He showed up in a tree in the yard of a rural Missouri farmhouse when he was but a little kitty- boy. He’s a shorthaired, gray, tiger-striped, handsome gentle-cat; hence, his “Mr Cool” alias.
We’ll never know for sure but the vet’s educated guess was that he was then about 8 wks old. He jumped down out of the tree, greeting us with such a conversation, as if to say “Here I am! What took you so long to get home? I’ve been waiting for you!” He was then, and continues to be, a very intelligent, communicative special cat. This is his story.
He was welcomed into a family of two dogs and an older female cat. Well, not quite. He was welcomed by all but the older cat. Unfortunately, she would not let young Stripey anywhere near her. He tried so very hard to get her approval and be her friend; even being totally submissive to her. However, all he heard were her hisses and grumbles. Disappointed but determined not to be left out, the little kitty-boy “hung out” with the dogs who were more than happy to be role models for him.
Stripey enjoyed the farm life and became quite the hunter, often bringing home unusual birds. I am quite the birdwatcher and he seemed to know which ones I hadn’t seen before. Fortunately, he would always drop them when he was asked to let them go. They would be scared but they would fly off. Who knows how many he didn’t bring home because he knew I would want him to drop them. I try not to think about that.
Having a cat door on the farm so the cats could come and go as they pleased led to some interesting happenings, too. If he didn’t know where Ornery (the older cat) was at the time, Stripey would “fly” through the door fearing that she would be waiting to attack on the other side. He did manage the cat door quite well with company, though, as evidenced by his “gifts” to his humans. I came home one day to find a sparrow flying around the house. He also brought in a live rabbit and a live quail. I’m still trying to figure out how he got that large rabbit through that small cat door.
When he brought in the rabbit, it was about 6:00 AM one Saturday morning. I was still asleep but woke up to “thump - thump, thump - thump” downstairs in the kitchen. You can imagine my surprise when I found a wild rabbit hopping around. Don’t fear, I managed to catch all the critters and turn them back out into the countryside; after checking for injuries, of course.
The dogs enjoyed showing him around; teaching him “dog habits”. Toby, the Keeshond, taught him which farmyard grasses were good to eat. Chauncey, the terrier mix, loved to do tricks. So, as he got in the treat line after supper with the dogs, Stripey, too, learned how to “shake”. Even though he is now an only cat, living in a Texas apartment, he still holds that leg up when he wants treats. (Sadly, the dogs and the other cat are all gone now due to old age.)
Even though he has always been a special cat, his “Mr Cool” talents really came to the forefront when he traveled, by car, from Missouri to Florida and then from Florida to Texas. On this, his first trip far away from the farmhouse, he stayed in motels and walked on a leash at rest stops. The only thing he never quite figured out was that the toilets all looked the same no matter where he stayed. He would only look at each one once but would look up to me as if to say, “Isn’t that the same hole the water went down at the last place? I thought we traveled a long way. I just can’t figure that out.”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because he’s now an apartment cat, his hunting instincts have been completely suppressed. He even caught a sparrow from the 2nd floor balcony! For several days prior to the incident, the birds had been flying close to him, giving him “a hard time”. I warned them they were messing with a big-time game hunter but they continued to taunt him. He is only allowed out there when someone is home to watch him so, luckily, I was there to hear the ruckus.
When I heard the birds chattering wildly, I knew he was “up to something”. I saw him as he headed inside with a sparrow headfirst, upside down in his mouth. Its little legs were kicking for all it was worth. Fortunately, Stripey remembered his “drop it” training from the farm and let it go when I asked. It hopped over to a corner huffing and puffing. I put him behind closed doors and scooped up the sparrow (it was a female). Since I didn’t see any injuries, I took her back outside, opened my hands and she flew off. Needless to say, they now tease him from a distance. I assume they passed the word to the other birds. Can you imagine the nightmares that little sparrow had having her head upside down in a cat’s throat? Think of the stories she can tell her “grandbirds”!
About three years ago, Stripey developed diabetes. He’s doing wonderfully well with his treatment of insulin injections twice daily and special diet. He is such a “Mr Cool” for those, too, coming when called and standing perfectly still for his injection. His intelligent little self seems to understand that the treatment is for his well-being.
Aside from his occasional sidetrack into hunter mode, Stripey has become an even more gentle-cat since moving to an apartment. He’s best at schmoozin’ and snoozin’. In fact, one of his favorite “dog habits” is truly enjoying visitors and running to greet them at the door. He even throws himself on their feet so they have to pet him.
He’s 13 yrs old now and I have never again heard him be so vocal as he was that first day. I’ve often thought he just said what he had to say and had no more use for “words”. He communicates in many other ways. One of my favorites is his concentrated gaze from those wonderful green-yellow eyes with his cute head cocked and his very expressive forehead creased right down the middle.
In fact, he just looked at me as if to say, “What are you doing, still up, typing away? Isn’t it bed time?” I told him I was writing his story. He squeezed those handsome eyes saying, “Well, of course you are. What took you so long to do that? But, remember, my Doctor says that a diabetic cat thrives on routine. Let’s go to bed.” So, I will finish...
All his friends value each and every day this very special kitty-boy is in our lives. There will never be another Stripey (alias: “Mr Cool”)! He hopes you enjoyed his story!
Author’s Note: This story was originally published in City + Country Pets Magazine in November, 2000 by Animals 3 friend Barbara. It is now 2009. Stripey passed away in July 2003 but, until the end, his diabetes was under control due, in large part, to his mellow attitude. Unfortunately, he succumbed to mast cell cancer. He had a wonderful life but I still miss him.
Fortunately, I have been blessed with another wonderful tiger cat, Ms Scoots. She was 4 yrs old in a rescue group when she picked me. I am certain that I see a little bit of Stripey in her eyes sometimes. I will write her story one of these days. She’s a little lady who loves to wear jewelry and never does anything wrong. Did you know 10” ladies ankle bracelets make perfect collars?