We called him Tomas. He should have been Clint, Rocky or Wayne. He was a fighter, a true alley cat – a reincarnation of Thomas O’Malley from 1970s Disney classic “The Aristocats.”
When Tomas was nine, or a human 52, we took him to the pine tree paradise. He explored the garden, then the forest. First with trepidation, then with fervor. Stray dogs? No sweat. He could take on six at a time and emerge victorious. The bad-ass cats took him on to show who was boss. And Tomas would return bruised and lashed. But soon he became a top cat, the king of our street.
Yet inside the house, Tomas drove me mad. He’d drink out of the toilet bowl, the sink and the bathtub. Knock stuff off chest of drawers, leave orange hair on my pillow, vomit in the window runners and lick plastic bags until my ears could stand no more. He’d scratch at the door to come in and scratch to go out. Then to come in again, then to go out. He scorned leftovers. Fresh biscuits, please. And while you’re at, how about some tuna? And with the water. Not dry, and no cheap brands. Only La Campagnola.
Then things changed. After two years, we brought Tomas back to the city with us, now a senior citizen. He was slowing and letting things slide with the dogs and cats on our street, his street. No more roof climbing. Trees? Not a chance. In the city he slept all day. Not even La Campagnola could perk him up. He could barely walk. The vet was pessimistic. On his last night he tried to jump onto our bed to sleep in his favorite perch. But he fell to the floor. Thud! I lifted him into a corner, stroked him and said everything will be alright. Then he was gone.
My children cried and we all scratched our legs. Tomas had left us with a house full of fleas. A good exit, you might think, for an alley cat like Thomas O’Malley.