Tuesday, December 6, 2011


By Rob Watson

If you have not read my blog on Dusty, you should go back and read it. Dusty was my first cat and his story leads into this one. Some of Sandy's story is there as well.

After Wife and I decided Dusty needed a companion, she took up the search... for all of a half hour. She had gone to the vet for some reason and came into the our gun store with an expression that can only be described as hopeful expectation. She informed me she had found a really cute kitten at the vet and wanted my permission to get it. Even if her face had not shown she had fallen in love with this kitten, I would have approved.

Sandy was one of three kittens who's mother had been run over by a car. The vet had taken the kittens in at an early age and given one to each of his employees to nurse. It seems that mother cats have to lick their kittens to get them to urinate. The nurses simulated this by washing the kittens with a damp rag. I think this is the reason Sandy always had a strong attraction to water and the sound of running water. He had a life long passion for playing in water and he liked baths.

We often claimed Sandy was part dog. He loved to play fetch and would bring the ball, the soft cotton ball like, cat toys, back to me. I would throw it down the hall again and he would go fetch it and bring it back to me. When he was tired of this game, he would fetch the ball but would stop about four feet away, drop the ball, and lay down.

 If no one was around, he would bat the ball and chase it. He liked to bat it toward our table which had the center support and legs arching down from that. He would, presumably, pretend the table was an obstruction and bat the ball about under the legs. If he accidentally batted the ball away from the table legs, he would immediately bat it back under them.

His other ball game was to place the ball four or five feet away from the couch and bat it toward the couch. He would then race to catch it before it went under the couch. Sandy could frequently be found lying on his side trying to fetch his ball from under the couch. He seemed to never forget where he had lost one of his toys. If I got a cane (a gift for my 50th birthday) and went toward the couch, he would be under foot immediately, trying to help me fish out his property. We bought these balls by the small bag full. There were usually three to six under the couch or other furniture.

One day I had retrieved three balls from under the couch. I threw one down the hall and Sandy fetched it and brought it to me. We did this until he was tired. He dropped the ball out of my reach and lay down. I still had the two balls and decided to see what he would do. "Here, Sandy, fetch the ball." and I waved it in the air where he could see it. I threw the ball. He jumped up and ran after it. He caught it and came trotting back toward me with it in his mouth. About a foot from the first ball, Sandy looked down and saw the first ball. He stopped and got a puzzled look on his face, as if to say, "Where did that come from?" He stood there puzzling over the situation for several seconds, walked up, dropped the second beside the first, and lay down again.

"Here, Sandy, fetch the ball." and I waved it in the air where he could see it. I threw the ball. He jumped up and ran after it. He caught it and came trotting back toward me with it in his mouth. About a foot from the two balls, Sandy looked down and saw the two balls. Again, he got a puzzled look on his face. The "thinking" time was shorter this round. He dropped the third beside the first two and lay down again. End of game. I am sure, had I take a video of this session I would have won the grand prize on America's Funniest Videos.

Sandy was a talker. Wife liked to engage him in conversation. He would answer with soft mews. If Wife were to ask "Sandy, do you want a treat?" he would answer "Yes." If Wife asked "Sandy, have you had your treats yet?" He would answer "No." (even if it was a bold face lie).

In each of the houses we had while Sandy was with us, we would place a knick knack cabinet near the kitchen door. It formed a small corner with the wall. This became Sandy's favorite place to sit (upright) when he was not napping somewhere. He was out of the way and in the center of any activity. If you look at his portrait above, You will see his corner in our home at the time. His other favorite spot was on top of the back of the couch, in the sun. ( or on the bed, or beside the fireplace, or inside any box we happened to leave on the floor).

Wife and I would retire to the bed about 9pm each night. We would read books to relax and unwind before going to sleep. The boys would join us on the bed. After a bit, Sandy and Dusty would start to groom themselves and each other. This always lead to a fight ( kitty karate ) then they would jump down and commence a wild chase around the house.

One day Sandy began walking around with a serious limp. We took him to the vet, who gave him a cortisone shot, saying he had probably pulled a muscle or strained a tendon. We should have looked more carefully and saved our money. The house had an Earth Stove, a freestanding wood burning stove for heating the house. The cat had apparently jumped up on that stove while we had a fire going. The bottoms of his feet were burned. Sometimes Sandy appeared to be a slow learner. He never did that again.

Few things irritated Sandy more than a closed door. If I was in a room (think bathroom) with a closed door he would sit beside that door and mew until I (finished) opened it. Once inside (think office/computer room) he would lay down for a minute or so then go to the door and mew until I let him out. Goes in, goes out, repeat.

When Sandy felt he was not getting the attention he needed he would follow one of us around everywhere, mewing every third step, until he was picked up and patted. More often than not, we had to find a chair and sit and pat the cat until he was tired of it, then jumped down to work the other items on his agenda. It was not unusual for this to draw Dusty's attention and you had two cats to pat.

Sandy always had extra long whiskers, even as a kitten. During his first winter, when we took him somewhere, I would put him inside my coat to keep him warm. At the vet, we were commenting on how long his whisker were. When I opened my coat, all his whiskers on one side were shortened to about a half an inch. When I had zipped up my coat I must have broken off all those whiskers.

A bird flew down the chimney of the earth stove. It could not get out and made a racket trying. Both cats took an interest. I could not figure out how to help the bird. I knew if I opened the stove door the bird would just fly around the house forever. I thought, in the end I would try to chase it outside. When I opened the stove the bird made a flying dash for the bedroom. His flight path, three feet off the floor took him close to where Sandy was standing. With a step and a flying leap Sandy snagged that bird right out of the air, in his mouth. It had to be pure instinct. Sandy had never seen a bird up close and none of our other games involved his catching things in the air. I took the unharmed bird from him and released it outside.

While remodeling one house, part of the ceiling was removed, leaving the insulation bats exposed. All of the wall coverings in the living room had been removed leaving only the studs and insulation exposed. As I worked in the living room I heard some scratching on the ceiling insulation then a "plop, plop" sound. I was working on a ladder and was about to climb down to investigate when all was revealed.

To picture this, you should recall those motorcycle shows where motorcycles go round and round inside a cylindrical room with vertical walls... got the picture? Enter two squirrels chased by Sandy. The squirrels ran around the walls about three feet from the floor with Sandy close behind. The combination made three complete circuits of the living room and exited into the kitchen.

I was first paralyzed by astonishment, then fully disabled by laughter... maybe you had to be there. Anyway, the squirrels split up in the kitchen. One found a spot on top of the china cabinet. The other sought refuge in the laundry room. By the time I regained control of myself, the situation had become static. Sandy had his eye on the china cabinet, even though the squirrel there was not visible. I went to the laundry room and opened the door and screen door. The squirrel there was obviously the smarter because he exited as soon as the way was clear. The varmint on the china cabinet had to be forcibly dislodged, then with encouragement provided by my faithful pet, took his exit as well. Dusty closely supervised the entire operation.

If you have not discerned Sandy's character by now, the following should help. Wife and I went on an extended trip. We thought it best to leave the cats at the vet's. we requested they place the boys in the same cage as they were close companions. We thought Sandy would raise a ruckus otherwise. All is revealed when we returned.

Sandy was not happy with the accommodations. Apparently, he hollered continuously with the various attempts at resolution until he and Dusty were given exclusive use of one of the examining rooms.  While there he/they redistributed the entire contents of the container of cotton balls.

Sandy Helping "Old Dad" research the mountain property.

This makes a happy ending, so I will leave it here.

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