The day Oliver was born I was giving my coworker a ride home. Louisa got the call from her boyfriend when we were about half there. Selena, their cat, was having here second batch of kittens. My foot found a little lead somewhere in the depths. I hadn't seen a live birth since I worked at the horse farm and helped in the birthing of a beautiful black foal with white stockings. I couldn't wait to see the brand new kittens.
Selena had four kittens beside her when we walked in. By all
accounts, we thought she was done having them. Then, her stomach ceased and we knew there was another on the way. The four beside her were all black and white kittens, beautiful and innocent. When the fifth kitten was born, I saw that beautiful orange head and knew instantly that this was MY cat, come Hell or high water. There he was, just beautiful. It was love at first sight. We didn't know until later that he was the only boy in the litter.
"Louisa," I asked, "where is the father?"
"That's a long story." I waited patiently, wanting to hear the story, long or not. "Selena had kittens before. We couldn't find homes for any of them, and they were already 9 months old when we took them to the pound. Selena was pregnant again by that time, but she hadn't been outside at all. We think Troublewas the one who got her pregnant. But the father of Trouble is probably some stray outside. We aren't sure. She got out one day and when she got back she was pregnant."
"Her own kitten got her pregnant? These cats are inbred?"
"I'm afraid so," she admitted. "Does that make you change your mind?"
"No," I smiled. "You know you can't take it back when you've already named the pet."
"You already named him?"
"Yeah... Oliver, from the cat in the Disney movie 'Oliver and Company'. What do you think?"
"It's cute! I can call him the Oli-nator!"
By the time I picked up Oliver 5 weeks later, she had also been calling him Olie Olie Oxen Free. I wasn't wild about either nickname. I knew the second he was born that I wanted to call him my Ollie cat, born of a pet and an Alley cat. Ollie could be short for Oliver or Olivia. As with all pets though, he eventually decided on his own nickname.
His nickname turned out to be none other than "Cat", nicknamed for the orange cat in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's". He also ended up with the nickname "Boo Boo" due to his confusing family history.
He wasn't much company for the first few months I had him, but I will be the first to admit I'd never seen anything more adorable. He fell asleep standing up, laying on his back with his feet up in the air, laying across my feet, leaning against my chest, and curled up in the magazine rack. He played when he wasn't sleeping, and he kept us very entertained. Still, the thought of his being inbred did cause some fear within me. I needn't have worried. It only made him more special.
Days and weeks went by. He kept us so entertained! I was in a struggling relationship at the time where I didn't feel I was getting the love or affection I needed. Oliver somehow managed to fill that void. I took tons of pictures of him in those first few weeks. I couldn't help it, I had fallen completely in love with this little bundle of joy. He was my pride and joy when I had little else to look forward to.
At six months old, we had him neutered and declawed. The poor little guy had the hardest time with two casts, several stitches and a cone on his head. The first day he came home, he fell asleep on my stomach and didn't move for the rest of the day and all of the night. Occasionally I would have to check on him to make sure he was still breathing.
When Pete and I split up, it was only a couple of weeks after he turned a year old. I bundled my poor little guy up in my fathers truck, and we drove 800 miles from Los Angeles to northern Utah, and with a little protesting in the first few hours, he finally calmed down and slept the rest of the trip. His bed sat on the center console between my father and myself. When he got restless, he would just climb into one of our laps and watch out the window.
Two months later when I decided it was time to go home to California, the bed wouldn't hold him any longer. Driving a stick shift car back down over 800 miles, my lovely little redheaded cat sat only in my lap. Half way down when I was robbed of my uhaul and everything I ever owned, my little Boo Boo was safe and sound in my arms. Even that was pure luck. The hotel wouldn't let cats inside, so I smuggled him in hiding in a duffle bag. I was never so glad at having broken rules before that moment I discovered my uhaul was gone and my Ollie was sitting safe and warm in my arms.
He's been with me through many trials and much turbulence, and yet he's held fast to me. He's managed to move 4 times in a year, survived more than 1,400 miles on the road , and learned just recently how to climb a very thin ladder with no front claws on his feet. He's developed some rather odd habits, including the habit of fuzzing out his tail like a pipe cleaner whenever someone points at him. He doesn't go crazy like some other cat's I've known if you hold him on his back, and in fact he seems to enjoy it. He takes baths, including sometimes I'm not aware of if I don't watch him closely. He would climb into the bath as soon as I got out sometimes and really frighten me half to death. He can't swim!
He's all I have for a reminder of a previous life. Sometimes he's frustrating and I don't know exactly what to do with him, but then there are times when all he has to do is nuzzle me with his little orange and white cheek, and my heart melts.
I've never been much of a cat person. I've had dogs all my youth. I wasn't sure what to do with a cat. I don't know if it's his inbreeding that's made him so unique or the fact that I raised him like I would a dog, but everyone who meets him tells me that he's incredibly unique. I'm still not wild about cats, but my little guy isn't really a cat at all. He's a half breed monkey boy and dog mix. He's part cowardly lion and part brainy scarecrow. He's my pathway home, he's my reminder of where I come from, and he's the reason I keep fighting to make a better life for us.
He needs me... and likewise, I need him.
He's my much needed source of unconditional love.