Quoted from Pecos:
I have recently lost my Gato. I put her out on New Year's Eve at 2:00 AM. When I went out at 4:00 AM to let her in, she was nowhere to be found. I haven't seen her since.
In honor of Gato's life and what she meant to me, I present to you:
A Gato Story
How a Black Cat Stole My Heart and Taught Me to Love
I am not a cat lover. I have good reasons for that. During my second year of college, my girlfriend, her room mate and I would meet each evening for dinner. Both were good cooks.
Before dinner, the room mate would feed the cat, the male long-hair yellow and white cat, Roscoe. The food that went into this evil creature was disgusting and smelled awful. What came out the other end smelled even worse. For some unknown reason, the cat litter box was placed next to the dinner table and next to where I sat. Guess when the cat decided it was time to use the litter box. Right, during the eating of my tasty home cooked meals. I hated that cat. It wasn't friendly and it ruined my dinners.
Several years later, my girlfriend bought me an Abyssinian cat. I never warmed up to the cat. It was always in the garbage and wasn't very friendly. My girlfriend got the cat.
Thirty some odd years later, I was gardening in my backyard when a black cat strolled into my yard and sat her butt down on the ground. It was curious, even interesting, but I thought nothing more of it at the time. It just sat there watching, eventually getting closer and closer and finally ONTO MY back porch. This cat had some nerve! I didn't WANT a cat so I completely ignored it - for three long months. There was no petting, no food and no water, no nothing. I wouldn't even look at her. If it had been a male, it would have been chased away immediately. Feral males are disgusting. They spray everywhere and, after Roscoe, I had bad vibes about male cats.
The cat would catch her own food and bring it back to my back porch to eat it. She officially 'moved in' and decided this was the place for her. After three months though, three months (!) of this strange relationship, I finally gave in and bought her a bag of cat food. That was a sad day in my life - imagine ME actually paying good money for cat food!
I called her 'Gato', the Spanish word for 'cat.' It stuck.
Gato, the year she decided to make me hers:
I taught her some tricks. Some were meant to keep here safe. She had to sit, wait and look at me at the sliding back door before she was allowed inside. I didn't want a cat under foot. I could hurt her. When in her cat bed, I would cover her with a 'blanky' and whisper. "Go to sleep Gato!" She would put her head under the blanky as if she was going to sleep. Then she got a Gato Goodie. I taught her to lean backwards and 'meow' when I would meow. I called this trick the 'back-breaker with report!' Of course, she got a Gato Goodie for such an awesome trick. I got an idea after hearing her on the roof. I put some food in the rafters and she would jump up to claim her prize.
In her later years, she was no longer able to perform such feats of gymnastics. When it was time to eat, I put her food in a dish and held it up. She would sit up and touch the dish with her paw. Then I would spread some food on the ground and she would sit up again before she was off to find the food on the ground. It wasn't exactly hunting for her food, but I think it was more fun for her to seek out some of the food than just having it handed to her. Most of the food ended up in her dish. I put the dish up on the window ledge where it was easier for her to get to instead of the rafters.
It's been more than fourteen years now since Gato plopped her butt on my landscaped yard. Gato was as good a cat as a cat could be. She was only allowed into my bedroom when I slept. For a while, she wouldn't pester me to try to get me up. She waited until I got up. She did all of her 'business' outdoors so there was no litter box and litter to buy. She was very healthy, saving me from expensive vet bills.
The last few years she has decided that she wanted to be fed three times a day, breakfast at 4:00 to 5:00 AM, lunch at 10:00 to 12:00 and dinner at 10:00 to 11:00 PM. She yowled, 100 decibel yowling! I finally learned to let her out when she wanted out.
Gato was part mystery and part miracle. Vets here in Tucson say that outdoor cats have a two year lifespan. I live only a block away from the Pantano wash and a lot of predators use this wash to travel. They often make their way into my neighborhood and back yard looking for food and water. I have seen skunks, raccoons, javalina, hawks coyotes and rattlesnakes. My neighbor's small dog was killed by a Red Hawk. So, it is a small miracle that she managed to live this long. She was totally bonded to me. She wouldn't go anywhere near another person or animal and she was a wonderful companion for an old bachelor who doesn't interact with a lot of people. How did she live so long? She must have more than 9 lives!
The last pictures I have of Gato:
I keep telling myself that nothing much will change in my life, but, of course, it will. I'm not ready for another pet - maybe someday, but there won't ever be another Gato. It's going to be lonely here at Pecos' Palatial Pinball Parlour. I will miss Gato, truly, and that is something for someone who didn't like cats.