Most of my adult life I have been the companion of at least one dog and some of my adult life the caretaker of a cat. In general I have found cats to be a bit more independent and aloof than I want in a companion pet. I don't like fawning dogs either but something in between.
That was all true until I picked up a tiny skinny half feral brown tiger kitten from Winderwood Farm three years ago. He was not litter trained and had lived outside for his first 12 weeks among the other barn/yard cats there. However he was definitely friendly so home we went.
It was an interesting 3 days trying to get him to use a litter box and also trying to tame him before we let him go out on his own. Eventually when he went by I just picked him up for a few seconds, then put him down. Those seconds turned into a minute, then several minutes, etc. He was so full of life and joy and fun that I named him Sparkles 'cause I could see the light sparking off him.
Basel was not as enamored of this kitten as I was. Generally because Basel really did not appreciate having his tail attacked every time it was wagged or being jumped on as he walked by. But Sparkles persisted and started licking Basel's ears and head too. While waiting for breakfast or dinner to be set down, Sparkles would roll himself up in Basel's place mat, then when Baz' dish was set down, lick Baz and then scamper over to his own dish.
SmokeyBlue liked him and helped with his training too. I wrote about that here.
Sparkles played with anything and everything, yet not destructively. He was the perfect fiber/ knitting cat. I could give him his own fiber and he would then leave the majority of my basket stash alone.
For such a playful feline he also left hanging strings on knitting alone as well.
We came to adore this kitten. He came to love being held and often slept between my feet.
In the last few weeks, his newest trick was to sit on the top of Jim's chair, then when Jim moved forward for second or two, would slide behind him. He would keep doing this, purring all the while, until he was way down behind Jim's back.
We do not like to cage our animals. I know the risks involved very well. But we feel quality of life is way better than longevity. Sparkles used Basel's doggie door to get in and out with ease. He grew into a long sleek slinky hunter. He reduced the burgeoning chipmunk and mouse population to manageable levels. We probably saved, on average, at least 3 birds a week too. I didn't like his catching them very much but he was fairly agreeable to giving them up and I always reminded myself that he was just being himself.
He was always himself. Fun, loving, joyful feline Sparkles. And a perfect hat tester.
He made me laugh at least once a day with his antics. He taught me a lot about letting go and just seeing the best in things, having a good time, yet also loving my people and dog and buns.
Last Monday Sparkles ate dinner with Baz but did not sleep with us. In the morning we called him but he did not show. It was a hot day so we thought he might be sleeping somewhere cool after a night of prowling. He did not show for dinner nor at bedtime. The next morning we called neighbors and the SPCA. One of our neighbors had seen him playing with a feral cat a week before so we thought he might be off on a romp (although in 3 years he had not done so before). We did hear coyotes Monday and Tuesday nights fairly close by. All week no tiger cats were taken in by the SPCA. I put notices in mailboxes and gave one to our postal carrier.
He might still be out on a romp but I feel it is time to let go and move on a bit. I miss him everywhere I go on my property and in the house. I can see him playing on the railing, coming out from a bush to scamper down the steps with me, sitting on the AC unit outside the shop window to ask to come in, sleeping on the deck under a bench while the bunnies hopped about. I have good memories and loving thoughts.