In loving memory of Mistoff, June 1991 – January 19, 2007
It was the summer of 1991. Two kittens, stranded on the roadside next to their mother who lay dead after being hit by a car, are saved by a sweet bunch of college girls living in an apartment nearby. These two kittens were freakishly frightened of everything, and I don’t blame them. They hid under the bed or couch only to come out for food, and only when no one was in the room. It was near impossible to pick them up and hold them, but when you managed to do so; they were small enough to fit in one hand. A black one in one hand, a black/grey/white mix in the other; twin brother and sister.
No Pets Allowed. That is what it said in my friends’ lease agreement; but not in mine. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be a pet owner right out of college, but I have always loved cats. It didn’t take much urging from my girlfriend, whom I planned on marrying someday, to convince me to take them in. So I did.
In hindsight, it didn’t really take much time to get these two critters to come around and become the most loving and friendly cats you could ever know. I spent a lot of time playing and hanging out with them. My favorite way to relax was to lay on the couch to watch TV and setup a parking lot of cats on top of me. The devil and the cherub; Mr. Mistoffelees and Angel.
That is just the first “cat story” I have come to know first hand that I love to retell. I have dozens, if not a hundred, of cat stories. I recently came to realize that my 9 year daughter has known them for more than half of their lives. Mistoff, or Stoffy, as he became to be known, really took to my daughter, especially after I trained the cats to stop sleeping with my wife and I. (that’s a cat story right there) So, of course, Mistoff found a welcoming and warm bed with my daughter and they have become inseparable. Mistoff actually follows her to the bathroom in the morning, and back again to get dressed.
I started retelling my cat stories to my kids when they were very young, and it has become an absolute favorite of theirs. It is amazing that these cat stories hold their attention so well. The kids will actually stop what they are doing, sit and get comfy, look up at me with bright wide eyes and then say, “Ok, Dad, tell us a cat story!”
I love telling them and it shows. I get very excited and animated when I tell them. As for the material… well, they are cats… they make that easy for me.
If you have ever owned a cat, you must know of the phenomenon where you will hear a noise, often like a “crash”, in the other room, but upon inspection you find that absolutely nothing is out of place. Once in a while, you might see a cat walking out of the room as if taking a leisurely walk in a park and regarding you as if you don’t even exist.
Laying on the couch, watching TV… no, not this time; I’m not fooled. I know very well that if I get up off my comfy couch to see what happened in my apartment bedroom that I would find nothing except two cats sleeping on my bed. I am going to finish watching my show.
… I’m not going to get up…
FINE! I couldn’t take ignoring a loud strange noise anymore. But, I promise you, I won’t be surprised.
I was wrong. There, sitting on the window sill in my bedroom was Mistoff. When I walked in, he turned with a jerk to stare at me with the biggest eyes I had ever seen. Then he jerked back and looked down, and out, the window. That’s when I noticed the window screen was missing. I stood frozen in the doorway. He looked back up at me, then back down out the window. Up at me… down out the window.
It finally struck me that Angel wasn’t there. I rushed over to grab him before he fell out. With my heart pounding, I looked out the window expecting the worst. But there she was, 3 stories below. Sitting there, not moving, but sitting. And sitting on the window screen. I had to go out the front of my apartment and run around the entire building, the whole way hoping that she was still there. She was, and she was scared, but otherwise she seemed fine. Not knowing feline first aid, I carefully picked her up, watching to see if she was in any pain. The only thing I could find wrong was a scrape on her chin.
So what happened? Is it true cats always land on their feet; and is it also true that they know how to form a parachute with their bodies? I imagine that what truly happened was an insect flew onto the screen that Angel just couldn’t resist. Whether she was just climbing up the screen to get it, or launching herself from the floor, I will never know. But I picture her surfing the screen the whole way down. She obviously had the right instincts, whatever they were.
We called ahead to the vet and off we went; there is no way she can just be fine after that. In the car, in the face of near panic concern, my fiance and I got to joking about what might have happened and what Mistoff was doing. Was he looking at me like that because he was in utter shock and was trying to tell me his sister fell out the window? Or, was he looking at me like, “I swear, I didn’t push her, she did this all by herself!”
At the vet, the doc walks into the very crowded waiting room and asks in a very loud voice, “Is this the cat that fell 3 stories out a window?” The whole room *gasps*. Ugh. “…yes…” I was somewhat embarrassed, like I could let this happen. People all came over to check her out and were amazed. The doc diagnosed her with… you guess it, a scrape on her chin.
We said Angel just lost the first of her nine lives and that she only had eight left… who would have known it turns out that she has, like, 20, and counting??? (But I tell ya, it makes for a string hilarious cat stories; much funnier, and less scary than this one)
Of course, the first thing the cats did when we got back was to go back to the window sill again. After rigging the screen in the best I could, I told Angel to leave the bugs alone and save the screen surfing for someone else*. But, as I looked over at Mistoff, I could almost see a miniature devil apparition floating above him, jeering him on… ‘come on, let’s go push her out again!’
There are so many more stories, the leash story, the refrigerator story, the fish tank story, Stoffy’s patio screen surfing story*, the Macy’s bag story… hundreds I tell you. I have told them over and over to the point that my daughter has written cat adventure stories based on my tales.
One time I came across Mistoff sitting in the hallway staring into the spare bedroom. He was probably around 2 years old at the time. I decided to stop and see what he might be looking at, but I wasn’t sure because the door was only open about 5 inches wide.
He then stood up and walked slowly towards the door and gently started to poke his head into the room. (what could possibly be in there?) But as soon as his whiskers touched the door and the jam, he backed right up to his sitting position.
OK, now I’m really curious, but you can’t get this kind of entertainment on the Internet. (at least not in 1993) Then he started that cat running start, about to pounce, balancing bob, thing. (if you’re not a cat owner, they slowly start to balance back and forth on their hind legs like a tennis player about to receive a serve) He must be going after something…! I’m fixed with excitement!
He then leaps forward, but not to pounce into the room; rather, he leaped forward, tucked his head and did a forward roll, flopping not so gently onto his back and then popped back up on all fours in the bedroom in a tense, ready to run position. He checked left… he checked right… then, he just relaxed and strolled into the room like nothing happened.
I have been the most fortunate person in world to have these two cats, and I know it. Truly.
So many stories, together, make up wonderful, vivid memories. Ask me sometime, and I would be happy to tell you one.