Long-haired cat makes a big impression in a short time

March 13, 2013 

Turns out, he was a long-haired tabby.

We didn’t know. He was a “gift” from a neighbor who found him by the side of the road last spring. We’re cat people here in the Deighan house, so she figured we’d take him in. We did.

My 7-year-old, who was 6 at the time, named him Tuck. Tuckee. As with most names, it was ridiculous. But, in time, it fit.

Tuck quickly became Emily’s pet. She manhandled him: hugging him close while watching television, pushing him around the house in a kiddie shopping cart. But Tuck felt the love. He never -- OK, rarely -- objected to her attention.

Remarkably, he even got in good with Casper, our 10-year- old domestic short hair and resident master of the house. Casper subjected Tuck to no initiation period. From the first day, he mentored Tuck in the ways of the cat world. How to demand attention. How to stand tall beyond the security of the house. When to eat.

Casper played the willing teacher and Tuck the eager student, especially in regard to the latter. Tuck grew at an enormous rate. Within months, his size dwarfed that of his older roommate.

And that fur. Tuck’s gray coat could have made a dust mop blush. Despite our near 30-year association with felines, we’d never seen anything like it. Our four prior cats were short hairs, leading us to question whether Tuck was even a cat or some kind of weird chinchilla offshoot. We intended to ask if we ever got around to getting him in to see the vet.

Ever the attention seeker, Tuck was constantly under foot. He liked the cool tile of the kitchen. He loved to drink out of the toilet bowl. Fishing in the dark for my pajamas last week, I tripped over him in the bedroom and cursed his existence.

We finally got Tuck to the vet last Thursday. That’s when I learned his breed. Not that it mattered much then. Struck by a car on Houston Lake Road -- more than a tenth of a mile from our front door -- Tuck passed from this world in much the same way he came in, by the side of the road.

My daughters were with me when we found him. Erica saw him first as we turned into the subdivision after a trip to the grocery store.

“Was that Tuck?” she asked, voice trembling with concern.

Yes, it was. The fur gave him away. And the white markings on his back feet. Tuck got in the way one too many times.

Emily was heartbroken. She wanted to see him, but I couldn’t allow it. He’d been hit by a car, after all.

“We never got to have his birthday,” she cried.

With no records to go on, we’d established Tuck’s birthday as April 1. It seemed as good a date as any. Don’t worry, Emily. We’ll remember it.

Contact Chris Deighan at cdeighan@cox.net.

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