Twelve years ago, a perfect little orange tabby cat was born somewhere in the wilds of Spartanburg, SC. He and his littermates were retrieved from a dumpster and brought to the Spartanburg Animal Shelter…and soon after he reached through the bars of his cage and smacked me on the shoulder. He named himself, meowing loudly each time I said the word Mills when we passed Spartan Mills in the car.
Mills has outlived his feline housemates Franny and Zooey. He and Zooey were buddies as brothers often are, but he drove Franny round the bend, puffing up at her and dive bombing her from the back of the sofa. He has welcomed (with claws at the ready, mind you) six greyhounds who became permanent residents and countless others just passing through on their way to their own forever homes. He has become Daisy’s shadow and not-so-welcome bosom companion since her status change to Single Dog.
He crawls across my head at night and nuzzles into my hair, purring like a freight train gone awry. He routinely gives lectures on the value of Giving Him Some Milk Right Now in the kitchen (especially when someone puts the kettle on). He would love to explore the back garden, and I’m positive he’s keeping minions in the cellar. As I sit here, even now, he stands up and pats me on the arm with one of his paws for attention, then sits back down to guard the door.
Mills never left the house save a few emergency vet appointments in the first eight years of his life. From years nine through eleven he moved six times, one of those being a four thousand mile move to a new country. I think that all that moving has brought my timid little ginger kitten out of his shell. Well, shoved him out, if I’m honest.
No longer a figment of my imagination, he greets visitors from his perch at the bend in the staircase before fleeing to the safety of Under The Duvet. His reward for his 12 long years of service is a nightly nap in front of the gas fire…something he will surely miss when we move back to America next year.
Happy Birthday, my Little Man, my Orange Terror, my Punkin Kitty. Twelve years old this month…I’ve blinked and those twelve years are gone. Let’s take the next twelve a bit more slowly, shall we?