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Little Dude

by Wyvryn


He was born in the back of an old beat up blue Buick in the late afternoon of September 29, 1985 in the next door neighbor's driveway. His mother Gypsy was an old calico barn cat that had taken refuge there. Originally I had planned to take a yellow striped cat like Morris but when I went to get him, the black and white kitten opened his eyes and looked at me. I looked at Nancy and asked, "Can I have that one instead?"

I will never forget her answer because it tickled me so, "I don't care, JUST take one!"

I carefully carried the tiny little bunch of black and white fur back to the house. He was loaded with fleas that had already begun to chow down on my arm and hands as I held him. Still holding him I cleared the kitchen sink and got a couple bath towels, one I spread on the adjoining counter. After making sure the water wasn't too warm I put the kitten under the stream and poured some dish soap on him to lather up and rubbed it real good into his fur all over. He was so good and didn't fight or cry or anything while I did this. I rinsed him off and he suddenly went completely limp in my hands.

I thought, "Oh, no, I've killed this poor little thing, this tiny little kitty."

I gently placed him on the towel and used the other one to carefully rub him all over, saying, "Come on, kitty, don't die on me. Please don't die on me."

After what seemed like a very long time he finally opened his eyes. I hugged him to me just happy that he was still alive! Then I showed him where the litter box and dishes of food were and put him down to inspect his new home.

At the time we had two other cats, Isis, a very opinionated calico and Ding-a-ling, a sweetheart of a wuss. Isis took an immediate dislike to the kitten and terrorized him every chance she got but Ding took him under his wing (er, paw?) and sort of watched over him.

We had to find a name for him and I didn't want to give him a mundane one like Boots or Bandit, although both would have fit him well. We were watching the soap "Days of Our Lives" when Patch, one of the characters, asked his pregnant sister, Kim, how the little dude was doing? I decided then and there that would be the kitten's name, Little Dude.

My next problem was my landlady, she had been away that weekend when I got Dude. So I took him over and introduced them to each other, then promptly apologized for not consulting her but I had fallen in love with this kitten. After a moment's hesitation she said okay and continued to fuss over our new family member.

He would hide under the buffet when Der came home, afraid for a long time of Der's big booming voice until he finally learned this gentle giant would never hurt him for all the noise he made.

And Isis continued to pick on him. In the beginning he didn't seem very crazy about me or Der but he did seem to love our son, Derrik. And I wasn't surprised as years ago a cat meant for me had adopted my son as his person so I accepted it as inevitable.

He loved to sleep behind the books on my bookshelves and we would spend a great deal of time trying to find that small cat. Or inside the huge speaker that Der had to his shortwave on his desk.

When the quake hit in 1986 we were all terrified. I thought at first that one of the oil furnaces in the basement had exploded. But the force of the explosion had an odd feel to it, it rolled through the house like a wave breaking on the beach. After checking with Nancy I turned the tv on CNN and sure enough we had had oursleves an earthquake. And I should have guessed it sooner. Isis was under Der's desk, Dude was under my bookcase, and poor Ding was running in circles on the landing to the upstairs. It took hours to coax Dude and Isis from their hiding places.

When we moved to West 35th in Ashtabula off Station Street he loved to lay in the window with the most sunshine and would follow the light from one room to the next. It was also here that Isis found she could ambush him and knock him down the circular staircase we had there. And I think after I took a nasty fall and bounced all the way to the bottom on my behind we commiserated together! But he still basically preferred Derrik's company at this point.

Then we moved to the house on Jefferson Ave. It was here he discovered the post at the foot of the steps and made it his own. He'd sit for hours looking out the window of the front door.

And if I watched tv he'd tried to get my attention by standing on his head between the post and the rail going upstairs. And there were times when he tried to take the rail up instead of the stairs, he made it halfway before his claws would slip off and he's fall. He was a natural born clown. One Halloween I decked him out in some of my occult jewelry and he obligingly sat on the post so that all the tick-or-treaters could see him, he loved attention.

It was here too he began doing "pretty kittys". We'd tell him how pretty and soft and fuzzy he was, then he would roll over from side to side on his back, looking up at us with his upside down and a silly grin on his face, and he would purr so loud.

Then one day tired of Isis knocking him down the satirs all the time he did it to her and dared her to come back up the stairs. After that she left him alone.

He also began to sit up for attention and sometimes for food, though more for the former. It was here I began to pay closer attention to him for only one cat had ever done the very same thing untaught and on his own. In the beginning I thought it was a fluke, an odd rendom act but he did it again and again, continuing up to his last night.

But the clincher to what I was coming to believe happened very shortly after. Der had set his empty glass on the floor and Dude put his paw in to get the milk left on the bottom so he could lick it off. I was sure then that this was my beloved Trouble who had come back in Dude.

Many times I gazed deeply into those clear green emerald eyes, so full of that marvelous mystery, and knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was Trouble looking back at me. My Gray Ghost was back in the loving form of our new Two Tone Freckle. Dude was black and white with a solitary black freckle on his left leg. He also had three barely discernible freckles on the white part of his face beside his nose.

Another thing that convinced me shortly afterward was that when I was doing a monthly ritual Dude came in and stayed. Unlike our other cats who seemed to want no part of my private ritual he sat down and purred. In later rites I could feel the psychic energy bounce off him and come from him as was truly a son of the Mother. Only Trouble had enjoyed doing these with me.

After this we bonded and I really became his person. He would sit on the back of my desk chair directly behind me or with his butt on top of the chiar and his front paws over my shoulder. When we moved he took to laying in the sunshine across from my desk or he would curl up in the small space beside the box of computer disks on the chair to the right side of the desk but still beside me.

He purred all the time and like Trouble, could purr and complain at the same time if he thought I held him too long or played with his tail when he wasn't in the mood.

When we moved back to Cleveland we worried about the trip being too much for Ding-a-ling but he took it well, better than we'd hoped. It was Little Dude I found with his eyes glazed over in the basement room we had put them in while we moved in. Thinking hehad a seizure I picked him up and he came back with a very loud "Merrow" and even louder purr. While Jim and Darlene lived upstairs we could leave the back door open so he could stretch out in the sun on the landing. It wasn't long before he was use to their petting and talking to him as they came and went.

He loved to play practical jokes, especially on Der. Until we all caught on to what he was doing -- he would have Der throw a toy and then Dude would go sit by it. Der would get up, throw the toy, and Dude would sit patiently until Der threw it again. The funniest joke was when he convinced Der one of his toys was under the couch. Der was on his hands and knees looking for a toy but nothing was to be found. We both swore we could hear Dude chuckling!

He was good at "kissies" too, another Trouble trait. When he wanted to be petted I'd tell him to give me a "kissie" and he's touch his nose to mine or my lips or cheek -- sometimes two or three times. I read somewhere that cats who are friends acknowledge one another this way and I always felt honored he considered me a friend.He'd stand on the ledge at the foot of the steps and see me off to work sometimes with a "kissie", other times with his deep purr and he was always waiting for me when I got home.

Many times Derrik, Kathy (Derrik's wife), and Der knew when I was coming home because he would go to the door and wait for me to come in. Then he would do "pretty kittys" to show me how glad he was to see me. He'd follow me around until I picked him up and pet him and scratch gently between his ears.

He was a master of walking between my feet especially going up and down the steps. But his favorite ploy was to race me up or doen and then shoot real quick between my feet as he did it.

He had his aggravating tricks too. His first Thanksgiving with us he ate so much chicken he could barely waddle from the kitchen. He made it from there to the living room where he promptly threw up everything he ate on the clean floor mat before the front door. All through his life he had times when he would gorge himself and ate as fast as could, and then he'd throw up wherever he happened to be. Another Trouble trait he had is to get my attention he'd gently run one claw across my leg, arm, or hand and it would hurt even though it rarely broke the skin. Then I would yell at him to knock it off.

Dude hated to be yelled at, especially when I shouted, "bad kitty" when he misbehaved. He would usually run into our bedroom and sulk under the bed. If I didn't find him, later he'd show up usually peeking around a piece of furniture to see if he were forgiven. And if all was well again he'd purr so loud.

He loved to look out windows -- the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom and library windows which were screened (and where his fur invariably clung to the curtains where he was perched) in the summer time. He would make funny little chirruping noises as he watched the birds outside and the very tip of his tail would be the only thing that quivered. We watched amorous squirrels togther outside our bedroom window on Grovewood, a feisty cardinal out the bedroom window on Corsica, and countless birds wherever we lived that seemed to know he was restrained by the window screens because they would often come right up to the window to tease him.

Dude also loved to stalk things and those invisible molecules that only cats can see. It was a joy to watch him crouch motionless to the floor except for that ever quivering tail and then he'd pounce! He was a fine mouser too, usually bringing the mice he'd caught and killed to show me what a fine mouser he was. I praised him, telling him what a good kitty he was. Once I caugyt him on the kitchen counter where he wasn't allowed and was going to scold him until I saw he had a mouse in his mouth. And his expression told me he knew he was in deep trouble as he dropped the dead mouse to the floor and fled. I didn't have the heart to scold him and waited for his return to tell him how good he was. Another time I was watching and taping "X-Files" when he jumped up on the couch and I absently petted him. He kept butting his head against the hand I had the remote in and looking down discovered he'd placed another ded mouse right across it.

Dude was such a pretty cat to look at and a pleasure to touch with his fine soft fur. He kept himself clean and was rarely dirty. The black and white had such a shine to it and in the bright sunlight it looked like a rare treasure. I loved to watch him sleeping, sometimes curled up frequently beside me, other times sprawled out trustingly exposing his tummy. Or sitting in the middle of the steps or on the post at the bottom of the stairs. He had white whiskers, long but not overly so and very delicate lashes that were often seen only in bright sunlight. His nose was pink surrounded by white. It was amazing to watch the range of expressions he had on that sweet face.

Dude was a comfort too. When I was down or depressed and when I was sick he'd come and lay beside me with that reassuring purr of his. When I found out I had diabetes and the full impact of the disease hit when I got home, I was crying stretched out on the couch. He jumped up with a "mrpp" and rubbed his head against my shoulder. I loved to have him lying beside me or on the back of the couch when I watched tv or read a book in bed. In real cold weather he'd curl up under the winter covers with me. When I soaked in the tub and would read for an hour or more he'd lay on the rug, curled up, next to the tub. And often I could hear him purr in contentment. Sometimes he stand on his hind legs and swat me with a paw to get me to pet me.

He didn't like flea baths and except for an occasional yowl he'd bear it stocially. I would rub him dry with a couple towels and then wrap a dry towel around him and hold and pet him when I finished. He often looked like a drowned rat until he found a place where he could sit and lick himself dry. He would often push the door to the bathroom open so he could keep Der and I company while we were there. And sometimes I accidently hit him with the door because he'd be lying so close to it when I came out.

He hated it when I when I locked him out of the bedroom or library. He would often sit on a box or under the chair and supervise me while I did my exercises. And often he'd do "pretty kittys" along side of me.

He loved to play with toys, especially catnip mice, and though he had claws he never bothered the furniture except for one piece, my grandmaother's buffet. He would sharpen his claws, just like Trouble, on the cross braces. I never yelled at him for it.

He loved catnip and would roll in it until he was covered from nose to tail. Then he'd sit and lick all the catnip off and curl up and go to sleep! He also loved to play with air filled balloons. Dude would bat them around with his claws sheathed until he got bored and then he'd deliberately break them so he could run through the house with the end that was tied off in his mouth.

Dude was an alarm clock too. There were days when I overslept and his cold nose and raspy tongue would wake me up. When I petted him he'd often lick my fingers or the back of my hand like Trouble. He also liked it when I talked to him and sometimes he'd talk back vocally or would purr and rub against me. Like when I got dressed for work or put the clothes away in the bedroom. He did great "pretty kittys" on the bed and once in a great while he'd roll himself right off the edge of the bed. He also loved to play hide and seek with me and many times I'd see his pink nose under the furniture but pretended not to see it. Or he'd go upstairs and meow to tell me it was time to go to bed.

When I got my computer he would sit on the mouse pad and play with the mouse. He thought it was great fun to bat the swinging mouse while he laid leisurely with his paws hanging over the edge of my desk until I made him stop. It took a few times to convince him that my computer mouse was not a cat toy.

He loved to get under the covers on our bed. Many times I came in to find the covers pulled down or wrinkled back from the edge of the bed where he had pushed them in his play. He also loved to get in the middle of the bed when I was putting fresh linen on or just making it up. I left him and finished making the bed over him because he seemed to delight in being a bump in the middle of the bed!

He was known by many nicknames: Dudie, Dudie-Pudie, Diddles, Dudimus Maximus, Doodlie-Poo, Fuzzy Wuzzy, Purr-Purr, Pinky Nosy, Shadow because he often followed me from room to room; Pretty Kitty, Honey Bunny, My Baby, and my son's special name for him, Strudel Brain. And I refuse to write the expletive that my husband called him and to my disgust he'd answer to!

That night I heard him crying like he did when I inadvertently locked him out of the bedroom. I got up to let him in and he wasn't there. I heard him again only this time I could tell he was in pain. From the top of the steps I watched him stagger down and then across the living room to fall over in front of the couch by the archway. He was panting and drooling just a bit and his heart was beating so fast. I was beside myself with grief knowing I was going to lose him. In desperation I checked my books on cats while Der called the vet. Dude had stretched out and cleaned his paws where he had drooled on them. I knelt on the floor to put my arms around him pleading for him not to die. The vet called back and told us to take him to a vet emergency hospital to the east of us. I wrapped him in a towel and carefully carried him out to the car. On the way there he seemed to get better, his breathing settled and his beautiful green eyes were clear, he was alert watching out the window and purring. When der pulled into the lot I could feel his heart start beating again and this time he was crying out in such awful pain that it broke my heart. They let us in and took him and a short time later the vert informed us he was gone, he had had a massive coronary which was not unusual in cats his age. I asked to bring him back home with us and they put his lifeless body in a black plastic bag and a box. It was a long ride home and I could hear Der sniffle now and again.

I put his body on the back porch and when we got home from work that Wednesday we buried Little Dude in the back yard. I took him out of the body bag and box and wrapped him in a towel and placed two of his favorite toys with him. It was hard on both of us because he had been such a part of our life. And writing this now I still cry because I lost my beloved pet twice. I do take solace in knowing he's in Summerland, healthy and whole, perhaps doing "pretty kittys" for the Lady at Her feet or stting on Her lap and purring as She pets him. And someday I know in my heart that we'll be together again.


It has been a year since since Little Dude has left us but we still think of him, remembering all the cute things he did. The funny looks he gave to Der when my husband made strange noises and sounds or acted like the Three Stooges. And tears come to my eyes because I still miss him.


Two years have past and I had a beautiful full size portrait of Dude painted as a Christmas present to myself. It hangs across from the ledge where he use to sit. It almost looks as if he's going to walk right off the canvas. And it has eased our loss just a bit.


It has now been five years since we've lost Dude and there isn't a day that goes by that Der or I don't remember something he did. All pets are special friends but Little Dude will remain extra special in our minds and hearts.

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