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"Shorts, Outtakes and Rants"

Most weeks I write a column for my paper; occasionally my daughter writes one. Usually they're focused at local issues, but every now and then I come up with one that I think Spearfish Lake Tales readers would find interesting, so I post them on the Spearfish Lake Tales Message Board. Since I've been neglecting "Shorts, Outtakes and Rants" recently, I decided to repost a few of them here, like this one. I hope you enjoy it! -- Wes

Remembering the Polekitty

February 11, 2016

My wife and I have always had cats. Simply speaking, we like having pets around, and our experience has been that cats take less maintenance and looking after than dogs. Besides, I like the graceful way most cats move even when they're being clumsy, and we have had a fair amount of that.

Our first cat, which we got as a kitten shortly after we got married almost forty years ago, was a long-haired but small for the breed Maine Coon, although he was actually a pretty big cat. We were driving him home, throwing around possible names; being an astronomical buff at the time most of mine were of some object in the sky. I had just thrown out the name "Polaris" when he said "Mew," and that settled it. Polaris he stayed for the rest of his life of, as I recall, about fifteen years.

Polaris proved to be well named. In fact, there were times I called him "Polaris, the feline missile." Of all the cats we've had over the years, and we have had many, he was the best jumper and liked the view from the heights much more than any of the others. How he got to some of the places he managed to get was and still is beyond me.

The bed in our first apartment was right in front of a window; it really was the only good place for it. We kept the drapes closed, but that didn't slow the Polekitty (as I often called him) down any. He would jump from the bed onto the window divider, which was only about an inch and a half or so wide -- he was a lot wider than it was by this time -- and from there up onto the curtain rod. He would sit up there at the top of the room checking things out in his catlike way until he got bored and decided to get down. No crawling down; he jumped -- after all, it was onto a bed.

The heck of it was that he would do this in the middle of the night as much as in the middle of the day, and at night he would land right between Kathy's and my sleeping heads. This was a rude way to be awakened to say the least, but after a while we reached the point where we could go right back to sleep.

In later years when we moved to different places, he was always one to explore the high places. I think he enjoyed the jumping down as much as anything, and we didn't think too much when he hit the floor with a WHUMP from six or eight feet.

I miss the Polekitty. He's been gone a long time now, but he was one to remember.

Our current senior cat, Loki, is actually one of Amanda's -- she collects cats as much as her parents do, and fortunately her husband likes cats, or at least is gentlemanly enough not to complain about them. Loki doesn't actually look much like Polaris -- he's a short-hair to begin with -- but if I don't watch myself I'll call him by the wrong name anyway.

Loki has never been much of a jumper or a high country cat, but he does like to get up on the bathroom counter and drink from the faucet if we leave a thin stream of water running. He's taught that little trick to other cats recently, so the first thing I have to do when I get home is to turn on the water for the cats, and I often have a line waiting their turn at the sink.

The thing is that Loki is seventeen years old, and he's had difficulty being able to jump up on the counter for some time. A year or two ago we started keeping a stool in front of the counter so he could make it up to the sink, but now he's having trouble making it up that high. I think I'm going to have to dream up and make some kind of a two-step stool so he can continue to enjoy this little quirk of his.

We like our cats, and we go out of our way to accommodate them. Maybe it's like some people say in that they do own us, but they've given us a lot of enjoyment over the years and I don't know what we would do without them.

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