In July of 2002 I went to the Humane Society to adopt a cat. My Number One Son, Grimalkin, had passed in late September the year before, and I finally felt I could love another kitty.
We walked through the cat section, looking at all of the furkids available for adoption, but I wasn’t really connecting with anybody; then we saw the kitten room, with a couple of tabbies sleeping together and one little black furball perched on the litter box roof like a lion in front of his very own library. We were told that the only kitten available for adoption was the little black guy, and I asked to meet him.
We purelled the heck out of our hands and waited in a little side room, MiLady squatting on the floor, and me on the bench. The volunteer put the little black fuzzball down — and he ran across the room, up my leg, and sat on my shoulder to purr in my ear. And that’s how I met Harold.
See, when my parents were first married, my Dad laid down the law — “No Cats.” Ever. Period. So my Mom got a kitten anyway while Dad was at work; and when he came home that day, the kitten introduced itself by climbing his suit up to the shoulder and purring in his ear. I grew up with cats and with that story; so Harold’s behavior was confirmation that he was coming home with me.
We were told that the people who dropped him off had named him “Royal.” That’s not a name, that’s an adjective! So I renamed him on the spot, and my Anglo-Saxon-addled brain came up with Harold, “the last true King of England.” Since no one knew his birthday, and he was about three months old, we picked a date we’d remember: Tax Day, 4/15. We paid the exorbitant fees, put little Harold in a box, and took him home.
Harold was teeny. He could stand in my two hands held up flat together. He made up for it in boundless energy; he was the terror of the two old lady cats, Tasha and Tabby. And he started growing. And growing. I was told by friends that he looked like a Maine Coon; I was told by others that Maine Coon kitties get HUGE, and that I could expect to own a 20 pound cat. I didn’t believe them; I should have.
See, Harold took two years to stop growing, and he is truly the biggest cat I’ve ever lived with. He overflows my lap. He can sit on my leg and lick my neck. When I’m lying on my side, his butt is on my hip and his front paws curl over my shoulder. And I’m 5’9″. This is a BIG cat. He only weighed 14 pounds the last time I was on the scale with him, but he’s l o n g. He’s also a complete wuss, which is a good thing; he’s scared of cars and trucks and strangers (I suppose I should thank the neighbors for yelling at him when he was teeny, though that’s tough to do when the superstitious twits treat a living being the size of their foot that way) and the elder females of his new clan. And in true Tom Lehrer fashion, at least according to MiLady, he “LOVES his mother.” I’ve never been able to break him of the neck-licking thing; and if you watched him, you’d think he can only ever truly sleep in my lap. It’s not true, but it’s what he wants me to believe.
Today Harold is seven years old. I love “mabuki.” (That’s Huttese for “my boy.”) I just wanted to brag on him a while. Thanks for listening.