Happy Birthday, Mills!

Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne

While I’m not exactly sure of his birthdate, I usually celebrate for Mills the week of Memorial Day. 11 years ago in June, my ex-husband and I went to the Spartanburg Animal Shelter to get another cat. We ended up being chosen by a gorgeous orange tabby male that the shelter said was about eight weeks old. He and some other kittens, probably his litter mates, were found in a dumpster and brought into the shelter.

We were driving away from the shelter discussing what to call our new little ball of fur. I was strongly pushing the name Toulouse, while the ex wanted to call him Stupid, so we just gave up on the decision making until we got home. We passed Spartan Mills and I said something about “Spartan Mills,” then heard a MEOW from the backseat. I said Spartan again and heard nothing. But when I said “Mills” the kitten meowed again. Thus, his name became Mills.

Mills has moved house with me eight times in the past 11 years, including the most recent one to the UK. He has outlived his two other feline housemates, Franny and Zooey, whom he loved dearly and looked up to as though they were his real siblings. He has been a willing and unwilling cat tester for many greyhounds, and has been at the center of an altercation with one of my first hounds, Henry. Regardless of that trauma, he loves my current hounds Hunky and Daisy as though they were cats just like him, rubbing on their legs and curling up to sleep next to their giant chests. I’m sure that he mourned the loss of Jeany two months ago along with the rest of us, as the two of them would sit for hours, snuggled up together with Jeany “grooming” him. Bless him, he came away from some of those times looking like a drowned rat, but he always sought her out for more love.

Mills found a girlfriend in the short month that we lived with Anne in Greenville and I wonder sometimes if he misses Molly. They would stand at opposite ends of the hallway in her house, Mills taking slow steps toward her while Molly hissed. Poor boy never gave up though…and I think that secretly Molly loved his advances. A girl can’t look too easy, you know?

So, I’m wishing my Little Man a happy 11th birthday this week. As much as I say I’m not a cat person and I’ll never have another cat, the real truth is that I’ve been spoiled by my tiny terror to ever have another cat in my life. He was here to help me through the deaths of several greyhounds and my first pets as an adult, my cats Franny and Zooey. He makes me laugh on a daily basis and I can’t imagine life without him. Here’s to 11 more, furball. Here’s to 11 more.

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