On March 5, 2018, my article, Real Men Love Cats, was published here at PolitiChicks. The piece detailed my life-long love for cats and the fact that real men do love cats, unabashedly.
For the purpose of this article, I am writing specifically about our cat Priscilla. She has had quite a few affectionate pet names and has been known variously as the Panda Bandit, my Little Bear, but most consistently has been called Willie.
Willie was part of a litter of an abandoned cat that we fed at our home in Norfolk. Her Mother’s name was Oreo. Willie was part of Oreo’s first litter, which numbered ten. We had been taking care of Oreo since she was an adolescent. In fact, the front porch of our Norfolk home was known by the neighborhood cats as a place to go for a free meal. We jokingly said to Oreo that we would love to have a black and white kitten like her.
In April 2004, while waiting for her own litter to be delivered, Oreo brought us a tiny black and white kitten, with a black teardrop under one eye. We already had four cats: Oliver, Oznog, Smoky and Ophelia. We found, from a neighbor, that this kitten had been running with a Mother raccoon and her pack. These raccoons could be a nuisance to all of our abandoned and feral cats. No casualties in the cat and raccoon interactions, but some close calls.
We named the kitten that Oreo brought to us, Elvis. That was the only name that he responded to.
He was only a few weeks old, at best, his eyes were still the standard kitten blue.
As he grew up, Elvis saw me eating strawberries and seemed to know what they were. He would eat a strawberry like an apple between his tiny paws. He also grew to love watermelon. He would run his paw, over standing water, just like a raccoon. Those early runs with the raccoon pack seemed to have made an imprint on him.
Around May 20 2004, while taking out the weekly trash, several kittens charged me as I was going down the driveway. They were five in number. I found five more, huddling by our basement door. This must be Oreo’s litter, I thought. Where is Oreo? The kittens were probably about 10 days old.
I grabbed a wardrobe box from our basement and placed all ten kittens into the bottom of the box, placing it on our front porch. They were a variety of colors and designs. Oreo, obviously had a lot of suitors. Willie was a little black and white tuxedo kitten. She was almost the runt of the litter. That title was reserved for a somewhat smaller kitten that we eventually called Amy.
After a few minutes, Oreo came running in response to her kitten’s cries. She leaped up and pushed the box down to porch level. All of the kittens came cascading out and immediately ran to their Mother to nurse. Oreo looked up at me as if to say; “See? I knew what I was doing!”
Willie used to sleep outside, with her brothers, sisters and mother, snuggled against a possum. The possum protected the kittens and Oreo from the raccoons. As a tiny kitten, Willie once smacked an adolescent raccoon full in the face and chased him away. Tough little girl.
Eventually, eight of the ten kittens were adopted by the neighborhood children, leaving Willie and her sister, Wolf, outside. By this point, Oreo had become pregnant again.
Willie used to play with our recently adopted cat, Elvis. They would look at each other through our front glass door, mirroring each other’s movements and actions. Elvis desperately wanted Willie inside with us and our other four cats. One day we opened the door and Willie strolled in, never to leave again. Because of a job opportunity, we had started the transition from Norfolk to Charlotte in the Summer of 2004. We made sure that Oreo was adopted and spaded before we left town.
We ended up adopting Willie’s sister Wolf also. Though, initially, Willie and Elvis were the first cats that we brought down to Charlotte from Norfolk. They played relentlessly together, running up and down the stairs.
As we were making the transition, from Norfolk to North Carolina, I was sleeping initially on an inflatable bed. Willie and Elvis, both black and white and tiny, would sleep under each of my armpits. Sometimes they shifted armpits in the course of the night.
Eventually all the cats were reunited. Oliver, our seal point Siamese, came into our new house, hissing at everything. Tiny Willie tapped him on the shoulder and hissed in his face. As if to say, “Dude, lighten up!”
Willie, as a kitten, once knocked a chocolate cake off the downstairs kitchen counter. She got that one taste of chocolate, aspired for another taste and was denied further access. She pursued chocolate, to no avail, for many years. Maybe there is chocolate cake for cats in Heaven? I hope so. It is only common sense that prevents chocolate consumption for cats here on earth.
When I started to play a lot of music gigs around our new home in North Carolina, Willie and the matriarch of the household, Ophelia, would be the only ones waiting up for me. Willie was always looking for a snack. She begged for human food from time to time, her favorite flavors being bacon, chicken and cheese, but not too often.
Willie also has always had a great emotional barometer in terms of reacting to my emotions. She was the first cat that comforted me in the wake of my Mother’s death in March 2018.
Previous to that, in February 2018, Willie’s sister Wolf had to be put down due to congestive heart failure. We were not offered any sensible or affordable treatment options. We were warned that Willie may develop the same issue. Willie, after the deaths of her brothers and sisters, started sleeping on a pillow between my wife and I. In the course of the night she would reach and touch both us in turn. She was the last cat standing by the beginning of 2021
But starting in late winter/early Spring ’21, Willie started diminishing. Tough cat that she was, she kept rallying back. Willie HATED the vet. She became the Tasmanian devil at the sight of a cat carrier. As she was uniformly healthy there was no need, previously, for her to go to the vet in the past. At the beginning of April 2021, she started showing signs of congestive heart failure. I had seen this before. Not only for Wolf, but also how it affected Ophelia.
On April 24, 2021, our little girl passed over to the Rainbow Bridge. She died at home, surrounded by the two people that loved her the best. We laid her to her eternal rest, in a Community Garden, on the 25th. Our hearts remain deeply broken.
Truly a great cat. One of a kind. My buddy, Religious scholar, Author and former Politichicks Contributor, JP Sloane, gave me great comfort in his response to my grief in a comment on one of my Social Media posts:
“Because in heaven a day is a thousand years on earth we know that every year on earth from Heaven’s perspective is approximately a minute forty seconds her time; so she won’t really have time to miss you before you are all together again. Keep your heart and mind in Heavens time. ( 2 Peter 3:8: “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.”)
I look forward to being greeted by all of my beloved cats in Heaven. As stated, Willie was the last cat standing and may remain so. She is surrounded by her sister Wolf and her adopted brothers and sisters, Elvis, Joshua, Oliver, Oznog, Smoky, Ophelia, Tucker and Sid Tiger, among others. In the time of Heaven, it will seem only like a few minutes before we join them again.