On Monday, January 17th, my husband and I will say goodbye to our 17 year old cat The Kid.
I hope you will forgive an old crazy cat lady, trying to get by and grieve our truly first pet my husband and I got together. I’d like to share some Kiddy stories (that’s K-I-D-D-Y) and invite you to share some of your stories, too. And honor beloved Betty White for her 100th birthday on January 17th—share our love for animals and wanting to make a better world for all of them.
I knew The Kid was special the day I brought him home. I was an animal care specialist at a major zoological park, and there were feral cats on grounds. When one cat had kittens, the vet team found the youngsters, and basically conned a bunch of suckers on the animal care team to each take one of the cats home. The kittens were actually around 4-5 months old, but still cute as could be, small, and full of kitten-energy. I picked an adorable white and orange cat. I mean, they were all freaking adorable, but that orange and white one just kind of cocked his head to the side and I melted.
It was my Friday (which in zookeeper speak means it might have been Wednesday or Sunday), so the beginning of my weekend. I put the new bundle of joy in a carrier and took him home. When I got home with a new cat, my husband stomped in frustration. I MAY have had a small zoo by this point—rats, gerbils, fish, and an older (incredibly bitchy) cat named Winnie.
“NO! Absolutely not!” Chris exclaimed.
“But look at him, he’s so cute!”
“He’s gorgeous,” Chris admitted. “But we aren’t keeping him. You are taking him back on your Monday.”
I had two and a half days to change Chris’ mind. Luckily, I really had chosen the right cat. It only took about 8 hours.
That night, as Chris and I got into bed, the little kitten bounded up onto the bed and instantly curled up on Chris’ chest. I knew right there this was our cat, but I held my tongue The next morning however, the little cat one upped himself. Somehow overnight, the young cat had crawled under the covers between Chris and me, laid on his back, and stretched out. His front paws were curled around the covers. I have no idea how he knew imitating a human sleeping in bed would melt our hearts, but it was pretty much game over for Chris’ plan. As the kitten lay in the bed like a furry little doll, lying on his back and with the covers tucked under his hands, I looked over and smiled. That cat was going NOWHERE!
Two days later, on my Monday, I called my husband’s bluff, just to make sure. I got the carrier the vets had loaned me and picked up the cat.
“What are you doing?” chris asked as I carried him out of the room.
“Taking the cat back, like you said.”
“OVER MY DEAD BODY,” Chris said.
That was more than 17 years ago. The little bundle of joy I brought home from work has moved to Louisiana, South Carolina, all the way across the country to Washington and moved 6 more times around the northwest as Chris and I explored and tried new locations. He is our only pet to have lived in every home with the two of us. And now, he’s our only animal in our lives. Chris and I have ALWAYS had a cat as long as we’ve been married. Losing our little Kid is an end of an era…but he certainly won’t be our last cat.
And he was such a great little Kid. That was his name—The Kid. We finally named him after his first vet appointment. We had had him for a little over a month, so I took him in for his shots, and to schedule his neuter-surgery.
When I walked into the vet office, I filled out the paperwork. I stalled on the name of the pet. Oh, no. We hadn’t actually named him. We hadn’t even really discussed names. Chris and I just kept referring to him as The Kid. There was Winnie, the older bitchy cat, and there was the Kid, the sweeter, younger cat. He was the Kid.
“What’s your cat’s name?” asked the vet.
I was quiet for a moment, and then replied “The Kid?”
And that was that. Of course, calling him the Kid didn’t work when talking TO him. We called him Kiddy, with “d” instead of “t”. We joked that his full name was “better than a kid”. Who needs children when you have a cat who showers you with so much affection and adoration?
The Kid turned out to be a whole lotta cat, too. At 16 pounds, he was a chunk-a-lunk. But honestly, there’s just no way you could fit that much love into a smaller package.
Chris and I had many happy and hilarious memories with The Kid and Winnie. Winnie was so very different from The Kid. She was a long-haired tortoise shell with dark colors and a better-than-thou personality. She was beautiful and she knew it.
The Kid was her exact opposite. He was light colored, and wanted nothing more than your love and affection.
Kiddy was very curious. But one thing he didn’t like was plastic bags. One day Chris and I were watching a movie, and in the distance we heard a sporadic rustling noise. We couldn’t really figure out what it was, so ignored it. It continued for a minute and then got louder and louder. Finally the Kid burst into the office, panicked and running as fast as he could. Around his neck, like a superhero cape, was a white plastic bag. The rustling terrified him, but what really did him in was not being able to get away from the holy terror. We caught him up, removed the bag, and saved the day. Crisis averted. Or so we thought.
Several months later, Chris and I were eating Chinese takeout, which they gave to us in a plastic bag. We were sitting at the table, and the Kid came along and started playing with the plastic bag on the floor. Chris and I laughed as he batted the bag and rolled around, but suddenly he stopped in his tracks, his eyes wide.
His head popped up…right through the handles of the plastic bag.
“Oh, no,” I cried.
In an instant, Kiddie took off, once again with the terrible rustling monster chasing him, and not being able to escape.
We finally cornered the terrified cat, removed the cause of angst, and saved the day again.
The Kid never again TOUCHED a plastic bag. He hated all plastic bags, even the slightest crinkle would cause his eyes to widen, and he’d slink away to hide under the covers.
So Much Love
The Kid brought Chris and I so much joy. We were actually able to train him and practiced many fun behaviors such as “attention”, “Hi-Five”, and even “Jump”. Because of his intelligence and absolutely adorably sweet nature, there were not many people who didn’t love him.
Once, when we went on a vacation, I asked my only friend I had in the area at the time to look after him. She agreed, but admitted, “I’m not a cat person. I don’t like cats.”
I had her come over to meet The Kid. He was a little aloof, but still charming. However, it was when we returned from our vacation that our friend exclaimed, “That cat is a miracle-worker. I seriously do NOT like cats, but I fell in love with this one! He’s such a snuggler, and so sweet.”
We were used to vets, friends, and cat-sitters falling head over heels for our beautiful cats, but it was The Kid who always won their hearts.
In 2015, we had to finally say goodbye to Winnie. She was about 18 years old but never lost her spunk or her feisty nature until the week she died. A few months later, when we felt the time was right, Chris and I picked up Sullivan from the Humane Society. Sullivan was named for the lead character in Monsters Inc, and he was what cat people called “Russian blue”. Being a male cat, my husband and I hoped Sullivan would emulate The Kid’s personality, and we were blessed to have two lovable and snuggly kitties to warm our hearts and keep us entertained.
For five short years, we loved Sullivan and the Kid. They never became BFFs, but they kept each other company. Unfortunately, Sullivan came to us with a long list of undiagnosed health conditions. Through process of elimination, we found that Sully had Irritable Bowel Disease. His special diet and medication made him a bit more susceptible to diabetes, which we then needed to give him insulin and more special food. But it didn’t help, and he got pancreatitis which led to lymphoma. In June of 2021, Sullivan passed away in our home, but because of his illness, he didn’t go as peacefully as we would have hoped.
At the same time we were dealing with Sullivan’s illness, The Kid was starting to show age related decline in his health. We started preparing for Kiddy’s passing, but were taken by surprise when we lost Sullivan. Five years was not nearly enough to share with such a lovable fur-friend like Sully.
By that time, Kiddy now was 17 years old, too old for us to get a new companion, but also old enough to have a strong dependency on us. When we left for our outdoor park workouts and walks, Kiddy would get upset.
Our monthly romps to Mt Baker came to an end so we could spend time with Kiddy. We promised not to go on vacation, or an extended outing until we didn’t have the Kid waiting for us.
Our only Christmas wish this past year was to have The Kid snuggle in our laps as we watched movies. We got our wish, and our last hope to have The Kid in the new year. Kiddy brought in 2022 the way he always did, with love and snuggles.