On wednesday Jina and I learned that our cat Carroll had been hit and killed by a car on Hawthorne.
Two years ago we decided on a lark to go caroling through the neighborhood. It was a bone-chilly night, and we didn't get a lot of open doors. But at the end of the evening a black kitten came right up to us, mewling and fearless. And he was tiny, and without a collar on such a cold night. We picked him up, and checked the nearby houses to see if anyone knew of his owner.
At the time, we assumed it was a girl, so we named her "Carol". It seemed appropriate. When we later learned he was a strapping young man, we changed it to the Irish masculine name "Carroll." Pronouns for those who didn't know him well were always a problem.
We took him home, and he set about exploring the apartment like it was the most natural thing -- no hiding under chairs or running from people. While I went to get some cat food and temporary litter, he curled up on Jina's lap and promptly fell asleep. We were going out of town for Christmas for a few days, and a friend offered to take him in. When we came home again, she was having a party -- and guess who was the life of the party. Carroll, the tiny little kitten, was mixing it up at the party, playing and meeting people. His courage and easy going nature were astounding. Even the vet commented on his boisterousness as Carroll hunted him into the corner.
He was deep in our hearts from the first day, but we knew he couldn't stay long -- we needed to find his owner, and besides, our landlord strictly forbade cats in the apartment. But after postering, posting to websites, calling shelters, no owner came forward. And once he started sleeping curled up on our necks, kneading and purring, we knew we would do anything to find a way for him to stay. The seige to get our landlords to let us have a cat was hard fought, but we did it. The first time he ever met Carroll was when he was over fixing a socket. As he was kneeling down, Carroll jumped on his back and proceeded to make himself comfortable. Everybody knows how difficult it is to get up with a cat on your lap, but its a different story when the cat is on your back. Our other landlord was showing the upstairs apartment to potential renters this year, and just as she was telling them that pets were absolutely not allowed, Carroll strolled into the apartment right in front of her and started looking around as well.
Carroll get quickly into a large cat, but never lost his desire to play or to sleep on our necks. Once he was an indoor/outdoor cat he asserted himself as the top cat of the block, and it was a regular sight to come home to him and three other cats hanging out in our driveway. He had one friend who would wait for him outside of our door, and another named Triage that he would tussle with. These cats would often sneak into our house, but Carroll would never chase them away, even when they tucked into his food bowl. He was always exploring, and we would hear reports of him on roofs and in houses. Only a few days before he died he was just starting to climb trees -- a late bloomer. He would go for walks around the block with us, and would often try to follows us to work, leading to many a late arrival trying to get him to stay at home.
At home, Carroll wanted to play. All the time. He would bring his little mouse toys over to us, for us to throw. He and I would chase each other around the apartment. Jina could get him into a state of frenzied, panting exhaustion with just a piece of string. His favorite toy was a box I had carved holes into -- he would sit in it to let us know it was time to play. When really excited, he would charge into it and hide just his head in one of the holes. It was a joy to have him around to play with, and we always wanted to play with him more than we ever could.
He was a charismatic, patient and loving cat. He would let me carry him around in his "Carroll Throne", belly out and looking around. When Jina would smush her nose against his head, Carroll would calmly wait for her to finish. He would make a little gurgle noise whenever he landed from a tall jump, and had the loudest purr I have ever heard. He didn't like tuna fish or chicken, but enjoyed cantaloupe and loved youghurt... never pushing his way in, he would always wait for us to hand him the spoon to clean. And he was always waiting for us to come home, to play some more with him. We know he loved us, and we loved him too. He had a good life. We were looking forward to getting old with him, but we cherish the time we had with him. He was a fearless and curious guy, and we know we couldn't keep him away from the dangers of the outside world, but we could never keep him inside. Its incredibly painful to be without him, and I hope he is in a better place, filled with things to chase, necks to sleep on, and plenty of youghurt.