I was reading Squirl’s Blog this morning and a story she posted about her cat reminded me of the cat we had while I was growing up.
Our family had lived in an apartment until I was 10 years old when we moved into our very first house. Up until that time I had shared a room with my little brother. Now I had my own room for the very first time. Until then we had not been allowed any pets beyond many fish and a budgie so right off the bat my brother and I started moaning for a cat or dog.
We went to my aunt and uncle’s for Easter a few weeks after moving. Lo and behold my cousin’s girlfriends’ cat had just had kittens and they had one left. A male Siamese who was one the goofiest things we had ever seen. Of course we got on the phone to my dad who had stayed behind for work and snivelled and begged for this cat. He finally relented and we brought the beast home. I named him Tiko. This cat loved everybody and if you moved your body in any way that created a lap type protuberance he was on it. And then sucking your fingers. He was really weird.
Tiko also had another habit that was very destructive and caused all sorts of trouble in the house. Tiko would eat clothes. Every door had to be shut against him. He could sneak in and devour a sock in 3 minutes flat. Then he would barf it up right where you would step in it on a midnight bathroom run. It was truly gross. That cat ate his way through hundreds of dollars worth of clothing over the years. The vet didn’t know what to do with him. They told us we could pay for thousands of dollars worth of tests and never know why he did what he did. I have heard they now believe it is a need for extra fibre that causes cats to eat strange objects and that it can be fixed through a prescription diet. But at the time nobody had a clue why he did this. One time he snuck into my parent’s closet and ate the cuffs off a dozen sweaters hanging off the rod. My brother and I often found our coat cuffs wrecked after we had only draped them over a chair for a few minutes. We would get into so much trouble but my parents were caught out with their stuff a couple times so nobody could really point fingers. And Tiko would suck that pointed finger anyway. One time he ate the entire collection of stamps my dad had soaked off letters and postcards that were drying on paper towels in the bathroom. My dad was so mad he tossed the cat out the window. I think it was to get him away so he didn’t strangle him. There was a deck right there so he landed with no problems but he was lucky he got off so easy. Nobody messes with my dad’s stamp collection and lives to talk about it. One time he carefully picked all the pantyhose out of my visiting cousin’s closed but not locked suitcase and ate all the cotton crotches. This cat was seriously fucked. But we loved him.
He was totally cross-eyed and would often climb up tall trees or onto the neighbour’s roof and not be able to get down. Then the Siamese howling would commence and not stop until he was rescued. One night my dad had to carry a ladder up to the neighbour’ back deck and rescue the yowling cat at 3am in a rainstorm. We would have left him but the neighbour’s bedroom window was right there. Not to mention the whole neighbourhood being able to hear his racket.
Tiko, despite his faults was really a sweet cat. It had the uncanniest ability to wiggle in between my parents in bed and push them both to the very outside edge. He would climb into bed with me and lay on my back pinning me down so I couldn’t turn over. He would come back for more when my brother would torture him, as young boys are apt to do. Poor Tiko, he just kept coming back for more.
When he was getting on in years he made friends with Teddy, the next-door neighbour’s young chocolate point Siamese. It was like a second childhood for him. We would come home and find them both sleeping on the bed or playing in the garden. One day Teddy disappeared and Tiko was never the same after. The owners think somebody stole Teddy. Poor Tiko never got over it. He seemed to age faster after that.
Once we came home and found that Tiko had stolen a beautiful sheepskin moccasin from the neighbour’s house. He had a bad habit of wandering into other people’s houses around the hood. Everybody loved him so he never learned to stay away. He was so fat even though we watched his food intake like a hawk. Probably he was eating out at fancy houses daily. Anyway, we found this slipper half consumed in our basement. Tiko hurled up colourful bugle beads. Then the neighbour stopped by and asked if we had seen his slipper. Tiko’s reputation was spreading and we were so busted. My mom totally denied it and buried the offending evidence deep into the garbage. She feels guilty to this day. We were all enablers for his terrible habit.
I was long moved out of the house when Tiko collapsed in front of his food bowl one day. We knew he was not going to get better. He was 16 years old at that point. I visited the next day and I couldn’t believe how thin he had become overnight. I felt terrible. He was so cold and I could see his spine poking through his skin. The next day my parents had him put to sleep. I cried like a baby. I am crying now. He was really a lovely cat.