Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Family Tree of cats

If you know the  Horners  you know that we love us some cats.  I don't, in fact, remember my life without a cat. 

I converted my husband, Fred, to love cats too...although he won't really admit it readily. Our girls all love cats in varying degrees. It's safe to say--we are cat people. 

I have had the best experience with all of my cats, and have never been without one in my entire 50 years of life. 

First there was Bootsy. She and I grew up together.  
The first cat in my family tree. Bootsy Horner.

When she was put down when I was 13 years old I cried for months afterwards. She was my most best friend.  

I had a difficult time when we moved from Windsor to South Windsor. I was bullied pretty badly. You'll read more about that in a later blog post. Bootsy would greet me at the end of each day by kissing me through the bars of the railing of the upstairs staircase. She seemed to sense I needed a friend. She never left my side. A beautiful angora Persian black and brown beauty. I still think of her. 

We're not sure what happened to her that caused her injury. What I remember is that one day she came in from being outside and she couldn't walk. She dragged herself into our downstairs bathroom and wedged herself between the wall and the toilet. We wondered if maybe she had been hit by a car. My mother was going to be bringing her to the vet later that day. I snuggled up to Bootsy before school that morning. I remember she was grooming herself. She wouldn't let anyone touch her but me. I pushed my face into her fur as she gave herself a bath. I told her I loved her. She licked me on the top of my head. 

My Dad petting Bootsy
My mother had her put down that day while I was at school. The vet recommended it because of her age. He said they could explore what was going on but the cost and recovery would probably be too much. I didn't understand. But I know my mother loved her too and wouldn't have put her down easily. All I knew was that I was inconsolable.

Bootsy was brought into the Horner family a year before I was born. She was my big "sister. " I'm told it was love at first site for both of us. My mother, who, went back to work when I was very little, liked to tell the story of how Bootsy liked to protect me from strangers.

One of the earliest jobs I remember my mother having was at The Windsor Towne House. As of 2013 it still stands in Windsor. Back then it was a place for business men who were working for long term assignments at various Hartford area businesses. I think a lot of engineers like my Dad. My mother liked to entertain. My parents were separated or divorced at this time. I don't remember which. I remember my mother would invite men and women who didn't have a place to go for Christmas to our home for Christmas dinner. My mom just didn't want people to be alone for Christmas.  I'd like to think I inherited that feeling. I open my home to all on Christmas Eve and have had many "orphans" on this night. And I love it.

But back to cats.  On those nights that mom had parties and strangers were over, Bootsy would sit at the top of the stairs and glare down at everyone . She frequently planted herself right in front of my bedroom door if strangers were over and I was asleep. Mom liked to say she was protecting me.

I don't remember how we got Munchkin. My mother called her Nadia. Everyone was enthralled
The only good photo I have of Munchkin.
She looked a lot like Boo-Boo Kitty.
with the gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who just scored a perfect 10 in the 
Olympics. The name didn't stick. Everyone else called her Munch. I remember she was a sweet thing.  She was a gray and white tabby. I never grew as close to her as I had Bootsy. But I loved her. She lived with my mother right thru the time she moved to Westfield, Massachusetts and I was in college. I don't remember how she died. For some reason I think it was diabetes. I know I was grown and my mother was close to her and they were great companions.

One of the stipulations I had when I married Fred was that I needed to have a cat right away. He was fine with it but he wasn't really a pet kind of person. He had all kinds of random pets growing up but they never stayed around for one reason or another so he never really formed that magical bond between a pet and their owner. He would soon know that incredible love!

A few weeks before we got married, my sister in law, Carol Horner, took in a stray cat. The cat, it was soon discovered, was pregnant. Fred and I had plans to move into our new house about a month after we got married, so I thought it was fate that there would be some kittens available that I could choose from to make our new house truly a home!

The kittens were born a week or so before the wedding and Fred and I went to take a look and choose one. Fred’s only condition was that we had to have a male cat. He felt female cats were moody and unfriendly (not true, of course). I didn’t care what sex we got…I just knew I needed a kitty. We chose a name in advance. Boo-Boo. Fred won’t like this story getting written down for all generations to see, but Boo was an affectionate name that I had for him early in our relationship.  

It was adorable, trust me.

Anyhow, we choose a black and brown newborn male and named him Boo-Boo. The plan was he would stay with his Mama until he was old enough to leave her which would be about the time we were moving into our new home. Carol was happy to take care of him until we were ready for him.

The wedding came, and then our 2 week honeymoon. First a week in San Diego, California and from there a cruise to Mexico. When we returned, Carol had left a message for me to call her. I was crushed to hear that little Boo Boo had died. Another one of the kittens had died as well and Carol’s theory was that because the mom was a stray, she was not healthy herself and her babies were sickly.
Our sweet Boo-Boo Kitty (1988-2008)

Carol felt so terrible that “our” kitten had died, that before we got back from our honeymoon and had found out, she went up to a farm she knew of in Stafford Springs, Connecticut that had kittens for adoption and chose one for us. He was waiting for us at her house. 

There we met the love of our family’s life. Boo-Boo Joseph Hawran.

He was a gray tabby with white paws and a white tummy. And the most precious baby boy you have ever seen in your life. Carol chose him from the other kittens because he had such a sweet nature. We had 20 wonderful years with Boo Boo. The day we had to put him down due to cancer in his jaw was the day our hearts broke in pieces. Fred cried as hard as I did that day.

We used to joke that we had Boo Boo longer than we had our daughters. He was, in all senses of the word, spoiled rotten. He was our baby before we had babies.

Boo-Boo was incredibly smart. People smart. When he wanted to go outside, he would ring this silver bell we had hanging on our front door handle. He taught himself to do that. It was simply left there one Christmas. All of a sudden he started ringing it. People were astonished he taught himself. But we weren’t. That was Boo-Boo.

When we first moved to Hope Circle, Fred and I used to take walks after dinner. We would start up Hope Circle to Rood Avenue and I would glance back and there was Boo-Boo—trotting after us. Wanting to walk with us. Almost to the end of Hope Circle. It took us some convincing and explaining to get him to go back home. We were worried about him wandering too far away from home if he walked with us.

Many years later he could tell time. Seriously.

I worked at home doing web design. The girls were all in Oliver Ellsworth School. I would easily loose track of time while I working. But not Boo-Boo. He knew the girls would be coming home soon, and he would come into my office and meow to go out around 2:45pm. Loudly. The bell was gone at that point. And he would pace around. And bother me. Until I let him out. It took me a while to figure it out. I would glance out my office window. Every day he would trot out to the front lawn and sit and wait. Several minutes later the bus would roll up to the front of our house. Boo-Boo would stand up. The girls would get off the bus. Boo-Boo would run over to the them to greet them (and be greeted by them).

They loved it. Other kids would comment on it, “Is that your cat waiting for you?”

There were a few times over those years they were all talking with each other and would run past him accidentally on the way into the house. He would look stunned when that happened. They would always realize it and run back to love him.

Boo-Boo's usual cuteness
He loved to be outside while they were playing. Or if Fred was working in the yard. He would sit under a bush in the shade and just watch. He’d come over once in a while 
to make sure you knew he was there and get some love.

Boo-Boo always came in at bedtime. You would just call him and he would come in. No worries. Once when he was younger he was gone for a few days. I scolded him about it and it never happened again.

He was a dream because he never used a litter box. We trained him to go outside. Even in the winter.

He got the “good” seat on the couch. Boo-Boo had his favorite seat and if you were in it, he would circle around from the family room to the kitchen, back to the family room to see if you moved yet. He was polite about it. Boo-Boo was always polite, we used to joke. But by the third time he circled around and stood there looking at you—you felt guilty. And you moved somewhere else. To another seat, to the floor—wherever. And Boo-Boo would happily jump up to his seat, take a bath and go to sleep.

We have had other cats since. All just as loved and adored and worshipped. 

We don't have a lot of photos of Bow. Here he is. Can you see
the notch out of his ear on the left? (1998-2009)
Bow. He was a black and white little boy I got from my friend Denise. Michelle and he 
loved each other. He would let her hold him like a baby and she would rub his big rabbit feet. Bow Francis was his legal name. He had a wild spirit and went out for long stretches of time. But he was a sweet boy. One time he came back with the tip of his ear chewed off. He went outside one night and never came back. We think he met an untimely demise due to another animal. After Bow I never let our cats out again. I just couldn’t face losing another one.

BJ. He was a sweet tiger cat. BJ Lawrence. Our girls gave all of our cats a middle name, if you haven't noticed. He was from the CT Humane Society. But he was a nervous sort. Not at the very beginning, but definitely as he got older. It ended up he had heart problems. He used to sit on the kitchen stool all the time. He was afraid of Buddy, our next cat. Sadly, he died on our bathroom rug after a blood clot made his legs useless and his heart gave out.  He meowed during the night and I layed down with him and stroked his back as he passed away. Fred had to take him to the animal hospital for cremation. I was too sad.
Buddy Arthur Hawran, about 3 months after we took 
him home from the vet. BJ wasn't hiding on the kitchen chair yet. 
Buddy (2009-present)


Buddy came next. Buddy Arthur Hawran. We had just put Boo-Boo down a few months prior. I walked into my vet with BJ for an exam and he said in his Indian accent, “Ohhhh…you need a new kitty. This one is perfect for you. He needs a home.” I said absolutely not. My heart was still too broken over the loss of our Boo-Boo. Sara was with me. No, no, no, I said. Just take a look, he said. Well, of course, that’s all it took. Buddy snuggled right into the crook of my neck. He was a kitten that Hartford animal control found on the streets of Hartford during sub zero weather. He had an upper respiratory infection and was not ready to go home quite yet. He gave kisses to Sara. Snuggled and purred with me. I had to have him. Of course. Darn cat love. 

Stuart Ward Hawran. Thanksgiving 2014. Deciding he
wants to help set the table with me. 
Then came Stuart. We decided after BJ died that Buddy needed a playmate. So  Katie, Michelle and my niece Lisa all headed to the CT Humane Society. There we met this adorable Ginger named Stuart. So, breaking with the “B” theme of our cats, we kept his name and brought this hilarious guy into our family. His middle name? Ward. After some kid that Michelle went to school with. A kid she didn't even like much, apparently. But it suited him, anyhow.  I honestly think that next to Boo-Boo, he is the smartest cat I have ever known. He has incredible patience and a long memory. If he wants to get into something…he’s gonna figure it out. His specialty is chewing plastic bags. And headphone cords. Yeah, he's weird. But we sure love him. 

Life is sweet with cats. They are each so individual, and I know they are spoiled, loved and cherished beyond belief. Cats rule!

2 comments:

  1. I loved reading about your cats! I currently have six cats. I have had others who have passed away. They are definitely members of the family.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beth, Thanks so much for the nice words! Cats are awesome, enjoy yours.

    ReplyDelete

Stuart

Stuart
Let me just log onto Ancestry for a few minutes to search.

Diego

Diego
Nope, nothing in this newspaper about our family.