When the original BlackJack, the cat who came for winter, moved across the valley to a larger home with his young family, I was devastated. I called my good friend Joanne because she and I had mutually grieved the loss of a number of animals.
Joanne listened to my Pity Party for a time before finally saying, Geez, Carla, you need to get your own cat. If you can’t commit to an animal, how can you possibly commit to a man?
She and I had also shared our woes in dating, although Joanne had found the Love of her Life so those talks had long since ceased.
I thought about Joanne’s words as I realized how much the cat meant to me and how much he had become a part of my life. BlackJack had been an amusing companion and he had certainly kept me entertained when he wasn’t napping. However, there was the reality that we didn’t belong to one another. He and I had both wandered in and out of each other’s lives, even if he had snuggled up to my back on cold winter nights.
As I write this, I realize this experience wasn’t really that much different than some of the long term relationships I’ve been in, which certainly gives me pause for thought.
Regardless, Joanne was no doubt right. I needed to commit, at least to a cat, especially as there were no men currently vying for my attention.
I knew I wanted a black male cat, having first had such great luck with the first BlackJack and then, after researching black cats online, learning that black male cats do make good companions and are pretty mellow. They are also good at keeping your feet and/or back warm in the winter.
By winter, I had ventured onto Craigs List and, in the dead of February, there he was…a big, big black cat with gold eyes. He lived in Berkeley, a street cat that had been taken in by a young couple that already had two too many cats.
I drove up to Berkeley, took one look at the a four year old, very large black cat who nuzzled me and purred before going back to his nap. He had a jet black coat that still feels like soft velvet, inquisitive eyes and a cold nose. I knew immediately this was a cat with whom I could commit.
The two of us drove home with the newly named BlackJack howling beside me. He didn’t know he was on the cusp of a new, pampered lifestyle. As soon as he got in his new home, BlackJack bolted down into the basement and hid. The good news was that I was on winter break, so I had all the time in the world to sit on the stairs in a damp basement and bond with my new cat. The bad news was that I was still recovering from bronchitis and the damp basement did not help speed the recovery.
Nonetheless, we bonded once he got hungry. Apparently, the key to a male’s heart may be through his stomach regardless of the species, although I quickly learned an 18 lb. cat is always hungry.
And, BlackJack is pure male. He loves food and he loves football, especially the 49ers. He stretches out on the couch and watches every play unfold with great concentration, but only during their winning seasons. Don’t ask me how he knows, but he’s currently batting 1000 (a mixed sports metaphor, I know) and he senses exactly how the season will go by halftime of the first preseason game. This season looks particularly bad, but you already knew that.
It’s been almost 14 years that we’ve been together — take that, Joanne, I can commit — although recently, BlackJack appears to have been smitten by the siren song of a sweet young thing next door. He does come back home for meals and naps, and I have to admit, he still snuggles close and keeps my back warm on cold winter nights.