In 2003, I walked into a vet’s office to pet some cats that were up for adoption. I didn’t intend on getting a cat. I just happened to see a sign near a store I had visited. I’ve petted animals before and walked away. This time was different. A fluffy white furball came over to me and sat in my lap. When he started to purr, I just knew he was going to join our household. Wayland encouraged me to wait and check out some more cats at the local shelter to be sure. We later saw the “cat lady” who took care of a ton of cats roaming freely on the premises. As we walked around and interacted with a wide variety of cats, one cat waited by the door patiently. He had already claimed us and was ready to go when we were. We eventually figured it out and asked the cat lady more about him. It turned out that Prancer had been at the shelter for two years. No one wanted to adopt him because he was deaf and already an older cat estimated to be between 5-7 years old. Then when she said that two parents had dropped him off at the shelter because their schizophrenic son could no longer care for him, there was obviously only one decision to make. After signing the adoption papers with two cats as official witnesses (the cat lady was not kidding around), Prancer came home with us.
We quickly learned that he was quite the character and picky about his food, but he was the most loving cat one could ever imagine or hope for. And he slept like a log even with the vacuum cleaner on and didn’t spook with thunder, thus making him the perfect apartment cat. We thought of changing his name and tried some new ones, but decided to stick with “Prancer” out of respect for his original person and since he couldn’t hear anyway. He loved people of all ages and people’s laps. He enjoyed sleeping with and on people. His purring was hypnotic and relaxing. He’s the only cat I’ve ever known to thoroughly appreciate belly rubs. He cracked me up once when he was too embarrassed to show himself after getting a lion haircut. He tolerated the younger cat when she joined the family. He became the big boss when the dog entered the picture. He was a comfort to my ailing mother. He was present throughout various family, relationship, and work ups and downs as well as critical losses. He especially aided me during my graduate studies. He weathered several moving trips and his own early stages of kidney disease. He even saved me from getting a parking ticket one time. Prancer loved sunshine. Prancer liked feathers. Prancer reveled in being brushed a lot.
His one weakness was that he was a serious catnip junkie. He managed to escape the house a few times in Michigan to sneak into the neighbor’s backyard where there were waist-high patches of wild catnip. And yes, he had terrible withdrawal symptoms each time he was re-confined to the house. It was so sad and yet so funny at the same time. In his old age, Prancer was grumpy, stinky, and had a morning routine that everyone had to abide by. My sister called him “Old Man,” and he adored her. He may have been skin and bones, missing most of his teeth, and partially blind, but he captured two cicadas earlier this month on the balcony, which was no small feat. I feel very blessed that this four-legged creature with a heart of gold was a part of my life for so long. I’m thankful that he put up with my moods and didn’t hold a grudge whenever I was not the perfect pet person. It’s amazing how much a cat can teach you about the basics and just being. There better be a hellava lot of catnip for Prancer in heaven or in his next life is all I’m saying.