Memories of that First Cat

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When I was a kid, I read The Hound of the Baskervilles and immediately became a “dog person.” I imagined becoming a famous writer who would live on an immense estate protected by supernatural and potentially unfriendly deer hounds.

Needles-Stairs-Xmas79My fiancée informed me I was going to become a “cat person.” Other than the expedient fact that she was a cat person, the practicalities of the matter were that large hounds don’t fit well in apartments. They need, if not moors, large yards.

So, about 30 years ago Needles became our cat because (a) a friend’s cat had a litter and the friend didn’t need more cats, and (b) the cat would prove one way or the other if I was “marriage material.” Needles got his name because he had sharp claws and, of all of our cats over the years, his temperament was probably the closest to the hound of the Baskervilles.

I could tell stories, but this is a family blog.

StockingsXMAS79Needles lived a long and adventurous life in Georgia, from Rome to Marietta to Smyrna to Norcross. When he crossed the rainbow bridge he was ancient. His final resting place is the farm where we now live just outside of Rome.

My wife likes to tell people that when Needles first arrived in our lives, I had a “what the hell do I do with that thing” kind of attitude. In my defense, I didn’t know nothing about no cats and didn’t know what they wanted or why they randomly freaked out and clawed the hell out of my arms. They’re possessed, I think, by random malevolences that haunt most neighborhoods.

Needles liked his blanket. He thought that no matter what infraction he committed (such as grabbing my ankle when I walked through a dark room), he was free and clear if he could just get back to that blanket. It was like home plate or a safe house.

Lesa and Needles in 1979

Lesa and Needles.

We had a deck at the Norcross town home that got so hot on sunny afternoons, we couldn’t walk out there in bare feet. Needles could lie out there for hours. Go figure.

By then I had learned that cats sleep 16 hours or more a day and thought (a) what a life, and (b) that at least they couldn’t jump out of dark shadows while they were asleep.

Bottom line, Needles was a hoot and somehow with him I passed the test and my fiancée and I were married in 1987 in a small ceremony in the living room of the friends who gave us our first cat.

My only regret is that saying “release the cats” doesn’t sound as cool as saying “release the hounds.”

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell learned enough from Needles, Black Kitty, Orange Kitty, Marlo, Duncan and Katy to write a novella with a cat as a major character: “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

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