Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Cat

Onyx when I first acquired him (2007)
About ten years ago I decided that I needed another cat in my life. So I contacted my friend Lois whom I had met bottling wine at Ahlgren Vineyard who operated a cat rescue and adoption center on Two Bar Road, close to my home a few miles north of Boulder Creek. After lunch in her kitchen she showed me through her cat barn which contained about a dozen animals, some in cages and some running free. Most of the cats had been given to Lois to care for and to find homes, but one of them, a scraggy black tom cat, had just walked out of the woods on his own. He was a problem cat, attacking the other cats and of somewhat unpredictable behavior. Lois had named him "Onyx" and said that I would be doing her a favor by taking him off of her hands. I liked him immediately. So Onyx moved into my ashram and we began our little dance of domesticity and wildness.

Onyx at the computer editing videos.
One of the most noticeable things about this cat was the sound he made -- like a squeaking door hinge. "MYRRKK!". Which drew comments like "When is your cat going to learn to meow?". Not too many people got to hear his squawk, because Onyx was mainly a one-man cat and would run into one of his hiding places whenever anyone new would visit. Usually I wouldn't see Onyx first, I'd hear him: "MYRRKK!" was how he'd announce his presence. And I'd turn my head towards that squeaky sound to see him crawling out of the bushes or hidden in my high-up sleeping loft.
Nick and Onyx: it's obvious who's boss here.
Onyx was mainly a nocturnal animal, kept the house mouse-free, and seemed to have a good nightly relationship with the raccoons and skunks that share space with us humans. Four-legged animals, I believe, have more in common with other four-legged animals than they do with the two-leggers. I remember hiking one afternoon in the creek bed of Arana Gulch in Santa Cruz and coming across a large dark four-legged creature "talking" to a smaller black-and-white four-legger in the grass. Upon becoming aware of my presence, the large animal ran across the creek, jumped onto the bank and disappeared into the forest. It was some sort of cougar or mountain lion. The small animal just sat there; I guessed it to be a large skunk. It was unafraid as I drew closer and turned out to be a big long-haired domestic cat, who casually turned her back on me and walked slowly back into the bushes. I had interrupted a tete a tete between two friendly felines gossiping about their very dissimilar lives.
Onyx posing as an LOL cat
Onyx is famous! I made him into an LOL cat and sent his picture to the original I Can Has Cheezeburger funny-cat-meme site which is one of the main purposes of the Internet.
Onyx asleep on the couch
Onyx mostly slept alone but often would sleep with me for a while before finding his own spot or going out hunting and socializing with the wildlife. When it was cold I could sometimes coax him to sleep under the covers. In the summer I like to sleep in my tree house and Onyx would sometimes climb up and share my space, looking at the stars with me and listening to the night noises. Wherever we slept, I knew that, near dawn I would hear hear his "MYRRKK!" and soon 15 pounds of cat would land on my chest, signaling "Time for breakfast!".
Onyx, a recent portrait
In recent weeks, Onyx has quit sleeping in the tree house, has been eating less and less, losing weight, spending more and more time alone in the woods, sometimes off for a day and a night. When he makes his sound and appears on the deck, he seems skinny but strong, affectionate and suffering no pain. He visits with me for a while, then hastens off on his own. Having kept lots of cats, I can recognize when one of them is saying "Good bye." Haven't seen him since.
Love this well ere it perish.

8 comments:

Virginia Mallady said...

I loved seeing your Onyx.

I am sad that he departed from your corner of the world.

:( Ginny

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of how indigenous people choose to depart this world, by going out alone into nature's elements, just like Onyx.

I am so sorry for your loss, Nick!

With deepest sympathy, Beverly

nick herbert said...

That's how I'd like to go, Bev.
Just crawl into some hole in the woods.

RoseRose said...

What beautiful green eyes. You seem made for each other ..

William Brandon Shanley said...

Hola Herr Doktor & Friends of Felines--

I grew up on a farm in Litchfield County, Connecticut, and our nearest neighbors were Joe and Mary Pfundt, brother and sister farmers who had 35 milk-drinking cats living in the hayloft of their dairy barn when I harvested hay with them at age 14 in 1965. Neither ever married, so they had no children; their cows, cats and dogs were their very own--and I might add, much better behaved--no hang-ups from the past, no future worries, always cat-tractive and loyal, living in the eternal now. Joe and Mary loved their cats so much, that when they passed away, they left half of their $1 million estate to the Catholic Church (a ticket to heaven guarantee!) and the other half to the Little Guild of St. Francis, an animal shelter so divine, the cats live in a three story human house all their own. Why, I thought, this is better than John D. Rockefeller's grandkids got at his Pocantico Hills estate in Sleepy Hollow, New York because they're not doomed to live in the shadow of the oily, smarmy, dark side!

Nick, Dr. Eowyn sent out these fury feline and canine funnies this week, and your delightful slice of CAT-NESS-ISNESS inspired me to pass along this 10:54 minutes of hilarity to you and your friends.

My favorite is the piano playing puppy at 3:13.

https://youtu.be/QFH747sK200

We all need a break these Undog Days of August from the madness of the Deep State and MSM's Nuclear Ninnies. I'm still recovering from the unbridled, merciless attacks of one Very Naughty Warmongering-cum-Project Artichoke-cum-Allen Dulles loving-cum-CIA Agent-cum-Illuminati-secreting-cum-AI-loving-cum-misanthrope who hobnobs with Skull & Cones psychopathic oligarchs on sNob Hill. I discovered this video strip to be the perfect antidote!

Let me know if you agree!

CatCheers!

Will

nick herbert said...

Will--

Thanks for your humorous, informative and catty comments.

However I try to avoid politics on my blog (unless they are jokes) and I do not appreciate your digression into what some people (not me) think of as "reality".
Please save these rants for someone who gives a damn.

Or for the litter box.

Thank you.

Nick

PurrGirl said...

My Bernie Sandbox looks just like your sweet Onyx. He is 16 now, and blind and deaf, but still likes to cuddle and sleep with me. And he gets a sardine each day, along with his regular food. He spends most of his days sleeping among the flowers. Such preciousness and idiosyncratic creatures. I believe Isaac Asimove wrote about how how copacetic they are for humans. Lucky us.

Beverley Kane said...

O Nick! How moving! My heart goes out for the loss of your friend.

My first Soul Cat, Cream Abdul Jabbar, never showed us that it was her time. To all appearances she was strong and healthy. Then on a day when I left her happy on the bed, she disappeared and we found her curled up under a red rose bush OOB. I was both sad and angry. (Tho she did wait for Ruben to come home from Tokyo and said Meow to him on the bridge. In retrospect, that was goodbye.) In a communication from over the rainbow bridge, she told me she knew that I would do everything to save her if she showed she was sick and she didn't want that.

And she was right, as that was exactly what I did w/ my second Soul Cat, Hapi. Hapi had a long bout with cancer. For months, I ran a nursing home 24/7 for her. As a result, I suffered a near-physical, near-psychic collapse. When we finally euthanized her at home, it was botched by our otherwise wonderful vet in an otherwise lovely ceremony at the 2014 New Moon 2 hours before the Winter Solstice and, co-incidently, the 6th night of Chanukah, when we had brought her home in 1997. I cried for two years, then last Winter Solstice, finally adopted 2 kittens from Nine Lives Rescue.

Onyx seems to have given you a great gift in saying a clear goodbye without hanging on for months of mutual pain and suffering.