Friday, September 12, 2008


Onyx was my first ever pet that was solely mine. After my dad passed away, I knew I would be traveling a lot to our family farm, which was six hours away, and wanted company on the drive. A dog was out of the question, since I was staying with my mom at the time, so I decided to get a kitten. In all honesty, I was also looking for comfort, and felt the love a pet would bring would be perfect for me. Two weeks after my dad passed, I was at the local SPCA. I saw several kittens I thought were cute, but didn't pick one. There were too many! So, I decided to come back the next day with my mom and make my final choice.

One of my main criterion was that the cat not be black. We had already had black cats, and had had a bad experience with one (she died in the dryer...). I really wanted a grey cat, and when started looking at the cats, I ignored the black one in the corner. I showed my mom the grey one I had been looking at the day before, and she told me it wasn't active enough (it was cats do). She pointed me in the direction of a little black kitten that was up and about. He was putting his paws through the cage door, and the second we got him out he started purring. Before I knew it, I was walking out the door with the black kitten I had said I wouldn't be getting.

Little did we know what we had gotten into. Onyx was an amazing companion for my travels. He traveled extremely well and never gave me trouble. He was however, described by my cousin as an "imp" and I had to agree with her. He was into everything. But I could never get mad at him...who could get mad at such a cute little guy?

I eventually had to move back to school, and I left Onyx with my mom for the time being. She called and updated me on him often, and eventually we were reunited. Oh, how he had grown. He continued to grow and grow. And he developed some of the funniest personality traits. Onyx loves to lay in the sink. The first time B saw him in the sink he didn't know what to think. Needless to say, even though it is cute, it can get annoying to have to throw a 15 pound cat out of the sink every time you need to brush your teeth/wash your hands, etc. He has taught this habit to pretty much every cat that has entered the household since. Onyx also loves to drink out of the sink, and will tip the water dish over so he can get sink water. :)

Onyx loves to be up high. When he was still a small kitten, he one time jumped to the top of the door. He actually balanced up there. He then proceeded to look at me like, what do I do now that I am up here? He now jumps to places where he can actually lay down, and is commonly found on the top of our refrigerator. Everytime someone new comes into our home and he is there we hear the same thing: "That cat is on the refrigerator!" It makes us smile. He rules the roost and he knows it.

Onyx doesn't play that much anymore, now that he is no longer a kitten. But at one point he would fetch little mice. I'd thrown them far, and he'd run back to me and drop them so I'd throw again. And while he doesn't do that anymore, he has made sure that he still gives me a hard time. I can't have anything on my tables or surfaces, or he will knock it off and watch it fall. He always pats it down, watches it fall, and then looks at me. I've learned. :)

One thing that has remained constant about him is that he is a lover. He loves to be with his people and get attention. His favorite thing to do is lay on his mom's chest and headbutt her chin so he can get attention. 15 pounds of cat on my chest is not necessarily fun! He will sleep anywhere near my head and when he is hungry will bug you until you feed him! Unlike so many people's perception of cats, Onyx is not anti-social, and loves love. He has to be in the same room as people are, and will make sure you know he is there!

Onyx has seen several animals come and go in his four years with me (four years in two and a half weeks!). Through all of them he has been accepting and not a hissy, mean cat like so many others I've seen. He's taught them good and bad habits, but he's always made them feel welcome. He's a good boy, and I am beyond grateful my mom insisted I give the little black kitty a chance (and as you will see from my future animal profiles, the black has become a strong theme). We no longer take our long trips, and he doesn't ride as well now that we have stopped, but he will always be my boy and my baby.

I don't have any pictures of him on the fridge or in the sink on my laptop, and my desktop isn't hooked up yet, so I'll include one of the more recent pictures of him...he isn't quite happy, we were forcing him to pose! But it accurately shows how huge he has gotten!

And that is my Onyx.


Blue said...

okay, your cutehead just reminded me of my MIL's cat, Teela. She WAS a terrific cat...even non-cat folk could admit that. But she died last week after a long life. Tell me if the obit my MIL wrote about her isn't THE best cat obit ever written in the history of felines?!

September 3, 2008

Yesterday, Teela, our 'littlest house hold member" left. We aren't sure how old Teela was; maybe around 16 or 17, maybe more. In cat years that's pretty old! Thus far she has lived longer than any of our animal friends. She stopped eating almost three weeks ago. The last two weeks were spent resting on a pile of towels in our bathroom, where she could easily have access to water, regular towel changes and frequent pets. As her time approached, in the wee hours of the morning, she called with a soft moan. (The only time) I came and touched her. A soft 'meow' said, "I'm still in here, but it's getting hard to move to let you know." She became very peaceful as we chatted. She got lots of pets; thank you's and loves. Later in the day, I could tell she could still recognize company. No longer able to lift or move her head, or open her eyes, her shallow breathing would deepen and accelerate, when being petted. An occasional twitch reflex in the front feet reminded me of her tendency to knead my lap to express pleasure. Even at this time, she remained social.

She taught me lots. She was the most sacrificing animal mother I have ever known. Many hours after giving birth to eight kittens, in a stall with five wild sheep at my friend's barn, she remained steadfastly in her box nursing her kittens, even when a bowl of food was placed in front of her box. As the bowl was placed under her chin, she hungrily wolfed the food until it was gone, then looked up as if to politely request more, before slipping back exhausted. That was the moment I knew she and her little family could come home with me. Arrangements were made. She took up residence in our garage. Teela got all she could eat, and was still shockingly thin. Her little voraciously brood nursed until they became round balls of fur. The vet said he had never known a cat to nurse eight kittens to weaning. "Sometimes they will kill the runt out right, or just let them starve." Tommy, her 'runt' became a big Gray Striper Cat with a lovely shiny coat.

In all her years as a house cat, she never stuck a claw in furniture! Never a scratch. She selected and used a large piece of driftwood to keep up her pedicure. Until I started my masters program, she lived in the house without a cat box. She would come, make eye contact, sit near my feet or stand by the door, telling me she needed to go out. Never a mess. Ever. A cat box was set up so others wouldn't miss her subtle cues.

She controlled the house in her own quiet way. Cat Rules 101 sent one older Schnauzer, and two young Dalmatians scooting . . with a look! She taught three dogs excellent cat manners.

She was known by my primary class as 'Righteous Cat.' When encouraging scripture study, I told the children of her faithful attendance at nightly scripture study. She came to our bedroom each night when I read scriptures, to curl on my lap as I read aloud. The dog and Jon gave way to sleepy oblivion, but as long as I read aloud, Teela purred and look lovingly with her large golden eyes.

For some reason, Teela always chose Jon's lap over mine, if the choice was available. (More of it?) When I would take her from his lap and sit next to him, she would reach a little black arm over and place a paw on Jon. He's never been a cat fan, but she won him over. We will never forget her little "signature arm," resting on us, making undemanding contact.

She had a lovely coat she kept immaculately groomed most of her life. A year ago, it was getting 'out of hand,' or is it 'mouth' for cats? She just couldn't keep up with it any more. On a very hot summer day, she looked so uncomfortable; I offered to clip her with electric clippers. She consented, by stretching out full length on the cool stone floor, and allowed me to clip off most of her long, now tangled, hot black hair. She was a 'black smoke cat,' so now her undercoat appeared gray. Her cute face was still black, with black tips on her ears and feet., and a big plum tail remained. I was a bit surprised at how the short clip revealed a rather thin, slightly bent frame. I consoled her with the promise that her heavy black coat would surely be back by winter. Not so. Only a few thin wirehairs protruded here and there, giving her a unique appearance; one that always drew comments from guests as she presented herself. A wise friend commented, "She has earned the right to look however she looks. It just doesn't matter any more." More wisdom gleaned from the life of this cat.

She lived in dignity, sensed our rules and followed them impeccably, and she died in peace without a painful struggle. In the last days, she didn't ask for much, greatly appreciated a soft dry towel bed under her body, and attempts to help her with water, near the end. She didn't complain. She enjoyed feeling loved, and then quietly went home. She is buried under the big tooth maple next to her first housemate, Muffin, (June 2000).

Yep, I'm a sentimental sap . .

Blue said...

ps: on a completely separate note, it was fun to see a pic of you with onyx. you're so pretty!

ann ominous said...

i swear that you currently have my dream life with all your animals. adopting horses with tons of animals running all over. i miss my horse. i'm boarding him in dayton still and really wish i could find somewhere that isn't a million dollars a month and is closer to columbus. i dont think i'd have all the wolves...perhaps nice mutty mixed breed dogs running all over. probably with gimpy legs and weird deformities. i'm a sucker for the under dog.

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