a few other cats came and went, we were left with Bandit. Bandit was a short-haired tuxedo. He was a great boy. Loving. Sweet. Drooled when he purred while he was getting petted. Everybody liked Bandit.

His eyes were green, tail was long, and belly fur as white as and softer than cotton. He had a very loud meow.

Bandit the tuxedo cat. Taken 26 November 1978. Age 4.

Bandit the tuxedo cat. Taken 26 November 1978. Age 4.

Like many cats, Bandit liked to be right there. If you were reading, he’d want to be in front of the book in your face. If you were doing homework, he’d want to lay on top of it. Specifically, I remember Bandit “helping” me with my genealogy. I had multiple 3-ring binders that contained family progenitors and their descendants. I’d have my lined paper spread out on the kitchen table. I’d look away, look back, and there’d be Bandit, napping. I’d move him. I’d go into the other room and come back. There he’d be again, napping.

Helping. Always helping.

Genealogy would not be genealogy without the help of a cat.

It was a common thing for there to be multiple cats on our kitchen table, but Bandit was particularly good at stretching out and taking over.

Then one day, Bandit got sick.

He had developed kidney disease and was prescribed a special canned food low in protein. But he had lost a lot of weight. He was lethargic. It wasn’t looking good for Bandit. Although Bandit was officially my brother’s cat, he made himself everybody’s cat. My heart was breaking.

I have tried many times to make a terminally ill animal better through force feeding and fluids. I have only been successful once.

Bandit was my first try at that. I liquified his canned food and a vitamin mixture prescribed by the vet, and held him down to syringe feed him. For weeks I did this. At first, he resisted, but soon he got the point. I was in charge, and after all, he was hungry.

Then one day, he began eating on his own.

Bandit recovered. He was the one – the one who made it. He recovered from that kidney disease and lived another year and a half, until he was over 15 years old. Another year and a half of laying on homework and genealogy and laps. Another year and a half of drooling on you and kneading you and loudly purring in your ear.

Another year and a half of Bandit.

It was the best year and a half.

And he was the best cat.

 

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