"The Perryvale Puma"
We have shared our life with a number of really neat cats over the years, yet I have never been inspired to write memorials for them. For as though we loved them and mourned their loss, they were never family quite like the dogs. Take Out is a whole ‘nother story though.
Our first fall here in Perryvale we were out on a training run. Mark’s team was ahead of mine when he heard a noise in the bush. It was a very little grey and white kitten, miles from any houses, SCREAMING his head off. Mark was determined to rescue the little thing and ended up juggling 2 lbs of hissing, spitting fur. They finally sorted things out and the kitten rode home in Mark’s coat, occasionally meowing and causing every dog on Mark’s team to snap their head around looking for the source of the noise. “If he makes it home, he can stay”, pronounced Mark. He did and stay he did.
The cute little kitten, now named Take Out (all our cats are named after food – don’t ask, you don’t want to know – so Take Out seemed appropriate considering they way he came into our lives) grew … and grew … and grew. As an adult he weighed in at over 20 lbs. In fact, he grew so big that we had to replace the ‘cat door’ in our garage with a ‘small dog door’ last year.
People often ask what kind of cat lives in a dog yard as big as ours – the answer is a slightly neurotic or slightly crazy one – Take Out was crazy. He always put more faith in the strength of our stake out chains then I was comfortable with and was often seen grooming himself just out of reach of the dogs on the edge of the dog yard. I once caught him walking along the top bar of one of the kennels. The young dogs in the pen were trying their darnest to bounce him off and into the pen.
He figured every dog that we brought to the house was ‘cat friendly’ and had to make a lot of rushed trips under the deck when his assumptions turned out wrong.
Everyone that ever came here to visit has met Take Out – and probably left with his kitty paw prints all over their vehicles. He loved jumping up on cars and was a master at climbing the ladder of the dog truck so he could get up on the top of it and survey his kingdom. He was in truck boxes and any open vehicle door at ever opportunity. A few years back Mark was looking out the kitchen window while drinking his coffee and noticed the cat sitting on the hood of our Suburban. He looked again and realized it wasn’t the hood – it was the dashboard he was sitting on. Take Out had been trapped in it overnight.
Take Out's Life Quest was to find the perfect sleeping place – and to that end, he tested everything we ever put in the garage. From blankets, to boxes, to dogsleds, to 4 wheelers to dog crates to…I was continuously amazed by the weird sleeping spots he would pop out of when I went out to the garage in the morning.
Over the years, Take Out stories have piled up. He was always a character and always in trouble. Although we were often annoyed and exasperated with him, he had firmly wedged himself into our hearts.
Last week Mark and I were away. As we were making final preparations to leave, Take Out was very much in the middle of everything.
When we got home on Sunday, it wasn’t a huge surprise to not find him at home. He was often away for hours at a time on hunting missions (even though he was a lousy hunter – I once saw him get beat up by a squirrel. Honest!), but by late afternoon Mark commented on his absence. The next morning I phoned Barb to see if she had seen him over the week when she had been by feeding and looking after the dogs. She said she hadn’t seen him at all and actually thought something must have happened to him before we left that I had forgot to mention to her.
I talked to Anna, who was shoveling the dog yard and she reported him supervising her as she picked up our empty bottles for recycling on Saturday, but not seeing him after that.
It has now been over 10 days since anyone last remembers seeing him and it looks like he will not be coming home. Gristle, his lifelong partner and constant companion, is beside herself. Every time she sees me, she begins wailing at the top of her lungs. I’ve explained to her that I have no clue where her buddy could be. Mark and I have checked out all the sheds, outbuildings, the cabin, vehicles, etc, etc that we though he could have wormed his way into, but with no luck. Most likely one of his hunting missions turned bad and we will never know what really happened.
I used to joke that a bear could have walked through the middle of our yard and the dogs would have said nothing, but they insisted on reporting each of Take Out's departures and arrivals to the yard. It will be a long time before I quit hopefully glancing at his favorite path through the rock garden when the dog yard fires up.
We will miss the big goof – and we hope wherever he may be, he has finally found the perfect sleeping spot and is resting well.
My lovebird cats, Gristle and Take Out
I think the last in this series is my favorite photo of Gristle and Take Out.