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Margaret's Musings: Tiny body -- big voice now silent


From the very beginning our cat, A.P.(Associated Press), showed us incredible tenacity. In 1991, we all gathered in southern Wisconsin to celebrate my Aunt Navy's 70th birthday. My cousin Tim and his niece Beth took an early morning power walk on the rolling rural roads in the area. They were over a mile away when they were joined by a little bundle of fur, which came bounding out of the long grasses lining the ditches. The kitten followed them all the way home, meowing as he fell in step with the duo. The kitten was not to be deterred; he had found his family.

After, determining that no one who lived on the road was willing to claim the tiny fellow, our clan tried to figure out what to do with him; Beth wanted to take him back to Florida with her, but she is allergic to cats, my folks at the time had a couple cats of their own and the rest of the family declined. I brought the little guy to Hudson, with the idea that I would eventually take him to the shelter. Or a least that is what I told my husband.

Well, it didn't take long for him to take over the household, ruling the roost even as a kitten.

From the very start, he was vocal. He could tell you what for, if he needed food, his litter changed or just a general scolding if you left him alone, which was exactly what I got from him a week ago, when I returned after being gone for a couple of days. The first time he was examined by a veterinarian as a kitten, we were told, "this one is really a talker."

The common phrase 'Cats have nine lives' was more than true for A.P. He never gained much stature even though he was a male cat; he never became what you think of as a big Tom Cat. In fact for much of his life, and I apologize for this, he was frequently referred to as a girl as he was very petite.

He had several close encounters with near death experiences, from kidney failure to hyperthyroidism, to near crushing moments with canines.

Even, last May, when he was given just a few days to live, he proved the experts wrong.

Through the 18 ½ years of his life, A.P. was a huge presence in our home even though he shared it with canines of a much larger stature. He put them in their place, stole their beds, ate their food, played with their ears and tails and curled up with them. He outlived three of them and broke in another two.

He was nearly a constant companion to my husband, Jay. A.P. was almost always in his office; lying on his chair or across Jay's chest or walking across his keyboard. In later years, I would awaken to find him curled up next to my head or just staring at me as I slept.

Cats, as cat lovers can tell you, are a bit more independent than their domestic counterparts, dogs; however, they can provide a comfort and a presence that is all their own.

A.P., even though during the last years of his life and he was brought back to life more than once, never seemed to want to leave us until last week. His strong vocalizations softened and faded. Even though his body was now extremely frail, I hoped we could pull off another miracle and bring him back from the brink. It was not meant to be and I knew it in my heart even though it was hard to admit and it caused me to think I had failed him.

Every springtime, he longed to go outside, and only rarely escaped, slipping out the door for his own adventure. This spring he will finally be placed at rest under the bird house in the perennial garden, outside at last.

It is amazing how empty our house is, how quiet and how suddenly it has that not quite lived in feeling.

The constant talking is gone... We all miss him. He found us nearly 19 years ago and didn't let us go until last week.

If you are interested in adopting a cat there are many wonderful organizations in the Twin Cities area that are giving cats and kittens a second chance. This is one we have supported in the past: Feline Rescue, Inc. at 593 Fairview Ave N, St. Paul, MN 55104. For more information, call (651) 642-5900 or e-mail or go to