My Life in Cat Years (told in 9 parts)

Preface: I think only Charles Bukowski would appreciate this poem.

I.

Prince, the Siamese, my first

a gift from my veterinarian uncle. 

Regal, elegant and demanding. 

An asthma diagnosis in kindergarten meant 

Prince became an exclusively 

outdoor cat.

In the middle of the night, 

he packed his bags and left 

in search of a velvet life,

one he coveted and deserved.

II.

Barn Cats…too many to list by name.

There must have been at least 20

roaming the grounds of the old farmhouse

we rented during the transition year.

Most were shy, but I made a few friends.

The mamas taught me how to protect the vulnerable–

grab them by the scruff of their necks

and carry their protesting bodies to safety.

A lesson I tried to put to practice

without much success.

III

Misty, a gray long-hair with lunar eyes

arrived in the city with me 

via my grandfather’s dairy farm.

Not granted indoor status 

because of his dandar and feral nature 

we bonded over

porch cuddles and cat toy games.

A tragic hit and run took his life prematurely.

My first experience with loss and death.

IV.

Next came Evenrude. 

A little calico with a purr as loud as a motorboat.

Neither he nor his brother lasted long.

His brother suffered a fatal Boston terrier attack

and Evenrude disappeared during a winter storm,

his partially frozen body discovered later that spring 

protruding from a melting snowbank.

Despite the pattern of suffering,

I begged my parents for another cat.

V. 

Ginger arrived in 5th grade. 

(He was with me for such a short period of time,

I don’t remember his proper name.)

The sweet feline greeted me after school,

rubbing against my leg and humming frisky purrs.

One morning before school,

I discovered Ginger next to his food bowl in our shed,

stiff as a wood plank and very dead.

That is how I learned about rigor mortis.

VI.

A break in the cat curse arrived in the form of

a fancy, long-haired white cat named Kitty. 

His superpower,

one blue eye and one green eye,

granted him nine lives instead of one.

He was smart and cool, 

and he lived with us for 16 years. 

Maybe my parents feared

longterm trauma 

from so many cat deaths, 

but for whatever reason,

Kitty was invited to sleep in our basement

each night, 

eventually securing

fulltime indoor residency.

22 White Cat Breeds: Complete List with Info & Pictures | Pet Keen

My Life in Cat Years (Parts 7-9) to be continued in tomorrow’s post.

4 thoughts on “My Life in Cat Years (told in 9 parts)

  1. Oh….I love this post. While cats are not my thing, I love learning about the cats that have come and gone from your life. Boy, you have learned hard lessons from all these cats. Can’t wait for the next series of cats!

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  2. This makes me think of the memoir by the author/poet Marge Piercy–she titled it Sleeping With Cats, and the cats she’s had as pets were an important part of this story of her life. I love how you share lessons you learned from the cats. I love this line about Prince, too: “He packed his bags and left /in search of a velvet life,/one he coveted and deserved.” I’ll be looking forward to reading parts 7-9 tomorrow!

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