This is Boo, my fastidious little gentleman. I feel bad, because I don’t talk about him as often as I talk about Kiki or Cleo, but Kiki is just so funny and weird and awkward, and Cleo is so horrible, there are just so many funny stories to tell about them. Boo is the quiet, easy one, like the only good kid in a family full of juvenile delinquents. It’s not like Mom and Dad love the juvies more; they just take up more time and attention. But Boo is my special little man.
As the only boy in a house full of girls, he takes a lot of abuse, but he’s so easy-going. If the girl cats bite him or push him off the food dish, even though there’s a perfectly good food dish nearby they could be eating from, he just looks sad and runs away. Cleo chases him almost the whole time she’s awake, and he plays so gently and patiently with her. And he’s so talkative! He’s so loud, you can hear him all over the house, and he adds punctuation, I swear. We have entire back-and-forth conversations: “Hi, Boo.” “Mow.” “Boo!” “Mow!” “I love you, Boo.” “Mow?” It will go on until I run out of things to say. He never seems to run out of things to say. Of course, he only has a one-word vocabulary.
He’s muscular and svelte and agile. He can jump to incredible heights. His goal has been to reach the top of every room. He’ll jump from the TV cabinet to the top of the bookshelves nearby, then lounge there, a foot from the ceiling, lording it over the girl cats who watch him, mouths open in shock, from the floor. He jumps from the counter to the fridge to the top of the kitchen cabinets. He jumps from the dresser to the cornice box above my bedroom window. The only thing that has stumped him is the fireplace mantle. Sometimes I see him sitting on the floor in front of it, studying it. The mountain he could never quite summit. The one that got away.
Boo is a rescue cat, like all my cats, but he’s the first one we didn’t actually fish out of the cold and rain or off a busy road or starving out in our own backyard. He was our only “planned pregnancy,” so to speak, when it comes to cats. The rest were all accidents, though wonderful, as it turns out. But Boo we planned. Sheri had always wanted a cat. She spent most of her early childhood with her face decorated with whiskers and a pink nose, crawling around on all fours. I didn’t think our twin border collies would do well with cats, so we waited until they had passed before getting Sheri her first cat when she was seven.
She was so excited! We got Ruffy first, and then a week later we went to get a kitten. We figured a puppy and a kitten would grow up together loving each other. Petco was hosting the Siamese Rescue organization, so we went to see what they had. When Sheri walked in, she knew she wanted a white cat with blue eyes, and right in front was a white cat with blue eyes. Sheri put her fingers through the cage bars and he played with her so cute, batting her fingers with his claws carefully retracted, and rubbing his face on her hand. But I dragged her away. We needed a kitten to get along with our puppy.
I was talking to the lady who ran the event, and she asked why I wanted a kitten. “I would prefer a cat, actually, since I’ve never had a cat, but I have a dog already. Do you have any cats who love dogs?” I joked. “Actually, we do,” she said, and led me straight back to Boo.
So obviously he was meant to be ours.
We named him Boo because he loves to silently ghost around the house in the dark, tripping people. He especially loves to run under your feet as you walk down the stairs.
That first day home, he scratched Sheri. I was so upset — how could I have brought this huge, clawed, fanged beast into my home to hurt my children? Granted, she was trying to put a doll dress on him at the time. But he seemed so distant. He hid under a bed all day. I thought we’d made a big mistake.
And then we all went to bed. In the middle of the night, my husband and I were awakened by this loud purring. Suddenly Boo jumped up onto the bed with us and went back and forth between us, getting pets, rubbing his head on us, and purring like a motor. The poor little guy had figured out that, since we’d all gone to bed, and he wasn’t taken back to the cage, he must be home. He finally had a home.
He did get along wonderfully with Ruffy and every other dog we ever brought into the house, and every cat. (In the picture to the left, notice that the big dog is on his back. He always rolled over and acted like Boo was killing him.) He wasn’t Sheri’s cat, though, from the start — they just didn’t click. He needs space, and she wants a snuggler. She was meant for Kiki, as it turns out. Instead, he became my cat.
He’s my little shadow. He doesn’t really like to sit on you or be petted for hours. He’s very easily overwhelmed by affection. We call it “Boo’s walk-about” — he gets a few pets, then walks a short distance away, then walks back for a few pets, then walks away. But he’s usually in whatever room I’m in, curled up on my desk, on the footrest of my chair, on the table while I cook, on the bathroom counter when I shower. He runs to the door to greet us when we come home. And he sleeps a good part of every night at the foot of my bed. Not touching, but always purring.
This is why you adopt homeless animals instead of those ridiculously priced pure-breds: Because they are so grateful to have a family, to be home. Forever home. Think about it next time you’re planning on buying a pet. Go to the local shelter — a no-kill shelter if the pound breaks your heart like it does mine; you’ll still save a pound puppy because you free up space at the no-kill so they can accept more pound puppies — and find that grateful little dog or cat who will love you forever for saving it. It’s the best feeling ever.