In 1991, my college roommate and I rented a house in the country, in a little town called Yorklyn in Delaware. It was huge, with a big yard and a horse farm in the back. This house, we soon found out, already had an occupant: a young brown tabby cat that knew how to climb under the back porch, into the basement, up the basement stairs and through the basement door that never did latch properly.
I met him outside the first time I stopped by to clean the house before we moved in. Then, there he was upstairs when I turned around from vacuuming on the second floor.
It was clear he wasn't going anywhere, so Vic, my roommate, and I decided to let him stay. We initiated him to the three cats he would be living with -- mine, Vesper, and hers, Sophie and Theo, by throwing them all together in the kitchen on move-in day. There was no hissing as I recall, and the only inconvenience was that the tabby -- who was not neutered -- occasionally tried to hump the other cats, even though only one was a girl.
I adopted him, neutered him, fixed the hernia the vet discovered in his belly and named him Barn Cat, Barney for short, as Vic and I were confident he had been born in a barn somewhere around there.
Barney got fat. Really fat, to the point where anyone who met him for the first time would say, "That's the fattest cat I've ever seen in my life!" A plumber in San Francisco really insulted him once when he asked me, "She pregnant?"
I moved that cat, along with Vesper, to another apartment in Delaware, then to apartments in North Carolina and Boston, with a quick few months in New Jersey one summer, and finally, out to San Francisco.
Barney was healthy until a few years ago, when I took him to the vet because I'd felt odd bumps on the back of his neck. Turned out he had gotten a shot somewhere along the way, for rabies or feline leukemia, probably, that had had a bad reaction and resulted in a tumor. Vaccine-associated sarcoma, it's called.
With the help of my sister and a friend, I paid to have the tumor removed and for the ensuing radiation. He lived for another three years -- one more than the doctors had predicted -- and had a high time lying in the sun on the porch in Noe Valley. You see, Barney wasn't just a cat, he was a personality, a presence. I think when it was time for him to be incarnated, God just happened to have a cat's body on hand. He could have been any animal, and was at home with dogs and cats alike.
He died two days before Thanksgiving.
It was a shitty year -- I'd lost my father, my cat, and some of my siblings were being real asswipes. But I didn't want to get another cat too soon. And actually, Vesper seemed to be just fine being the sole object of my affection.
Two weeks ago, I decided it was time. And into my small family I adopted a gray and white cat that had been on death row at Animal Care and Control. I named him Stosh, a Polish nickname for Stanislaw.
He is smart, affectionate, gets along fine with Vesper -- and, it turns out, he farts.
(In the second photo, Vesper is saying, "That stupid cat thinks his shit don't stink. Well, he's got another stink coming.")
When I first got Barney, he would fart too -- usually when I had just picked him up. I don't think he was used to being picked up, and he just kind of let loose sometimes.
With Stosh, I think it's because he's probably not accustomed to wet food.
The first time he did it, we were sitting on the couch. I didn't hear anything, but suddenly the SMELL! I laughed and he looked perplexed.
The next time it happened, we were at the vet for his first checkup. "He's gorgeous!" the vet was telling the person who was checking us out. So I lifted Stosh's carry bag up onto the counter to show her. And he farted again! I laughed again and told the girl the he must have farted. Judging by her look, I don't think she believed me.
But he does! Cats, not just dogs, do fart! Really, it wasn't me ...
Really, I ask you, how can you resist this face?