An Ode to Duke

I was going to enter a cat story contest Purina is hosting, but they only give me 600 characters (that includes spaces) to tell the story. I can't make it happen. I have too much to say. So I'm posting here instead.

Safety Cat

First, I should mention Lenore, our first cat. We call her the Spawn of Satan. She was evil in cat form. She attacked us out of nowhere, and even after J threw her against a wall once (literally), she came running back to attack again. She was EVIL.

We had her for 2 years before I couldn't take anymore. J would have stopped after 1 year. There's more, but I'll leave it for now. We turned her over to the local Humane Society on my birthday, 2004. J proposed to me the same day and felt so guilty. It all worked out in the end.

We got married on July 23, 2005. J left for Basic Training on August 19, 2005. I brought home Duke on August 24, 2005.

Duke obviously loved people. He was also already neutered and declawed when they found him, making his adoption price pretty cheap. He was mostly grown, 1 1/2 to 2 years, when I got him. He was fat and lazy. That checked off all the items on my list.

Duke had been found and turned in to the Humane Society as a stray, but he was already neutered and declawed when found, meaning he was owned previously. J and I have since come to some conclusions about his previous owners. Let me explain...

When I adopted Duke, I was commuting to work, and working full time. He didn't like me leaving. I could hear him crying when I left. I don't know if he cried all day, but he cried when I left. He also had an issue with men, which we discovered when J came home from AIT for Christmas. Duke would flinch and duck his head if J raised his voice at all, even in a fun, positive way.

So, we're pretty sure Duke formed a relationship with a woman or women, and was abused (i.e. hit on the head) by a man or men. However, after some love and attention, and patience, Duke learned to love men. In fact, his favorite cat sitter in Kansas was a guy. He LOVES Justin.

So, about my cat, and why I love him. He's a snuggler. He loves people, greets them at the door, and if he sits next to you/on you, you know he likes you. If he starts grooming your hair, he thinks you are part of his family. He's also super patient with kids. This was a worry after having Lenore. I would never have let little kids near her, but we had my sister, bro-in-law, and nieces visit after getting Duke. He was amazing. He let Carrin play doctor on him for 10 minutes before letting out a weird kitty growl to let us know he was done. Never so much as a bite (even though he gives me "love bites" all the time). He's shown the same patience with every little kid that is old enough to pet him. Attention is all he needs. He pretty much ignores babies.

I remember at least one occasion, on the rare occasions that I cry (yes, they are rarer than you may think), when Duke would come to me and lick my tears. Yes, they are salty, but he doesn't always like salty food. He also tends to snuggle me more when I'm sick or migrainey. He just knows.

Finally, there's the dog. Duke hated it when we brought him home. He hid upstairs for months. The first few weeks, I had to bring him downstairs just to eat. That's saying a lot for a fat cat that's obsessed with food. Over time, a few months, he learned to put up with the dog. Now, when I come home with pup after we've been away a while (like if Rem stays at the kennel while we travel), he has to have a minute to sniff the dog and make sure everything is OK with him. As much as Duke would never admit it, I think he loves his brother dog.

There is so much more I can say about my cat. I love him to pieces. The past year has been hard on me, dealing with his Feline Leukemia and the consequences of that. But he is healthy right now, and lovey. He seems more playful than ever after we started his prescription food (for urinary tract health), and I often find his favorite toys (yellow mouse and frog) have moved while I've been gone. Especially when Rem and I go for our morning walks/runs and Duke has the house to himself. It's funny, but he likes to take his toys into our bathroom to play. Maybe he's anticipating the drink from the bathtub faucet that he'll get when I return (which he cries for). Duke will race us into the bathroom to get his drink.

Recently, I've stopped filling a separate bowl of water for Duke. He drinks more from the dog bowl, probably because it gets filled more often, and he likes fresh water. But, just that he's willing to drink from the same bowl as the dog means a lot to me. He has accepted Remy as part of our family. He has included him with the rest of us.

OK, one last thing. We sometimes call him the Duke of Flop. He has this habit of flopping over, not laying but flopping over, onto his side. It's to give you his belly, like a submissive dog. He wants belly rubs. Like a dog. He also tends to headbutt things when he wants love. He'll headbutt the bathtub and it doesn't even phase him. Whatever is in front of him when he wants love, he headbutts. I love that. When I want to show that I love him, I bonk heads with him.

He still annoys me with this noisy baths, his drooliness, and his paw on my face in the middle of the night, but I love this cat to pieces. He is my kitty, my first kid, and I wouldn't trade him for the world. 


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