This is one of the more difficult articles for me to write because it has to do with a loss. When you have a nearly 19-year relationship it is really hard to say goodbye. The friend I am talking about is of the 4-legged variety. At 4:30 pm Tuesday March 3rd we lost our friend and family member “Rolland.” To some he would be considered just a pet cat, but to us he really was a member of our family. I have mentioned him before in this column We Don’t Have Pets, They Have Us., but this is a more detailed account of how a couple-month-old kitten stole our hearts. As I explained in that article our son Adam brought this little kitten home and asked if we could keep him. Who could say no to that cute little ball of fur. That previous article in December spelled out all of Rolland’s medical problems and we feel that he used at least 8 of his “9-Lives” going through all of that. His little body just couldn’t take it any more.
I don’t want this article to be a “downer” so I’ll explain some of our experiences with Rolland so you may have a little insight into why he became such an important part of our family. When we first brought him in it didn’t take very long for him to be accepted by our other cats. Being half-Tabby and Half-Siamese he looked “pretty” and knew it. He also had the vocalization of a Siamese. When you have a new human baby in your life it is difficult at first to understand what they want or need when they fuss or cry. I was quite surprised when our two children were infants that I slowly began to understand the difference between the “I’m hungry” cry and the “I’m wet” cry. There was also a specific cry or whine for “I’m tired.” It was much the same with Rolland. He made his wishes known to us as he grew up. One of the funniest things that happened over the years was his opening doors. At one point all three of our cats were on separate diets and were not allowed to eat each others’ food. We had to put them in separate rooms with the doors closed. They had the habit of leaving just a little food in their dish so they could share it with the others.
The doors in our house all have handles not doorknobs. Rolland could open the doors when he was on the side of the door where he could stand on this hind legs, push the handle down and at the same time push the door open. That worked for all but the room he was put in while eating. That’s what we thought anyway. Humans can easily outsmart a cat, right? A big no to that. We started to find the door open with him in the next room trying to eat some of our female cat Casey’s food in the next room while she was over his dish gobbling up his leftovers. We couldn’t figure out how he could possibly open that door when he would have had to push the handle down and at the same time pull the door open. As luck would have it I had to go downstairs for some reason not too long after I gave all of them their food. That’s when I saw the most amazing thing. Our little cat Casey was standing on her hind legs pushing the door while Rolland pushed down on the door handle and then put his paw under the door to pull. It took the two of them too pull it off, but they did it. Now my problem was what to do to stop it from happening. I came up with a really simple solution. I went to the hardware store, bought a regular doorknob, and replaced that handle with a round doorknob. Rolland could not open it even with Casey’s help and he began to bang on the door and meow very angrily. It took about a week for him to settle down and understand that he was not going to open that door ever again.
The funniest event that involved Rolland could be titled “Rolland and the Balloon Monster.” When our son Adam turned 18-years-of-age I got a “Happy Birthday” balloon for him and threatened him with serious embarrassment when he turned 21.
So for Adam’s 21st birthday I purchased one large helium-filled Mylar balloon that said “Happy 21st Birthday.” To go along with that one I bought 5 latex helium-filled balloons. Since Adam was in a band at the time he had a “gig” that night so I tied the long ribbons to our mailbox by the curb. There they were posed to embarrass Adam, but when he came home late at night he just went to bed leaving the balloons floating on ribbons above the mailbox. It wasn’t until later the next day that he brought the balloons into the house.
The ribbons were tied together near their ends in placed in his closet. To protect his room from the cats he usually locked his door when he wasn’t home. It was evening. I was sitting in my chair in the living room with my laptop on a TV tray in front of me. My back was toward the wall and on the other side of the wall were the stairs down to our son’s room. My wife, Sue, was sitting on the couch to my left. She had a good view of the top of the stairway and the hallway leading away from the living room. It’s complicated, but in just a second you’ll know why my description is important. All of a sudden we heard a large “bang” followed by more “bangs” that to me sounded like a “SWAT” team just hit our front door with a battering ram. With my back turned I saw nothing, but Sue saw this incredibly bushy tail go flying down the hall followed by all of those balloons. When I was a kid we used to tie a blown-up balloon onto our bicycle so the spokes would continually hit it. The sound it made, if you put two on the front wheel and two on the rear wheel was similar to a Harley Davidson “Hog” racing down the street. That’s what happened to Rolland. He got into Adam’s room and somehow managed to snag the tied-together ribbons on his collar which scared him and the faster he ran the louder the balloons sounded as they followed him up the stairs. He ran into the spare bedroom down the hall and under the bed. I hit the floor and crawled under the bed to catch the balloons and Sue got on top of the bed reaching down between the bed and the wall and caught Roland. She then released the ribbons from his collar. Before this incident Rolland was basically fearless and nothing scared him, but after that just about every noise scared him.
Rolland did something else that both made us laugh and made us mad. He had a penchant for bread products. We found this out one day when I brought in the groceries and just lined the full bags up on the kitchen floor. I proceeded to put the groceries away. I left the room for what seemed like just a second or two to take some prescriptions that were in one of the bags into the bathroom cupboard. When I came back, there was Rolland running away from me. He obviously knew he did something wrong. There it was on the floor. A loaf of bread in its plastic wrapping, but there was a gaping hole in the side of the bag with a three inch wide area chewed out of the bread. I could not imagine how he chewed the hole in the plastic and ate through that many slices of bread in such a short time. From then on we removed all bread products including packages of hamburger buns and bagels.
These are just a few of the highlights of nearly 19 years with our friend Rolland. I know he’ll be waiting for us at the “Rainbow Bridge” when it is our time to leave this earth. So long, little man, you still have us laughing at your antics.
Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected]