Friday, March 8, 2013

in honor of Tippy, the garage cat

I was raised to never name a barn cat.  Clear and simple.  You can feed them, try to catch and tame them but never give them a name.  Barn cats don't usually live more than a year or two, so my dad's advice made sense.

Its not that we named Tippy, not exactly.  It was the neighbor who brought him home after he climbed up under the hood of her car and caught a ride to a nearby town.  "Here's your kitten, we named him Tippy.  He sure is a lucky cat."

More than a little scared Tippy 'the lucky cat' got extra attention from then on.  He grew into a beautiful grey cat, his tail tipped with white.  Soon just about everyone on our corner of Apple River knew his name.

Miss Sally was none to pleased when Tippy grew bold enough to visit her yard, a block away, to lounge under her bird feeders.  I remember how he stretched out, his tail flicking in the air as he watched and waited.  The church ladies were none to pleased either when Tippy and his momma and siblings hung around the kitchen door on Swiss Steak Supper night.  Cats will be cats after all.  Tippy was always a friendly cat.

Ethan and Tippy
When it was time to move, Momma cat and Tippy's siblings were farmed out to new homes. Tippy was loaded in the pet carrier for the 6 hour drive to Spirit Lake.  He's Ethan's cat, we don't want to move without him, plus he's a great mouser!  When we arrived at our new home we were afraid he'd disappear so we tried to keep him locked in the garage for a couple of days.  We needn't have worried, Tippy always made his way home in time for dinner.

Soon Tippy was making the rounds in our cul-de-sac.  One day he followed us about 1/2 mile down town to Spenser's Underground.  You have no idea how hard it is to walk home carrying a cat who would much rather be on his own, but we were afraid he'd get lost.  What were we thinking?!  Tippy had it made, as far as I was concerned his mission was simple - keep the mice away -and he did so like a champ.  (This is why I like 'garage cats')

One more move in 2010, another annoyed neighbor, and here we are...I thought he was done for last winter when he disappeared during both of the blizzards, but as soon as the wind died down he reappeared - ready for food and some attention.

Tippy was territorial, there would be nights I'd hear him duking it out with another cat in the neighborhood.  After one of his fights last summer he came home with a chewed up ear, it gave him a  tough guy look but he was a charmer.  Whenever we were outside he was always there jumping on our laps, checking out what was cooking on the grill and loving all of the attention.  What a lucky cat.

Every morning when I let the dog out, and in the evening too Tippy let me know in no uncertain terms that I was late feeding him.  We talked it out and he always forgave me.

Tippy was to celebrate his 9th birthday this spring.  But his luck ran out when he dashed into the path of a passing car.  This evening as I was digging his grave, on the south side of the parsonage underneath the crab apple tree, I thought about how he enjoyed sitting out in the sun.  His tail wagging luxuriously.  This sunny spot seems like a fitting resting place for a lucky cat who got a name.

Rest in peace, Tippy

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