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2012-366 Day 279 – Gatsby

Growing up we always had cats, in fact we had the same two for the first decade or so of my life and one of those two pretty much made it from before I was born until my 20th birthday. The only dogs I was ever around were my Nana and Grandpa’s, first out in North Hollywood and then up in Colorado on the ranch. Well, that and our third cat, Mittens (which we never once called him that, it was just on the adoption certificate), who we affectionately called Kippi (there is some argument whether that ended with an “i” or a “y”) because when he was a kitten, he thought he was a puppy. Played fetch and everything, and was the greatest hunter, animal or otherwise, I’ve ever seen. You’d see him crouch down in the grass, leap, and an explosion of feathers as he brought down his target. I’d have to eat my food with my forehead pressed against his, as he was just waiting for my guard to drop (I was a teenage boy with food, it never did. He did, however, snag quite a bit from other more unsuspecting targets).

Having always been around cats, there was little doubt that I would have one of my own later in life. One of my roommates had a cat when I first moved out of my parent’s house, so it wasn’t until I moved in with Jess to the family housing at CSUN after we got married that I was catless for the first time in my life.

Actually, hold on a second, let’s go back to that roommate’s cat for a second, there’s a good story there. This cat was the dumbest cat I have ever seen, and that’s saying something considering the procession of felines I’ve been around in my life. We played a game called Gobi tennis (Gobi being the cat’s name, of course, which he earned due to his sandy fur coloring) in which he would lay on his back and we would poke him on either the right or the left side. He would attempt to attack the offending side while still on his back, in which case we would switch over to his other side. He would go back and forth for as long as you liked, never figuring out that he could a) simply flip over and attack the hand or b) wait on one side for the offending finger to come back. The funny story, however, happened one day when I was coming downstairs to our living room and saw him on the couch.

To understand what I saw, you have to understand where we lived and how the house was laid out. My roommates and I lived in a small house that was owned by the parents of a friend of ours up in Chatsworth Lake Manor. Lake Manor is in the extreme Northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley tucked in against the foothills and is a five minute drive from either of the main Valley drags. It maintains a bit of the Old West rustic charm that has been long obliterated from the rest of the Valley, and that charm includes various wild animals that frequent the environs, including some that you might not expect in a suburban setting. The house layout was fairly simple, as you walked in the door and two short staircases on your right went up to the two bedrooms and bathroom on the top floor and the converted garage/main bedroom down below. The living room spreads in front and to the left edge of the house, with the dining area up and to the left and the kitchen next to it forming a sort of C with a dividing wall between the living room and kitchen. As I came down the stairs from my room, I looked into the living room and saw Gobi staring in wide-eyed amazement at something out the back sliding door, which was out of my view past the dividing wall at the back end of the dining area. I slowly made my way to where the cat was sitting and peered out the back door with him. Standing on the porch was a three foot tall peacock, just minding it’s own business. Near as I can tell, the only thing running through Gobi’s pea brain was “What is that?!”

Anyhow, back to my story. We remained catless for the first couple years of our marriage but did acquire a dwarf hamster we named Spurtle. His is a story for another time, but I’ll just say here that he was pretty awesome for a tiny hamster. We also had a cricket problem (they would sneak through the gap under the front door) and the occasional friend looking to unload a cat, which was against our lease.

Both Jess and I had cats growing up, so it was really a matter of time before we got one of our own. Actually, while we had discussed it a few times, it was a surprise to me when our cat made his first appearance. I got home from work one day and Jess bounced out of the bedroom with a little sandy fuzzball. We determined that all of our future cats and dogs needed literary names (why, I’m not certain I remember) and also a middle name for scolding, so we dubbed him Gatsby Scott after some deliberation.

Gatsby is a funny combination of a lot of my previous cats, and, amazingly enough, he exhibits most of the positive qualities. He’s fairly smart (he can sit and stand on command when a treat is involved), fairly dumb (apparently if we go in another room we are suddenly gone from the face of the planet and he complains loudly), plays fetch (actually Kippi grew out of it, but Gatsby hasn’t, he just goes through phases), and can’t jump (actually, that’s a property none of my cats have had until him, although he’s a bit bottom heavy). He will work with all his might to try and jump a one foot gap only to never have his back end leave whatever he is standing on, instead forming a bridge with his front feet and eventually pulling his booty over. He’s only occasionally a lap cat, doesn’t much like being picked up, and doesn’t often sleep with us, but he’s very social and will come out and interact even when we have large groups of people (it will sometimes take a bit of time for him to make his first appearance, however). He’s also good with all the kids we have coming in and out of the house, a fact we partially attribute to growing up while Jess was babysitting one of our honorary nieces on a regular basis. Gatsby got to experience a child going from immobile to crawling over several weeks, and I have to imagine that he wasn’t happy the first time it was suddenly mobile.

We’ve considered recently getting him a little brother, but I’m just not certain how much introducing a new cat will change him, and we have a nice balance now between all of us. We got lucky how well he’s turned out for being a somewhat random pickup, and he’s already one of my top two favorite cats of all time.

Weight: 226 Loss: 14 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 307 miles
Softball Stats: Game 2 – 3/4 (.750), 3 R, 1 RBI Season – 6/7 (.857), 2 2B, 5 R, 2 RBI
Fitocracy Level: 26 ID: disciplev1

Posted in Matt 2012-366, Matt General. Tagged with , , , .

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