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Midian’s Tale

April 21, 2009
Midian in the Back Window

Midian in the Back Window

It is with great sadness that I tell my readers of the passing of my beloved cat Midian on February 28, 2009. He was 13 years, 7 months, and 10 days old when he became so ill that I had to have him put to sleep, on of all days, my 36th birthday. I am thankful that he was vibrant and playful up until just a month or so before his death and he only spent a couple of weeks really feeling ill as both I and his vets did whatever we could to help him to a possible recovery. Finally, it got to a point where his back legs stopped working properly, he could no longer sleep, and he was obviously in pain.

With human beings there is a whole set of rituals for those left behind that are set around saying goodbye and remembering a loved one’s life after their passing. With animals, that system doesn’t exist and if you’re like me, someone who often prefers the company of animals to people, you need a way to remember a pet’s well-lived life and focus on the joys they brought instead of the excruciating pain of their loss.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks telling stories of Midian’s life to my friends and family and digging through old photos of our adventures together. I knew that a part of my grieving process would have to be telling the story of Midian’s life. So I offer this up to you dear readers as a memorial for my friend, provocateur, protector, and ornery one. He is now and will always be truly missed.

In 1995, I was working at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground as a contractor doing secretarial work. My roommate Kelly and I were planning and saving for a move from Maryland to Alaska in about a year—it had always been a dream of mine. One day I came back from the bathroom to find a box on my desk with a little black kitten with big blue eyes peering out at me. It turns out the kitten had been making his rounds in the building, being passed from office to office. He had been born to a stray under the soils lab on base and the employees of the lab were working to find homes for all of the kittens and then they were going to get their mother spayed. They found homes for all of the kittens except one. No one wanted a black male kitten (FYI…black animals, both dogs and cats, are the last to be adopted at shelters). Some didn’t want him because he was black and thought he was bad luck. Some didn’t want him because he was male and males spray until you get them neutered.

I told the lab employees that I was planning a big move in about a year and I didn’t think I should adopt an animal at that time, although my co-worker somehow knew better. I went home that evening and I thought about that little black kitten all night. The next day I came in to work and by lunch time the kitten appeared on my desk again. He played and bounded around my desk and had so much fun batting my pen about. I couldn’t stand the thought that if he didn’t find a home by the end of the day, he was going to the pound. I called Kelly and told her I had a surprise. I didn’t even have to voice it. “You’re bringing home a cat!” she yelled through the phone with excitement. So that evening, little Midian etched his paw prints on my heart. I didn’t find Midian; Midian found me.

By the time I arrived home with my new charge in his cardboard box, Kelly had a litter box with fresh litter prepared for him and the house was flush with kitten food and toys and an overwhelming sense of excitement from everyone else who lived there. Kelly and I agreed to split Midian’s expenses (we were both strapped for cash) and he would be our cat. We stood in line at a PetSmart clinic to get him his first shots (Midi stood on my shoulder during the entire wait) and after he sprayed Kelly’s room the first time, we got a certificate from SNAP so that we could afford to get him neutered. When Kelly went to pick him up from the vet after the procedure, the entire staff came out to see who owned the “hell cat”. And with that, one of Midi’s nicknames was born. He acquired many more over the years, from Midi, Midi-Boy, and My Little Man to Pudd, Puddlin and Puddin’ Face (don’t ask). And he knew every one of them.

Midian came to live with us in early October that year and Kelly actually named him. She had always wanted a panther named Midian, but figured our black kitten was as close as she was ever going to get. Midian was the place where the monsters lived in Clive Barker’s movie Night Breed (or his book Cabal, if you’re more of a reader). In Night Breed the monsters were the good guys. The name Midian also has biblical connotations. Moses’ father-in-law was high priest at Midian and the Midianites worshiped a variety of gods. I don’t think I’ve ever known a name to fit a personality as well as Midian’s fit his.

He wasn’t an easy cat to love in the beginning. I had an elderly toy poodle named Bunny at that time and she required a lot of my attention. She was mostly deaf and blind at that point and the only time she seemed to be relaxed and content was when I was holding her. Midian didn’t respond well to that. He was incredibly jealous. During his teenage kitty time, if Kelly or I would try to pick him up or show him affection, he’d go for our eyes with his claws.

Jake and a Snoozing Midian
Jake and a Snoozing Midian

At that time, my house was filled with people. We averaged about six residents with many friends who swung by after work or on weekends to hang out on a regular basis. And despite the fact that Midi’s owners were two women, he liked the guys in the house best. So Kelly and I provided the food and litter service and play time while the guys provided warm laps.

Rich and Midian Napping

Rich and Midian Napping

I’d been a dog person up to that point in my life and adapting to loving Midian was a very different experience. I remember coming into the house once on one of those rare occasions during that time when no one was home. Midian, instead of greeting me, lashed out and tried to scratch me. I went thought the house mumbling and talking to myself aloud about how much I was not a cat person–that I was probably never going to be a cat person ’cause how could I possibly get to love a cat that tried to scratch me for fun. One of the house regulars came in at some point during the rant and I didn’t hear him. I accidentally encountered him with a boyish grin on his face as he listened to me rant about not being a cat person.

Midian's First Snow
Midian’s First Snow

I’m not sure who first thought to give him a black leather bracelet with spikes coming out of it for a kitten collar, but he loved it and wore it like the bad-ass he was until he outgrew it. We used to joke about getting his ear pierced (we didn’t, that’d be cruel) because it would fit Midi’s personality so well. Here’s a photo of him in that spiked collar experiencing his first snow. Midian was generally not a fan of snow, but curiosity made him want to check it out when it hit the ground.

In the springtime, he used to go outside with us and we wouldn’t let him out of our sight. I remember being in the backyard and Midian was laying in the alley sunning himself. Two kids came speeding down the alley on their bikes and Midian never moved. He stared down those kids and they zoomed around him. I don’t think he even blinked.

Once, two big dogs from the nearby park somehow got unleashed and they chased after Midi. Midian was so fast. He bolted up a tree and stopped just out of the dogs’ reach. When he realized he was safe he just sat there calmly looking down at them as they jumped and barked and generally freaked out a couple of feet below him. The owners got control of the dogs and it only took a step stool to get Midi out of the tree. He had really only gone up far enough to be just out of reach

Midi used to love to hide in the bathtub and pop out and launch a surprise attack on whomever was on the toilet or leaning over the sink with their back to him. It was a favorite game of his. The bathroom seemed to suffer a rash of bathtub hair trap losses during this time period. I think I must have purchased a dozen or more of them and I had become convinced some mischievous faery had been stealing them. As we packed to leave for Alaska in June of the following year, Kelly found a cache of stolen drain traps in the back of her closet. Midi had been stealing them and hiding them from us for months.

In June we left for Alaska. We packed the pickup with all of our belongings and carved a little niche with private space (a large cat carrier with food and water and the door propped open along with a small litter box on the floor) for Midian in the club cab. Bunny went to my parents to live out her last days. She loved them and they loved her and she had grown up with them. It was hard to leave her, but she would never have made the journey. She took a bad fall and my parents had to have her put to sleep while we were en route. (Another sad story for another day).

Midian thrived on the journey and he had more fun and was more mischievous than I could have ever imagined. It was on that journey that our bonding truly began.

We spent our first night on the road with relatives in Pennsylvania so our camping out didn’t begin until we spent the night in Indiana. We had a harness to put Midian into so that we could hook him to a long leash. We had not tested it on him before we left and when I fastened it around his fidgeting form, it seemed really tight. Kelly and I figured he’d be okay until we unpacked our camping gear and got the tent erected, then we’d figure out how to adjust it. By the time the tent was up, Midi had wriggled out of the too-tight harness. At that point, we knew that whole plan was hopeless. Midian was not the kind of cat that would lower himself to being leashed.

There was a small stream behind our tent bordered by some trees and Midi had a fabulous time romping about and stalking small creatures. At night, we zipped Midian in the tent with us. His small litter box from the truck came into the tent in case he needed it. Midi decided my sleeping bag was floofier than Kelly’s bag so his defacto nighttime sleeping spot was on top of my sleeping bag between my legs. The next morning we awoke and started to pack up camp. Midi, deciding he really didn’t want to get back in the truck, went back to the stream and playfully hid from us.

By the time the camp was packed up and we were ready to go, Midian was nowhere to be found. What to do? I stayed at the campsite and called for Midi while Kelly drove off to the local grocery to pick up a bag of ice for the cooler. We had a little search for him together when Kelly came back and shortly thereafter we found him playing by the stream and thinking this hide-and-seek game was the funnest thing ever. He delayed our departure by about two hours. We decided our next stop would be someplace we could buy him a collar with a bell on it so we’d have an easier time finding him. I have a vivid memory of picking out Midi’s first bright red collar with the bell in a grocery store. He had break-away collars with bells from that moment on and he geniunely loved his collars.

Midi's Favorite Place in the Truck
Midi’s Favorite Place in the Truck

Midian settled into traveling quite well. We had to keep a watch on him when he decided to visit us in the front seat because he often wanted to head down toward the driver’s legs. Whoever was in the passenger seat had to watch for that and redirect him to the passenger’s feet. He found several places that he liked in the cab of the truck. The floor on the passenger’s side was just one. If the road was fairly steady, he liked to sit on top of the cooler on the passenger’s side seat in the club cab. When he sat there, the window was at just the right height for him to look out and watch the world go by. He really seemed to enjoy that. If he wasn’t in either of those spots then he was in his carrier behind the driver’s seat. He often retreated there when he decided he’d had enough of both me and Kelly. It was his private spot and he knew it.

We stayed in Blue Mounds State Park in Wisconsin the next night and that became quite an adventure for all of us. We arrived very late because of our late departure in the morning so it was already dark. The park office was closed so we just found an empty campsite and figured we’d pay the fee on our way out the next morning. We let Midi out to explore a bit while we set up the tent then Kelly got to cooking our dinner (she was the main cook for the journey ’cause she’s just an awesome cook) and I set up the inside of our tent.

A rukus was emanating from one surrounding campsite after another and soon we discovered the culprits…raccoons. They were systematically raiding every campsite. Midian, ever our protector, chased two of them out of our campsite. He really quite enjoyed it bounding about looking all threatening. We finished our meal, packed our foodstuffs back into the truck to avoid repeat visitors and were getting ready to hit the sack when a third raccoon showed up. This raccoon was the largest, meanest, nastiest raccoon either of us had ever encountered and Midian wanted to take him on. For his own safety, we zipped Midian in the tent with us again that night. He was none to pleased with not being allowed to chase that creature out of his newly-acquired territory.

Well, in the dark, we must have spilled some of Midian’s dry cat food out of the truck accidentally and the next thing we knew there was a horrible melee outside the tent. The three raccoons were fighting over it and the big one won. We heard the other two slink past our tent yelping in defeat. I must say I’ve never been scared of raccoons, but that night Kelly and I slept with our hunting knives next to our pillows just in case that big one tried to slash its way into our tent.

The next night we ended up in Sioux City, South Dakota. The campground lost our reservation so we ended up camping directly next to their playground because the campground was completely full. We were right off of the highway surrounded by flat fields of tall grasses. I woke at dawn the following morning to Midian wailing. I got up, thinking that he was either hungry or thirsty only to find him perched atop the high-rise cap of the truck. I tried to placate him, but he was having none of it. Midian didn’t like Sioux City. He was bored and wanted to leave and was trying to rouse us to get us on the road again.

Later that morning we had both doors of the truck and the back hatch open while we packed up. Midi hopped into the truck as soon as we opened the doors. When everything was packed we started looking for him only to find out he was still in the truck waiting for us and ready to go. Kelly and I laughed so hard. Midi really didn’t like Sioux City and being a very intelligent cat, figured that if he got back in the truck, then the next time he got out he’d be someplace else.

We took the scenic route through the Badlands that day and ended up in one of my favorite places in the United States, the Black Hills. Having arrived there on July 3, we decided to spend two days in this campground so as to keep off of the roads on the July 4th holiday. The campground was really nice with pine trees and white sage growing wild everywhere. Midian approved. I think he loved the Black Hills as much as I do. There were all kinds of small critters to chase, trees to climb, and pine cones to bat about.

Midi took off exploring early the full day that we spent in that campground. When he came sauntering back in the afternoon he looked so happy. He hung around the campsite with us the rest of the evening and crashed cheerfully exhausted onto my sleeping bag that night.

Midian the Escapee is Caught in the Black Hills (photo by Kelly)
Midian the Escapee is Caught (photo by Kelly)

The next morning we packed up again, got Midian into the truck, and just as I was getting ready to close the driver’s side door to leave, he bolted. Without even thinking I took off after him. I ran flat out over pine cones, losing a sandal in the process without slowing down. Midian was so stunned to see me chasing after him that he stopped, dumbfounded, and I caught him. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I swooped him up. Kelly was laughing so hard when she took that photo of me carrying Midian back to the truck. You can barely see him clutched to my chest in the image. If you look closely, you can see I only have on the one Birkenstock.

We shut Midian in to his carrier so he couldn’t bolt again and then Kelly had to help me search for my other shoe. It had literally flown off of my foot in a wide arc while I was in hot pursuit and it took us about ten minutes to find it. Amazingly enough, running flat out over pine cones with a bare foot, I didn’t hurt myself.

The next few nights camping passed without much fanfare. We stayed in a horrible campsite behind a truckstop in Montana, then in a really nice place along the Salmon River in northern Idaho (Midi liked it there too, but not as much as the Black Hills), and then a bad-feeling crazy-Christian hot springs in Boise, Idaho.

When we reached La Grande, Oregon, Midi took off again. We had packed up everything that morning and couldn’t find him. Kelly and I both went looking for him along the hills that bordered the campsite, but we had no luck. The campground manager told us there were lots of mice in the hills so Midian was probably off enjoying himself. With everything packed back in the truck, we paid for another night and headed into the tiny town to find something to do. We saw a movie and had some lunch at a local drive-up restaurant and pulling back into the campsite, we found Midian lying were he’d last seen our tent erected. He looked very sad. There was nothing of us there and he thought we’d left him–for good.

We put him directly into his carrier with food and water and he didn’t protest once. He knew he’d been bad (this was the first time he’d delayed us so much that we had to stay an additional night somewhere) and he was grateful that we didn’t abandon him. I really think he had that fear for a few hours when he returned and there was no sign of us. We zipped him in the tent with us that night and in the morning he went right back into his carrier while we packed up to leave.

Midian was better behaved after La Grande. He didn’t run off and while he still went and explored, he stayed much closer to our campsites. Sometimes, we all have to learn a lesson and we were really glad he learned it before we headed onto the Alaska Highway and there were much larger and more dangerous things he could encounter.

Midi and Friend Stalking Bunnies in Seattle (photo by Kelly)
Midi and Friend Stalking Bunnies in Seattle (photo by Kelly)
Midian and His Friend in Seattle
Midian and His Friend in Seattle

We stayed in Seattle next on a ranch just outside the city that not only had horses, but lots of big bunny rabbits running around. Midian made a friend of another black cat at the campground and they had fun playing and stalking the rabbits together. You can just see the rabbits beyond the tree in the first photo. There was plenty to keep Midi entertained there while we saw some sights.

Signpost Jungle
Signpost Jungle

We crossed the border into Canada next and Midi did quite a lot of sitting on the cooler looking out the window. It was beautiful. We camped at Watson Lake in the Yukon a few days later and on our way to the campsite we put up a sign in the signpost jungle (I’ve fuzzed out our last names). Kelly painted that little representation of Midian on the sign.

When we arrived at our Watson Lake campsite and opened the truck door, Midian immediately bolted off into a nearby tree, scaled about 15 feet up the trunk and jumped over to a branch to catch the tail of a squirrel in his mouth. He dangled from the squirrel’s tail and before we could get to him, the squirrel’s tail came off and Midian landed perfectly on the ground with it in his mouth.

I had never heard a squirrel screech like that and I hope I never do again. Midian looked utterly pleased with himself, sauntered back over to our campsite, and plopped down proudly beside us while we went about setting up camp. I’ll never forget the speed he had bolting out of the truck or the way he looked dangling from that squirrel’s tail 15 feet above the ground.

When we made it to Anchorage, we camped for a few weeks then moved into an apartment. Midi adjusted pretty well to apartment living, but he never lost his daredevil streak. The apartment had those old-style push out windows and Midi thought it fun once to walk out onto the outside ledge in pursuit of a raven. From that window, the drop was 6 floors to the asphalt below. He made it back inside fine, but I made sure he never got out on that ledge again.

When the Alaskan cold started to set in, Midi started coughing. At first, Kelly and I both thought he had hairballs so we got him an over-the-counter hairball remedy, but it didn’t do any good. The coughing got worse so I took him to the vet. After a chest x-ray that resulted in Midi being brought back into the exam room with his head and front paws wrapped in a towel (he was never a good patient), he was diagnosed with asthma. For a cat, being diagnosed with asthma that young (1 1/2) is unusual. Most cats don’t develop asthma until after their second birthday. Fortunately, he responded well to the prednisone treatment and he was on and off of it throughout his life.

Later that year, a violent man ended up in our apartment (I won’t go into details on who or how), and Midian, forever the protector who never passed up an opportunity to remind those who entered that this was his territory, scratched him. Midian was an excellent judge of character, but he was also an equal-opportunity scratcher. I was really the only one who could tell the difference between a normal bait and scratch and one that signified that the scratchee was not a good person. This was a not-a-good-person scratch.

The violent man lunged at Midi screaming that he would kill him for scratching him. He meant it. Midi, always being fast, jumped and dodged Mr. Violent and found a place to hide. And with roles reversing for the first time, I became Midian’s protector as I stepped in between him and his attacker. I suffered a hand-print bruise on my upper arm and several other bruises to my breast and torso from being pushed and manhandled until I got to the phone and dialed 911. The threat of police arriving helped to get Mr. Violent out of the apartment, but it didn’t stop him from trying to get back in by breaking the glass to a fire extinguisher in the hallway and using the extinguisher as a battering ram to try to break down the door. The threat of another call to the police stopped him again and he was coaxed out of the building.

Midian was okay and my bruises healed and after that incident, Midi started crawling up on my chest to lay down and purr. He started letting me gently and hypnotically pet his little nose with my finger from tip to forehead until he relaxed and purred himself to sleep. I think it was a turning point in our relationship. It was the point at which Midi realized that I loved him and would protect him despite his “difficult” personality. Some people would say that cats don’t understand things like that and to those people I say…you didn’t know my Midian.

One late night in April, Midian started acting strangely. He was crying and definitely agitated and he kept looking at me and appealing to me with his little chirps. There was nothing I could do to soothe him. A few minutes later the ground started to shake. The whole world seemed to be silent yet in motion. Things fell off shelves, window panes shook, and Midian sidled up close to me. Then it was over and a cacophony of car alarms rent through the night air. Midian had experienced his first earthquake and since our building was on a fault line (the front door was on the 2nd floor and the back door was in the basement), it swayed and rocked quite a bit despite the fact that the epicenter of the 4.3 quake was located out in Cook Inlet. Midian knew the quake was coming long before the shifting started. It took a good couple of hours afterward to calm him down.

At the end of a year in Anchorage, I returned to Maryland to finish my education and when Kelly and I talked about it, we knew Midian should return with me. Kelly was Midi’s play friend, but she didn’t experience the cuddle-up-and-purr with him that I did. Between that and the painfully dry Alaskan winters that exacerbated Midi’s asthma, and my ever-building bond with him, Kelly, as much as she didn’t want to, let Midian go.

During the drive from Anchorage to Baltimore, Midian got to know my father a bit (Dad insisted on flying up and driving back with me even though I desperately wanted to make the drive alone with only Midi to keep me company). My father is as big an animal lover as I am, but he didn’t quite “get” Midian and often referred to him as, “that cat of yours.”

Midian in the Grass at My Parent's House
Midian in the Grass at My Parent’s House

The trip was fairly fast and uneventful. Mostly we just drove…almost 6000 miles in 5 travel days. Midian and I moved into a basement apartment in my parent’s house so I could go back to school full-time without a lot of expenses. Midi loved it there. My parent’s house was seated on 3 1/2 acres backed by woods and a little stream. It was a complete cat playground with fallen trees and baby rabbits. There were lots of squirrels, shrews, mice, and chipmunks to chase and catch and bring back to me as presents. Midian often like to dash back inside when you opened the door before you realized he was carrying something in his mouth. Then he’d let it go inside with great delight and I’d spend hours trying to trap a poor terrified chipmunk. Do any of you know how difficult it is for a human to catch a chipmunk in the house?! I learned that a Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy suggestion made the most sense… “A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” It certainly helped to catch a chipmunk.

Midian and the Fallen Arch
Midian and the Fallen Arch

Midian, being my familiar, but not quite in the Pyewacket sense of the word in that I never channeled spells through him, loved being able to be outdoors. He was not, however, an outdoor cat in that he came in and out of the house regularly and slept inside with me except on the rare moonless summer evening when he, being a black cat, could disappear into the darkness. That made it all the easier for him to explore and stalk anonymously.

Midian on the Prowl
Midian on the Prowl

That did not mean that I didn’t worry about him endlessly and I put a protection charm on the bell on his collar to help keep him safe. That bell came in handy for me as well. Midian loved to bound up and attack your legs playfully from behind whenever you were walking outside. I made a game of it with him. I’d hear that bell bounding toward my back and just when Midi got close I’d spin around and face him and he’d quickly take on a little nonchalant swagger like he was saying, “What? Me? Pounce on you? Nah…How dare you think I’d even consider it?” He’d do it over and over again hoping to get a good pounce in without me noticing and each time I’d turn around in the nick of time and he’d feign innocence.

Midian Sunning Himself
Midian Sunning Himself

Midian often stayed near the house when he was outside. He loved lying under the deck on the picnic table or baking himself on the patio bricks on a sunny day. He loved going for walks with me around the property even more. In fact, I think those walks with me were his favorite things. It was like he got to share his explorations with his favorite person.

Midi Snoozing

Midi Snoozing

I started learning to garden and Midian liked to go out with me whenever I would tend to it. Part of the garden was a container herb garden (look behind Midian in the above photo and you can see part of it). I would always go out to the container garden after I got home from work. It was part of my decompression time. One windy day, my Dad had let Midian out before I got home and when I went out to check on my container garden several of the planters had been blown sideways off of the bench they sat upon. Lying on the ground, at the very end of the bench was Midi, passed out, with his head stuck in a fallen catnip plant. I laughed so hard. He heard me, lifted his head out of the plant to look at me, and made the cutest happy noise. Then he put his head back in the catnip and went back to sleep. That’s my little man!

When Midian was inside and he’d go to the door and meow to go outside on his own, I made him go through a little lovey ritual. To be allowed out, he had to let me pick him up, give him a little squeeze, and a few kisses on the head before I’d put him back down and open the door. And while he protested at first and showed me a feigned annoyance, he got used to it and would chirp back at me when I cuddled him and told him when he needed to come back inside. We could have full back-and-forth conversations. Most people who witnessed this could hardly believe it. Midi was always very vocal and you could tell from the differing inflections in his voice that he was, indeed, communicating with me. By the end of his life I understood what every one of his little sounds and inflections meant.

"You are not my favorite person right now."

"You are so not my favorite person right now."

Sometimes, there were trials and tribulations associated with Midi’s excursions. One day while playing in the woods behind the house, Midi encountered a curious black and white creature and being the inquisitive cat that he was, he strayed a little too close for that creature’s comfort. I smelled him long before I ever saw him and boy did he wreak of skunk. So I got the blood-letting pleasure of not only bathing Midian, but bathing him with shampoo then tomato juice then shampoo again. Midi was not pleased.

Midian also made some unusual friends on his excursions.  One night, when he was out, I started hearing an awful sound.  It sounded like ababy being tortured…screeching and yowling.  I grabbed the flashlight by the door and headed outside calling Midian’s name.  I heard an unmistakable Midian noise and followed it.  As my flashlight panned the yard it illuminated an almost-unbelievable sight–Midian and a fox sharing a meal of a bird.  Seriously.  They were sharing the bird.  Not fighting over it…sharing…  And both of them looked completely content.  Midian was such a bad ass that he’d made friends with an animal that would typically have been his natural enemy.

I learned not to let those screeching fox sounds bother me.  After all, Midian was just one of the pack.

Kelly and Midian
Kelly and Midian

Kelly came to visit during the holidays about two years after our parting and Midian couldn’t help but remember her and play rough with her again. Although he did supply her with the scratch, hiss, I’m-pissed-what-happened-to-you sequence as soon as she arrived. Notice how carefully and sneakily Kelly is trying to get a stroke in after she’d been allowed to scooch up next to him. Midian definitely got his sneaky streak from her.

Midi also got to know my parents during this time. He’d cry at my apartment door to go upstairs at least once a day where my father would spoil him with a slice of lunch meat–honey ham being his absolute favorite. As much as my father used to call him “your cat”, Dad fell in love with Midian, but refused to admit it. My mother, on the other hand, who is definitely not an animal person, did her best to steer clear of Midi. And both of them were afraid to ever pet him. Midi liked to sprawl near people looking all cute to tempt them to pet him and when they reached over a hand he’d grab hold. It was Midi’s attempt at play, but, thanks to Kelly, he’d learned to play rough. Over the years I was the only one who could play with him and when he got excited and started getting rough I’d have to stop playing and repeat, “easy…eeeeaaasssyyyy…, ” until he eased up and we could play again without my ending up full of bloody scratches.

Occasionally, Midian would surprise my parents. One day, when I was away on a camping trip with friends, Midian curled up on my mother’s lap. She was scared to touch him and didn’t move for over an hour until Midi decided he’d had the closeness he needed and left her lap to find a sunny spot.

Midi in the Sunshine
Midi in the Sunshine
"Take Me!"

"Take Me!"

My parents were always great about taking care of Midian when I went traveling. I was never gone for more than two weeks, and my Dad spoiled him rotten while I was gone. Still, whenever I’d be packing to go somewhere, Midian tried to stow away in my luggage. And if he was found out, he’d make sure that suitcase smelled like him so every other animal it encountered would know they should keep their paws off. I think he rubbed his little face over every inch of my luggage. It’s a good thing they don’t test for kitty pheromones with those wands at the airport.

My mother never got new furniture while Midi lived in her house and I don’t think she ever got over the fact that he shredded the plastic pool table cover. Thankfully, he never hurt the felt except for the fact that he left his hair all over it. See, Midian loved that crinkle plastic sound and the cover made that sound when it wrinkled. It’s the same sound that the plastic safety ring around the sour cream container makes when you chew on it or bat it about. There were many times when I caught Midian delicately removing that ring from the kitchen garbage can without disturbing anything else that was in there. I’d find it later covered in teeth marks hidden in some little nook . He didn’t eat it, he just liked to hear the sound when he chewed it. He couldn’t get enough of that sound whether it came in the form of thick plastic bags, plastic sour cream rings, or pool table covers.

Midian on the Pool Table in Mid-Talk

Midian on the Pool Table in Mid-Talk

To the end of his life, I was the only one he’d permit to pick him up and he’d often come to me when I came home and want to be picked up–but he never wanted it to look like he wanted me to pick him up.

To be continued…  This post will be added to when I am able to detail the last few years of Midian’s life, but I felt the need for what is already written about my amazing little man to be out there…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Cenire permalink
    August 18, 2009 2:36 am

    Hi!

    I totally randomly stumbled across your blog and was reading your post here on Midian. Beautiful stories to remember a beautiful friend! I’ve been laughing and crying – it’s been a really great read for me. I’m sorry you’ve lost such a good friend, but I like the way your memories of him will keep him with you in your heart.

  2. kitsune permalink
    April 1, 2010 10:34 am

    What a lovely tribute to your cat. He sounds like an incredible companion. I’ve sat by a lot of animal passings as a vet technician and I can tell you they know, understand and accept completely what is going on and their journey to the otherworlds. It’s not easy to let them go and grief is a careful and honored process. Felines are some incredible gift to us I think. They endure pain and suffering to incredible amounts and love so completely it’s almost unbelievable. My two cats have, without a doubt, gotten me through two military deployments and a load of other emotionally stressful times. I know when they go the grief will be immense.
    I always say to people ” If you do this right life, you get to come back as a cat.”
    healing and blessings to you friend. Thanks for stumbling across my blog.

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