When I was fourteen, I came home one day to discover one of the half feral cats who hung around my family's backyard had produced a litter of four kittens.  Amazingly, we were able to tame them and they became beloved pets.  Their names were Peek, Norske, Prince, and Smudge.  Smudge was given to my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

These four were quite legendary when it came to our long history of family pets.

Peek would play lost soul any time I left the house, or happened to have my bedroom door shut.  My family joked about sending him to boot camp with me.  I did consider adopting him as my own once I was allowed to move off base and have pets.  Peek, however, did not live that long.  He was one of many pets who fell victim to the stupid drivers who race up our streets when he was four.

Norske loved all varieties of food.  Her size showed this.  She enjoyed being outside in the sun, but did not care much for the cat doors.  She preferred to wait until someone was going in or out of the house and wander in before the door was shut.  I recall Rob having a grand time with her.  Her undercoat was the heaviest I have ever seen in a short hair.  During the summers, she would make a point to track someone down and demand to be brushed to relieve some of the heavy coat.  Norske disappeared in the summer of 2006.  We suspect she was also a victim to our street, but never found out for sure.

Smudge was well loved by our relatives.  My cousin used to make bumps in the rug, because Smudge would become intensely bothered by them and would pounce on them to make sure there was not something moving underneath.  He fell ill at the age of seven or eight and died soon after.

This left Prince.  My mother has referred to him for years as the 'Gentleman Cat'.  He lived up to this name, too.  He would often escort family members around the yard and was content to sit in my mother's lap for hours.  If he felt she was up too late, he would demand she go to bed.  This was done by him wandering down the hall for a few minutes, coming out and yowling at her, then going back down the hall, and repeating the process until she followed him.  His favorite toys were bouncy balls.  He would carry one onto the kitchen table and drop it, then chase the ball all over the kitchen until he captured it, and start all over.  His favorite place to sit in the backyard was on a tarp on the deck.  I imagine it used to cover the grill, but once he claimed it, my parents could not move it without upsetting him.  My parents decided to put weather sealant on the deck and had to move the tarp.  He was noticeably irritated about this until the tarp was returned to its original spot.  He also enjoyed chattering at birds from the living room windowsill.

He fell ill earlier this year.  I noticed during my last visit that he has lost a considerable amount of weight.  My parents eventually took him to the vet after failed attempts to increase his weight.  He had liver inflammation and a high white blood cell count.  My mother brought him home with a small pharmacy of medicine in tow and nursed him somewhat back to health earlier this month.  However, this only seemed to prolong the inevitable.  Last week, Prince curled up in a box near the heating vent in the kitchen, went to sleep, and never woke up.  I suppose if one has to pass on, doing so in the comfort of home with those who loved them among the best ways.  I had sincerely hoped his health would hold until I returned.  It saddens me every time a family pet I grew up with passes on while I am away from home.  I will remember the good times with him and his siblings for years to come.  Rest in peace, Prince.  You are dearly missed, but I know you are enjoying endless sunbeams and the best bouncy balls.

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About emeree

I am an Air Force veteran. I served as a Security Forces troop for nearly seven years and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant before separating in 2008. My tours of duty were in England and Oklahoma. I live in the Seattle area, which is where I grew up. I used my GI Bill and earned a degree from the University of Washington. I currently work in downtown Seattle and experience all the adventure that comes with that.
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