Life with Cats

X Marks the Fox

If you spend any significant amount of time with a cat, or multiple cats, you begin to realize that, just like humans, they have their own unique personalities.  And, just like humans, it’s usually the loud, bold, obnoxious, pretty, smart, outgoing, or unusual ones who get all the attention.  Despite being the youngest when we added him to the troop, my cat Fox has been the ‘middle child’ since we found him in 2007.  At the time, Tom and I were both working a lot and in the process of buying our first home.  Needless to say, there was a lot going on.

DIGITAL CAMERABaby Fox, a robust domestic shorthaired grey tabby with white feet and a white bib, showed up on the 7th tee at Fox Run Golf Course in June of 2007.  He was neither feral nor flea infested.  Quite the contrary—he looked very well cared for.  He was friendly but not overly needy.  Occasionally golfers would toss him crumbs or rub his little head, but no one made any attempts to take him.  So, after a couple days, up to the maintenance shed with Tom he went.

By day, little Fox would dart in and out of the maintenance shed, vigorously climb the small tree outside the garage and ride shotgun in a golf cart with Tom as he was out on the course.  At night, he nestled among the tools and greasy mower parts on the workbench inside the shed.  I would send Tom with cat food each day so that little Fox could eat something more appropriate than hot dogs and potato chips.  Because of our living situation – two adults and two cats in an efficiency apartment – we weren’t really considering bringing him home.  But he was so clean and so cute that I knew we could find him a forever family.

The major problem with keeping little Fox in the maintenance shed was that it was across a busy road from the rest of the golf course.  Many a raccoon, opossum, and deer had met their maker on this very road.  Naturally I worried about the little fella every day.  Eventually that worry got the best of me.  One Sunday morning, just as I was about to call Tom and tell him to bring the cat home, he showed up from work with little Fox tucked in his jacket.  Cleo and Smudge took one look at the kitten and ran in the opposite direction.  Fortunately, Smudge took a liking to Fox after just two days.  Cleo learned to accept him and tolerated him from a distance.

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Baby Fox

By July we knew we were moving, so Tom and I were busy packing and cleaning while working our full-time jobs.  Because we were preoccupied, Smudge took on the task of raising his little brother.  I have a video of he and Fox playing and a bunch of kitten pics, but not as many as you would think this crazy cat lady would have of a brand new addition to the furry family.  We officially moved in August of 2007 and started our never ending list of home renovations and landscaping projects.  There was always so much to do that the cats were left mostly to themselves.

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Little Fox and Smudge

In 2009 Cleo was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism which completely changed the dynamics at home.  She became top priority and required twice daily medications, frequent trips to the vet, and lots of extra doting.  Fox was still a kitten and not yet bigger than Smudge, so the two of them kept each other busy and entertained.  As Cleo’s hyperthyroidism progressed, her kidneys began to fail, which meant more care and attention – and less time for Smudge and Fox.  Smudge was always an attention hog but I think he knew how sick she was, so he kept his rowdiness to a minimum.  Fox, meanwhile, kept doing his thing – eating, sleeping, chasing Smudge, and playing in the cat room.

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The Trifecta:  Cleo, Smudge, and Fox

When we lost Cleo in 2012, I took it pretty hard.  Overwhelming grief, coupled with compassion fatigue from my job, consumed me for a long time.  Again, the boys were left unto themselves but they didn’t seem to mind.  For the next two years, it was just the boys.  They were older now and still buddies.  But, because Fox now outsized Smudge both in height and weight, there were fewer snuggle sessions and more power struggles.  For several months I really wanted a kitten.  It was high kitten season and they seemed to be everywhere but I couldn’t find one that I connected with.  Just when I had accepted that I wasn’t going to find one, Nellie showed up on a neighbor’s porch.  You can read more about her in my “6lb Terror” post.

Unlike Cleo, who was my first cat, the Big Cat, the feisty one, the cat who inspired a lot of my writing and creative projects; or Smudge who was the smart cat, the fun cat, the cat who would let you do anything to him, the cat who knew more tricks than most dogs; or Nellie, the beautiful pint-sized pistol that everyone instantly fell in love with; Fox is just Fox.  He is easy going and even tempered.  He is friendly, even with most strangers.  He loves TV time and will readily cuddle with you while you’re watching your favorite show or keep your feet warm on a cold winter’s night.  He’s an excellent hunter and keeps the house free of mice and defends his home from roaming cats and wildlife (from inside the house, of course).  Despite his friendly and affectionate nature, he does not like to be held or restrained.  Under NO circumstances are you to touch his feeties, front or back.  It’s easy to get enamored with the little white socks and pink toe beans and want to reach out and grab them.  Don’t do it, you will regret it.  He will draw blood.  He also has a big appetite and will steal any food left unattended.  But these few flaws are minor compared to the rest of his personality.  He was never a trouble maker or instigator.  He never ate house plants or knocked things off shelves.  Although he loves to keep his talons sharp, he doesn’t destroy the furniture or rugs, because we’ve given him things he is allowed to scratch on.06-17-2012611

In short – Fox has always been the good one.

At 10 years young, Fox J. Cat has climbed the ranks from baby of the family to top of the heap.  Now that Smudge is gone and it’s just Fox and Nellie, I can see his personality changing.  He is more open and receptive to our affection and is more engaged, instead of just sleeping all day.  He tolerates Nellie pretty well.  She desperately wants to play and have chase and he accommodates here and there, at least for a few minutes at a time.  Unfortunately, I can’t take much credit for his awesomeness.  Most of it comes naturally, the rest he learned from his feline siblings.

IMG_0401When he’s in a good mood, rolling on the floor and showing you his belly, you may catch a glimpse of a white cross on Fox’s chest.  I call it his St. Andrew’s cross, the cross on the flag of Scotland, the birthplace of golf.  It’s ok to reach down and rub his furry little head or boop his nose, just don’t touch those feeties!

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