How does one show proper reverence for the fuzzy Lil Man who gave me utter joy for SEVENTEEN years? Simple. I don’t. But I’ve found (more than) 17 ways to say I love him.
He was a gift from a long-ago love. Delivered in a cardboard box he was quite icky: flea-ridden, with crusty eyes, malnourished and wasn’t all that handsome. “Why THIS cat?” “I knew you could fix him,” he offered. In truth Harley fixed me. It would be two weeks until he was entirely settled and earned his name: Harley. My orange kitty, with bad attitude, and quite a motor.
17. From the beginning he loved cotton socks. Carried rolled-up human-sized socks entirely bigger than he, until I found a suitable feline-sized offering filled with catnip (that’s the 3rd incarnation under his jaw). With sock in mouth, he’d howl like mad, often at all hours. Sometimes he’d just nestle them.
16. I could stare at him for hours. Sometimes he was all the entertainment I hoped for. He’d yawn. He’d sleep. He’d eat. He’d groom himself. I’d watch, falling deeper in love with him with each and every day. It bothers me none that a perception may exist that I’m a crazy cat lady. I was indeed crazy about This Pooh.
15. Early on he earned a snarly reputation at the Vet*. In all our 17 and a half years, there were only 3 who could properly handle him. When I had him declawed (I’ve since learned that’s not so nice), he chewed the glue that kept his perfectly pink pads together. Once healed, they were given innumerable kisses for his whole entire life. He kind of hated that. Later on the wooden floor the ticking of his gnarly back claws announced his every move.
*He actually was quite snarly most of the time, except around me. He was a Mama’s Boy.
14. His Mama was a mover. Most of the time we’d load up the car—Harley in my lap, Peeps in the back—and drive. He was none too happy and would stick to my lap like glue. Twice my well-traveled kitty hopped a plane and cackled obnoxiously underneath the seat in front of us.
13. Like most cats, The Pooh relished nap time. Only mildly inconvenienced when I’d swing by with a smooch, he’d curl right back up onto himself and continue dreaming of crickets. (Long ago there was a cricket epidemic in Ft. Worth and HUNDREDS descended upon our house, he’d chase them all over, pounce, then gorge himself silly. He’d then puke piles of cricket parts. Then do it all over again. Thankfully, it was a short-lived phenomenon and one I can’t now seem to validate.)
12. Harley was easily entertained… when he wanted to be. This snap is from a series of pics taken shortly after he had 8 teeth removed. My little Snaggle-puss. With a hankering for mischief, he nibbled on my necklace.
11. Harley accompanied me to Vegas. Tired of the noisy closed-in city life NY offered, he made regular nests on the always-sunny porch. If I wasn’t looking, he’d hop the table and make a dash towards freedom OR that bush a tiny bird called home. Harley earnestly wanted to taste her.
10. A sunny windowsill, especially when open, was the place he yearned to be. He’d watch for said bird and all the rest, and do that thing cats do, and hope to manage a nibble. My goodness he was a handsome devil. His eyes vacillated between a Chartreuse green and mustard yellow—depending on time of day, sun upon them and his mood.
9. Where The Peeps didn’t much care for grooming, Harley would do ANYTHING to avoid the bath. Always keeping his coat clean, The Licky Boy preened himself and The Peeps, and would wear a hole in me, too, if I let him. He’d sometimes finish giving me a proper licking and come up for air with a smattering of teeny spittle bubbles on his chin.
8. What was mine was his. His Grandma lives overseas and he’d interrupt our regular video-chats by walking between our view from one side of my keyboard to the other. Then back again. Then back, again. If he deemed fit, he’d allow us a chat, by nesting on my desk. If I grabbed a pen he’d hop up and munch on the end, making it impossible to really work.
7. Harley had some good-looking parts and his orange belly was especially entertaining. Sometimes I’d put my head on his side and listen to it work. Pert. Ping. Rrreear. Dek. The noises made me giggle. And his tail—each ring of color separated from the next in coils of furry splendor—made me so happy. Sometimes it needed a tug.
6. Another yawning moment with whiskers curled about his lips, and a close-up of his madly scratchy tongue.
5. My Pooh generally liked to be in my business. Here sitting on the one little soft spot, he desired some heavy petting. And I was all too happy to oblige.
4. My Harley relished his outdoor time. After spending a year sequestered upstairs (along with Peepers and myself) in his Grandparent’s house—which was decidedly larger than our first New York apartment—he was eager to get into Austin’s great outdoors.
3. Quiet time was easily snafued by the presence of AJ. Harley’d puff up and stand his ground and hisssssss. NO body messes with The Dude enjoying his sun. AJ quickly learned walking waaaaay around was always the shorter route.
2. My Boy at rest. His white fuzzy belly beckoned some serious needling. In a temporary nest with his sometimes buddies: Kaluah and AJ, the shape of his ears tells me he’s only “pretending” to rest. He’s actually well-aware he’s sharing a bed, and may need to split in a hurry. But it was a comfy spot.
1. And the number one reason I loved him… he loved me back. He’d often purr at the mere touch of my finger. And sometimes with just a glance.
He was so put out when I scooped him up and hugged him and kissed him and squeezed him and cradled him upside-down… as evidenced by many a grumpy grimace. But he let me anyway. And I did it for seventeen happy years. Thank You Pooh.