Thursday, March 17, 2005

Jumpin' Jack Flash - R.I.P. 2/23/2005

In February 1999, my family's cat of 19 years died. Her name was Sprite and she lived with me instead of at my parents' house from 1995-1999 and she became so sick that I had her put down. In July 1999, I missed having a cat around so much that Andy and I decided to adopt a cat together from the pound. We had a home visit/interview with an Animal Control Officer and they determined that we were fit to take care of one of their cats.

When we went to the pound we planned to look for a 1-2 year old cat but we were smitten with a cream and white colored kitten. We also noticed a frisky, meowy 4-month old steel gray cat with faint black stripes. When we walked by his cage, he made a racket and stuck his paws between the door railings trying to grab at us. He was so animated that he caught our attention and we brought him out of his cage and he promptly jumped out of my arms and attempted to check out the surroundings on his own. We put him back in the cage and placed him second on our list of choices. We were #3 on the list of people who wanted the kitten so we were ultimately matched with the gray cat.

I brought him home to my apartment while Andy wasn't there and he hopped around the place checking everything out and meowing at me. I'd been told to try to keep him calm (he was neutered that day and given some shots) and confined to one or two rooms. Yeah, right! He was all over the place. Not only was he very active but he was very lovable once he got used to us (which didn't take long.) I wasn't used to a snuggly cat so it was neat but a little weird.

The first weekend he was at my apartment, we had to leave for awhile so we locked him in the kitchen. The "lock" consisted of a 4-ft sheet of plywood clipped over the opening between the kitchen and the carpeted dining room. Before we were even out the door, we heard the jingle of his collar tags and saw him laying on the wrong side of the plywood door giving himself a bath. Hmm... this cat was a force to be reckoned with!

He quickly turned into free-range kitty even when I wasn't at home and that didn't cause any problems like I was expecting (namely un-use of the litter box and use of the carpet and un-use of the scratching post and use of the furniture.)

We took a long time to decide on a name for him - some we considered were Oscar and Jerry but after watching him scale the plywood when he was still small and leap up to the peephole in my front door to knock a pencil out of it, we decided on Jumpin' Jack Flash. We called him Flash for short.

Andy and I would go away for the weekend a lot back then (mostly camping) and we would leave extra food and water for Flash and he'd be fine. When we arrived home from our first 4-day weekend, Flash didn't greet us at the door and we were instantly curious. I found him locked in the bedroom. You see, he would often climb on top of the door and go for a ride. Apparently when he jumped off this time, he kicked the door shut. He was fairly agile but, lacking opposable thumbs, he never got the hang of putting his kitty paws around the door knob to open it. Judging by what was in the room that should've been in the litter box, we think he locked himself in there the night that we left.

On another long weekend trip, we left more than enough food and water out for him (he usually didn't eat as much while we were gone and he always had a lot leftover.) He disagreed. We found his bowls empty and the cabinet door open with the 10-lb bag of cat food (3 layers thick of paper with a plastic-type layer on the outside) shredded on one side with a hole big enough for Flash's head to fit through. He created his own feeding trough.

When speaking of people who have passed, you often hear that either the person lived a long, full life and their passing was bittersweet or you hear that the person's life was cut short and they had so much life left to live and their death was nothing but bitter. I think Flash lived fully while he was here but at only 6 years old with no known health issues we really thought he had lots of life left to live. Had he lived longer, I'm sure he would've lived as fully as he always had - doing all sorts of crazy things for attention.

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