How Our Cats Come to Us (or, “The Tucker Suckers”)

Like many cat lovers, our cats choose us. We rarely get to choose them. Karma (of blessed and bitchy memory) was chosen, but first she was dumped, along with her mother and two brothers. Someone dumped the mama cat and three little kittens along Ponce de Leon and a saintly woman took them in. She then put up the fateful sign: “Free kittens to good homes.”

We happened to be cat-less at the time, temporarily of course, and saw the sign one Saturday as we were driving into Decatur (we lived in Inman Park then). So we stopped, introduced ourselves and met the kittens. Karma was the only long-haired one, and she was also the only one that came right up to us. She was pretty fearless! She actually stood on my thighs with her front paws on the dashboard as we drove her home. She was only about 12 weeks old at the time. Later, she came to loathe and despise car rides so much that we couldn’t take her to the vet anymore and had to find a vet who would come to us.

Buster, who also lived to be very old, showed up one morning at our back door in Inman Park, starving to death and howling his heart out. I guess we had some kind of invisible sign that only cats can read, saying, “Soft-Hearted Suckers Live Here” or some such. Anyway, he was already full-grown, several years old, and looked awful. So of course no one wanted him. (My husband Michael even said, “Linda, you can feed that cat as much as you want and he’s never going to be good-looking.”) Well, I proved him wrong. Less than a year later, people who met him for the first time would say, “What a handsome cat!” And I would look at Michael and just smile…

Buster was even famous for a little while; I was interviewed by the Atlanta Business Chronicle about website design and he got his picture in the ABC!

Buster was an outdoor kitty and wouldn’t even come into the basement when it was cold. So he became the porch cat. We didn’t like leaving him outside so much but he could howl loud enough to make you insane, and could do it non-stop. Once we moved to Tucker however, we had to turn him into an indoor-outdoor cat, and he became the first cat to live in the downstairs studio and office space while Karma ruled the upstairs roost. It actually worked out better than it sounds. He was a total love sponge and would just sit on your lap as long as you let him. He did drool a bit, but hey, he was kind of old.

Buster eventually slowed down a lot and went out less and less. He developed kidney disease; we put him on a special diet and started hydrating him. He hung on for about another year and a half or so before we finally had to say good-bye. I figure he was between 18 and 20 years old by then.

OK, you are saying, but that doesn’t explain “The Tucker Suckers.” Oh, well that is the name my friend Paul Glickstein, a brilliant wordsmith, just came up with once we caved into Theo and admitted we were keeping him. He said, “You two are just the Tucker Suckers, aren’t you?” And, you know, I had to admit it was appropriate. I do wish we could have more than just one cat… But unfortunately, Theo has rather strong opinions on the matter.

Next post: Neutering Theo. OMG.