This is a late-’80s picture me holding my favorite cat of all times:
(Yes, I remember that sweater.) His name was Nicholas Pennington, but we called him “kitty.” My dad called him “Kitty Lickins’.” He was a huge, white, long-haired cat with coarse hair. You could see some very faint orangish tabby markings on his forehead.
We got him in Van, TX in 1985 or 1986 when a church member called us about a white, friendly cat that took residence in his tree. We drove over in our ’77 Oldsmobile with some kind of food, and he came straight to us. That was a good sign, a friendly, people-oriented cat. He may have wandered away from someone else’s house. We immediately took him to the Van Veterinary Clinic, where the vet pronounced him healthy and about 6 months old.
Did I say he was huge? I think he was around 15 lbs. He loved being held. When I used to type on the computer, he would jump on my lap and lay down, slowly cutting off circulation to my legs. When anyone would read a newspaper on the floor, he would lay down on the paper.
He succumbed to some wasting disease in 1998, probably at 12 or 13 years old. Over the course of about 3 months, he wasted until he was too gaunt to get up. My father, the family Pet Executioner, had him put down that June.
This is Micah holding our other cat:
Her name was Sophia Ludmilla (Russian-themed name since my mother had a Russian pen pal at the time). She was a calico mutt of some sort with patches of nice jet black hair, and she never got all that big. Since the other cat was named “Kitty,” and since this one was small, we called her “Widdy.” I guess that was a “small-ish” name? My dad called her “Widdy Lickins’.”
My mother got her in 1986 or 1987 from a litter of kittens at a house in Groves.
This cat had a weird, schizoid personality: she hid all day long and would only come out at night for certain people. In the above picture, she is spooked because someone is giving her attention during the daytime. I think part of her problem was that she was not well socialized as a kitten. Another problem is Micah and I weren’t particularly nice to her early on. I think we played football with her once in the Groves parsonage living room, with her being the ball. Plus she didn’t take well to Skeeter, our sheltie dog, which we may have encouraged to “play” with the cats from time to time.
When she voluntarily came out, she was extraordinarily affectionate. Female cats give the allusion of affection because of the “presentation” instinct when you rub just in front of their tail, but, I assure you, she was on a different level. She was so happy to get affection–on her terms–that she couldn’t stay still. She walked to and fro while you petted her, wrapped her body around your hand or torso, etc.
There was one exception to her skittishness: she loved my paternal grandfather. She would approach him at almost any time, day or night. All we could guess is he had some scent that pleased her?
She died of the same wasting disease that the other cat got. I think that the family Pet Executioner had her put down shortly after I left for my senior year in fall 1998.