Monday, October 31, 2011

Cats for Caroline

Caroline, seven years old (and almost eight).  You know the history of the cats from your house, and, like lore masters of old, the history of the cats your mother knew.  You are the keeper of a picture of Boom Boom that we thought is the only picture of him, but today I found an album of pictures of important cats, and one of them is Boom Boom.  And pictures of other cats you know about, but didn’t meet.

Boom Boom

Boom Boom was a gentle old fellow who came to live with us in Mentor, maybe around 1974.  Your Aunt Janice lived with us then, your Mom and your Aunt Shelly and me.  We had two little kitties, a grey one and a black.  The grey kitty ran away from home and the black one cried and cried.  Aunt Janice found another kitty to keep him company.  Even when he was a little kitty he had very large feet to grow into and we called him Boom Boom because we joked he shook the house when he walked.

Your mother’s best friend, Christina lived next door.  Christina’s parents liked dogs and had a poodle.  They did not care for cats.  One day Christina’s father came to see me.  He told me he had gone to the front yard to see why the little dog was making so much noise.  He got there just in time to see Boom Boom jump on a very big rat that was ready to spring on the dog.  Christina’s father ran to get a shovel and it took both the shovel and Boom Boom to dispatch that rat, it was so big.  Christina’s father wanted me to know that Boom Boom was a very brave cat and much appreciated.

Phoebe Snow

Someone found Phoebe Snow and gave her to me.  She was a very little kitten.  We named her Phoebe Snow, which is the name of a blues singer, who took her name from the line of the Phoebe Snow, a coal railroad line in Pennsylvania.  We called her Phoebe Snow because she was a white kitty, but there is an allegory in the story of the singer Phoebe Snow.  You might look it up some day.

One day your mother found Phoebe Snow on our deck and unable to move.  She smelled like kerosene.  We think some really awful boys in the neighborhood poured it on her.  We rushed her straight to our wonderful vet, Dr. Kroh, who said “Well, she’s still breathing.  Let’s see.”  He kept her for weeks.  He reported on her regaining movement from her front feet to her back, a little at a time.  Finally we could take her home.  She was very wobbly at first, but she tried and tried and tried and in the end was just fine.

Otis and Frankie

I called them the incredible two headed cat; they were always together.  Frankie got sick and he died and is buried in the garden in Mentor, but Otis came with me to this house.  Otis’ whole name was Otis Elevator because when he stood up he could reach the second floor.

When Brian boarded with me he would come into the living room after he ate his supper and bring his glass of milk and a double stuff Oreo.  One night Frankie jumped on the arm of the chair, snatched the Oreo and ran off.  “Did you see that!”  Brian was indignant.  “Why are you laughing.  He took my cookie.”  “It’s not the cookie,” I gasped.  I pointed to his other hand where Otis was drinking the milk.


I got Scotty from a co-worker of your mother, who knew I was one cat low after Frankie was gone.  Scotty’s name was Butterscotch, and he was that color.  Scotty had a wry tail.  The tip had been broken before he was born, and his tail never grew longer than when he was a kitten.  The tip of it pointed up at a right angle.

Scotty was very happy here and was our studio cat.  Even though Scotty was a grown up cat when we came here, and Pasha was just a kitten, he took good care of her and taught her how to find mice and chipmunks.  Scotty slept on the top of my bed and Pasha slept at the end.


Pasha was the black and white kitty from next door to Aunt Janice and Great grandma Lytle, before they moved here.  She didn’t exactly live there, she was brought there from the dog pound, together with her mother and litter mates, by a mean man who liked to see what happened to kittens who wandered into the pens of his white German shepherds.  Pasha was the smart little one who led her siblings through the fence, up the back steps at Aunt Jan’s house, through the dog door and up to the dog food, where they filled their tummies.  All the other kittens would run back outside if they were startled, but Pasha would go see what the noise might be.  She came to be on speaking terms with everyone at Aunt Jan’s house.

One day I was at Aunt Jan’s house and Pasha came up to my car to see who I was.  Grandma Lytle picked her up, put her in my car and said “This little one needs to go to the new house.”  And that’s how Pasha came to live here.  She slept at the end of my bed until Scotty was gone; they she moved up and slept where Scotty used to. 


One morning as Aunt Janice and I were leaving to go to a show we could hear a kitten crying.  It said “Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma.”  We looked and looked and finally found it in the field by us.  When we called, Jett ran right up my leg crying “Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma.”  She was so happy to be found.

Jett was your Aunt Jan’s most especially favorite cat.  They talked to each other.  Jett got a very rare kind of cancer and is in the veterinary text books now.  Our vet here, Dr. Mike, was very kind to Jett and kept her happy as long as he could.  When she was too sick, he put her to sleep and now her ashes are in a little wooden box on a special shelf your Aunt Janice has.


There is no picture of Willie.  We found her under a cabbage leaf.  Uncle Tom heard her crying in the middle of the night and went out with a flash light and found her under a cabbage leaf.  Willie lived here a long time.  She was Grandma Lytle’s cat, and she ran to Grandma about everything!  After we didn’t have Grandma any more, Willie just got mean.  Like it was our fault.  She fought with Pasha and put nicks in her ears.  She kept Xenia up a tree for three days and then bit a hole in her tail when Xenia came down.  Willie wanted to be the only cat, and decided she would do that by eating all the cat food so the other cats would starve to death.  We changed all the food to senior citizen obese cat food and Willie still ate it all up.  She got diabetes and she died.  We figured she just wanted to be with Grandma.

Toe Toe and No Toe

I found Toe Toe and No Toe in a pet shop in a mall in Columbus.  They were litter mates put out in front of the store in an open box and all the children in the mall could pick them up and handle them and throw them back.  That made me very sad, so I bought them for far too much money and brought them home.  They were so alike it was hard to tell them apart.  But, Toe Toe had an extra dew claw, and No Toe didn’t. 

When they were about six months old Toe Toe had epileptic seizures.  Gran mal, the vet said.  He prescribed phenobarb, and Toe Toe knew he needed to take his pill every morning.  But one night when the two were out there was a terrible rain storm.  No Toe came home in the morning, but Toe Toe never did.  We looked and looked, but never found him.

No Toe was devastated.  He didn’t know what to do without Toe Toe.  He moped.  He went off for days.  He stood in front of a car and got hit.   Since he didn’t die, like we think he hoped to do, he came home.  He became a lonely cat, and a new cat did not cheer him up.  We got Purrl to play with him, but No Toe would have nothing to do with Purrl.  He would disappear for months.  One day our neighbor solved the mystery.  “Your orange cat lives in my barn a lot.  But the little calico comes up and visits him.”  We swore to No Toe we would not get another cat in his life time, and we didn’t.  And, he came home to live with us until he became an old man and went to be with Toe Toe.

Xena, Warrior Princess

The little calico who visited No Toe.    My friend Ann still lived in Cleveland, but was about to be married and live in Wisconsin.  She was working late at her company, training the person who would take her job when they heard shouting and yelling from out in the factory.  They went to look and found several men, bleeding, with a tiny kitten they were mistreating, just because they could.  The tiny kitten was hissing, scratching and biting.  They tossed the kitten to Ann and said “Here.  She’s worse than Xena.  Take her.”  So, Ann did.  But she was not sure her new husband to be would welcome a cat.  As it turned out, he would have been just OK with it, but she didn’t know it then.  So, Xena came to live with us.  She grew up to be a big, beautiful calico cat with a magnificent tail.  She tried very hard to make No Toe feel like a special cat, and I’m sure she did him a lot of good.  He hung out with her when he did come home.  But she had to go into the big woods when she went to visit No Toe in the barn.  One day she didn’t come back.  When Uncle Tom went looking for her all he found was her magnificent tail.  He buried it right up there by Uncle Skip’s barn.

And so, Caroline, there is your history and lore of all the cats right up to the ones you know now.  Only Kitty and Neighborhood are missing from my story, but they were your mother’s cats, after all.



  1. I do so miss having a cat. They make a house a home.

  2. Oh, what fabulous kitties!!!

    I do love cats. Silly little buggers, and yet so dignified...


  3. Family history drawn through the line of family pets. wonderful!