A while back I promised the story of Twobie and Archie, although it’s really not their story, it’s the story of the cats who came before them, their namesakes.
The story of Twobie…
When Twobie arrived last month, she became the second of two gray tabby cats born to us. The first was Goober. Goober, who we called “Goobie” was an unfortunate kitty. He was in the 3rd of Buggars litters, the litter she despised and refused to care for. I’m really not sure how any of them lived to maturity (one didn’t make it past a week) as Buggar rarely fed or looked after them. Perhaps, as a result of the neglect, Goobie was always sick.
He was so sick I kept expecting him to drop dead any day, but he lingered on. Finally, when it was clear he was very close to death’s door and was not recovering, I took him inside and nursed him back to health. Poor thing, he developed conjunctivitis in one eye and lost it.
(Later I learned from a friend the best treatment for conjunctivitis is to bathe the infected eye multiple times a day with salt water to kill the infection. Unfortunately, I tried everything but that.)
This was at a time when we had 16 cats, most of whom were Buggar’s kittens, and NO money. We could not afford expensive vet visits and were struggling to feed the cats we had. We had grown so attached to the older ones we never got around to taking them to the shelter for adoption. We tried many times to get Buggar fixed to stop the seemingly endless cycle of kittens, but she always got pregnant when it was supposed to be impossible for her to, and no one would work on her.
Hampered with only one eye, Goobie was apt to run into things, although he had a strong will to survive. He was about 8 months old, my little buddy, and I had kept him inside constantly but he began to mature, naturally, and kept insisting on going outside. We had already consulted a vet to get him neutered and address the eye issue (it needed to be sewn shut.) But the vet refused to work on him at all until he was a year old and his bones had mostly finished growing and could be neutered at the same time.
Sometimes I don’t think vets really understand animals at all. I certainly didn’t understand mouser cats (they have an “M” on their foreheads like bobcats, are avid hunters and geared to living outdoors) until I began living with them. Mouser cats are impossible to keep indoors. And Goobie, despite only having one eye, was a mouser.
One day I let him out and I never saw him again. For a long while we thought that because he couldn’t see well he probably got run over. Now I suspect he was stolen. At the time we were living in what was a small town ghetto…as I mentioned before, NO money. Two doors down was a house where a couple of meth addicts – and later I would discover – animal thieves and hoarders – lived. About a year ago their house, which looked more like a disease-infested, clutter-strewn shack, burned to the ground killing all the animals inside. A couple months ago the town’s new city manager finally did something about these reprobates and cleared out their latest shack of all the maltreated starved animals trapped inside.
I really have nothing good to say about these people. I’m certainly glad I no longer live anywhere near them. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were responsible for Goobie’s disappearance.
When I told H we had a second gray tabby, just like Goobie, he said we should call it “Twobie,” and that’s the story of how Twobie got her name.
The story of Archie’s name goes back much farther, back nearly 40 years to a small farm in the middle of Kansas.
I don’t remember where Archie came from, maybe from someone who had kittens and my mom decided we needed one. We always had cats, as far back as I can remember, but Archie was one of the first on the farm.
Archie was gray and white, the solid patterns of color, not striped. He was very friendly, despite the amount of roaming he would do once he got older.
We lived on a large patch of land, with 20 acres of pasture and 20 acres of timber and woods. It was here I learned to love nature: to dig worms, bait a hook and catch fish, pick mulberries in spring and pecans in fall, gather wildflowers from the edges of the fields and geodes from the creek, milk goats in the mornings before I hopped on the school bus and gather eggs from the chicken coop and wash them before I went to bed, and many other farm girl things.
When he matured, Archie roamed. Our farm wasn’t nearly big enough and, perhaps we didn’t have any – or enough – girls on the property to suit him. When he first began disappearing he would be gone for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t long before he would be gone for months. No matter how long he stayed away, he would always return hungry and attention seeking. He never grew wild and loved being petted.
One of my clearest memories of him was the day he returned after being gone THREE months. We had all given him up for dead, as this was the longest we had gone without seeing him. It seems like he showed up at the tail end of summer and, when I found him, he nearly was dead.
I yelled for Mom when I saw him. He was in bad shape. Archie was a long-haired cat and something had gotten him around the neck and essentially ripped his throat open. His entire neck and chest was a mass of matted fur, hanging flesh and blood.
I think Mom probably poured some iodine on him and left him alone. I vaguely recall him nibbling at a bit of food. But, for the next month, Archie mainly slept. He curled up in a box with some blankets in it and stayed close to the house while he healed. And, boy did he stink! I have never smelled anything like it and remember wondering how on earth an animal could be so wounded and smell so rotten and yet survive. But, he did. Cats truly are amazing.
That’s how our little Archie got his name, because he looks so much like a cat I once knew who lived a long, long, long time ago.
And, there you have it, the story of…