I came to the sudden realization the other day that this month will be the fortieth anniversary of the day my first show cat came into my life. The 23rd kind of sticks in my mind, as well. I think this is the day he was born but I don’t have that written down anywhere, just in my faulty memory.
|Nile and Gunnar, my German Shep/Lab mix|
He was born a barn cat, little Demetrius. That tiny blue kitten with a very long name. Nile was his mother. She was just the sweetest black cat you could ever imagine. We’d found her a short time after we moved into our first house in the country. She emerged from the culvert along the gravel road, an old flea collar securely fastened around her neck and her right front leg. We cut it off and washed up her wound but it had been there so long that a good amount of scar tissue had formed around it. She walked with her “elbow” pointing out the rest of her life but seemed happy enough to have a family.
Back then we weren’t allowed to have pets inside the house, except for my mom’s Siamese, that is. Oh, and my fish. Not knowing any better we let Nile have kittens to fill up our acreage and she was a good mom. Unfortunately the neighbor’s German Shepard began killing Nile’s kittens one by one. Finally one day little Demetrius was the only one left. Since he was mine, unofficially, I swept him up and took him into work with me.
You see I’d been working as the part time kennel person for a local veterinarian. He was new to the area having just moved from California. He’d bought the practice from a retiring veterinarian. But he wasn’t new to Iowa, he’d actually grown up here and graduated from Iowa State University. I learned early on that he was a cat-lover – and a sucker for a sob story.
I walked in through the front door of the clinic with the crying kitten and begged the doctor to take him in. He had inherited the cat that lived at the clinic. But that cat wasn’t very social so I convinced him that he needed Demetrius. He agreed without much thought. I could tell that our morning receptionist wasn’t so happy about the deal but what could she do?
Well it didn’t take long before he grew into a new name, Demon. They said they’d shortened it because the clients couldn’t remember Demetrius but I could tell there was more. Seems Demon had taken to climbing up clients’ legs to get to their shoulders. I’d always carried him around on my shoulders so I guess it was my fault J. As soon as he was big enough Demon lost his front claws.
For a time after that he’d stand beside people and just scream at them until they either left or picked him up. His name grew with him. Soon he became Screamin’ Demon.
But that wasn’t good enough. He learned how to climb up on people using only his back claws! He was a determined little cuss and I loved him so much. Eventually he lost his back claws too. But by then he’d grown big enough that he could jump up on my shoulders. Doctor told me not to let him, but when we were back in the kennel room by ourselves he rode on my shoulders all the time.
He soon learned of new ways to irritate the morning receptionist. One day when his least favorite receptionist was working he decided to take a nap on top of the patient files. She was mad enough at him for getting in her way but when he finally decided she’d had enough he “christened” the files in one box in his own aromatic way and left. He was banned to the kennel room for a week after that. (And Doctor’s son told me recently that was the first time he’d ever heard such curse words!)
But the clients all loved that boy and asked why he wasn’t out. So he got a reprieve.
Demon knew how to push his luck though. One of his biggest fans was a woman who had beloved cats of her own. She’d come in to buy food or meds for her cats and sit down to talk with Demon. Almost invariably he’d nip her hand and she’d squeal then laugh. But one day he bit too hard and the receptionist banned him to the back rooms again.
I think she more reasons though. I heard that they’d been finding little piles of turds in strategic places all around the clinic. Most were found around the reception area. Do you think he was sending her a message?
When Demon was almost 2 years old the other receptionist told me about something called cat shows. I’d never heard of them before but she had Persians and showed them once in awhile. Turns out the Iowa State Fair was going to hold their first ever cat show and the afternoon receptionist thought we should take Demon. He was used to being around other people and their pets so he surely would be able to handle the environment.
Next time I’ll tell you all about that experience and maybe add some pictures as I find them. Unfortunately I was using a 110 Instamatic back then and didn’t take very good pictures so there aren’t many to find.