This is a post I wrote in early June and procrastinated about posting...
I think the first cat I had that really felt like "my" cat was one that originally belonged to my sister. Beaumont. He died about this time of year back in 1991, so he's been on my mind lately.
I remember taking the Greyhound bus up to visit my sister in San Luis Obispo one weekend. The cheaper ticket was the bus that stopped. So we stopped (and stopped, and stopped) at nearly every little town between Thousand Oaks and San Luis. It took forEVER! Felt like midnight by the time I got there. Brenda and I had a good time though. We went to Morro Bay to poke around the little shops and had sushi for lunch. And to the mission in San Luis. And I seem to remember some place we went for breakfast that had wonderful sourdough pancakes.
Brenda had a really nice cat, Beaumont. Long white hair with gray blotches, one blue eye and one green eye. She'd leave the window above her bed open and he'd come in and out as he liked. I think Brenda said he didn't usually take to strangers, but Beaumont and I got along right away. I remember sitting on her bed and petting him. He was just the kind of cat personality I like. Affectionate, but not clingy. He could take care of himself outside, and he liked to play, but he was a gentleman about it, not bitey. And he never missed the litter box.
Sometime later Brenda moved up to Seattle and couldn't take Beaumont with her. So he came to live with me at Mom & Dad's house.
Beaumont arrived and seemed immediately at home. He was definitely my cat. My room was his room. He slept on my bed, came home for dinner when I called him, and followed me around the house. My parents' house has an open staircase with carpeted treads and no risers. It was like a giant cat climbing toy! I'd get my bathrobe tie and dangle it down over the stairs. Beau would have a great time hunting it, hanging upside down underneath the stair treads and pouncing out from between them onto the "snake". We'd play tug-of-war with the robe tie, or human hand vs cat paw "chicken". He certainly didn't pull his claws in for that game, but either I was quick enough or he didn't want to hurt me, cause I never got scratched.
When we got Beau I'd returned to college to get my teaching credential. Two years of Education and English coursework, then a year of Student Teaching. I had a tough time in Student Teaching. Education profs tell you not to get married, have children, get divorced, move or buy a house during Student Teaching, as it's one of the most stressful things you'll ever do aside from those things. They really aren't exaggerating.
I was shy enough that class discipline and talking in front of large groups was really hard for me. My first semester of student teaching was at a Jr. HS in a high-income area. The teachers were polite, but snobby, and not very good at giving constructive criticism. I'd be up in my room sitting on the floor with papers spread out around me, working on teaching plans, correcting student essays, writing self-evaluations...the work was never-ending, and I'd get tired and pretty discouraged at times. But it seemed like Beau-kitty would always know I was feeling bad. He'd come upstairs, rub his head on my arm, say 'merrrouww' and want petting. He was a great comfort. It was hard to imagine life without him.
Sometime during my final semester Beau was in a scuffle with a mangy neighbor cat and got bitten on the ear. Two or three weeks later poor Beau was skin and bones and not eating. He didn't want to play anymore, he just laid around looking thin and sick. We didn't know what was happening.
I came home one day and he was gone. Dad had taken him to the vet. The vet said Beau had feline HIV and there was nothing to be done. So they put him down. I didn't even get to say goodbye! I hadn't realized how serious it was. Poor Beau-kitty. 25 years later and I still miss him sometimes. He cheered me up a lot during a rough time in my life. He was my first and best cat. I wish I had a picture of him, but I haven't found one.