We adopted our first cat in 1968, when we moved to a small town in Texas, the first time we lived in a rent house rather than an apartment in Houston, where we were not allowed to have pets. When Christmas came, we put up a table top tree, which lasted a full twenty minutes before Prissy climbed it and brought it down. This Christmas I am remembering the many cats we’ve had. One of the most outstanding was a black male we named Captain Midnight. This is a piece I wrote about him and share this morning with cat lovers everywhere.
He sits on the ottoman opposite my easy chair waiting for me to lower the newspaper so that he can hop into my lap. His once sleek black hair is sprinkled with grey. I read once that when a cat’s skin is scratched badly, the hair follicle is scarred, and the replacing hair grows in white. Captain Midnight has been neutered many years ago, but he still scraps with intruders who foray into his yard. “Someone” has removed what would be his eyebrow, for a dime sized circle of white scalp shines above his right eye. He has the pointed muzzle of a Siamese rather than the flattened face that would indicate Persian blood, and the slight kink of his tail reflects his Siamese heritage. He is pure alley cat, a Tom, and the biggest baby of our three cats.
Eight years ago, some junior high students rescued him from the busy traffic outside our school, and we put him into the glass-walled-enclosed courtyard until “someone” could take him home. I slipped away at lunchtime to play with him, and when I gathered him up, he nuzzled the fleshy part of my ring finger and began to “nurse.” I was hooked.
At first, I thought since it was so close to Halloween, I would name him Count Dracula, but I couldn’t see myself going to the door and calling, “Here, Dracula; come here Drac.” When my husband came up with the original name of Midnight, I hated to veto it, but I wanted something a bit more creative. We looked at each other and intoned in the voice of the fifties TV announcer, “Cap…tain…Midnight!”
Even now, my husband will enter the room and see me with 15 pounds of tomcat sprawled across my lap, smacking away, nursing on my finger for security. “Be a man, Cap; be a man,” he chides. Captain’s only reply is “Smack…slurp…sma-ck.”