Big ol' Puddy Tat

Puddy Tat

Everyone has a story to tell about one’s pet and I guess I am no exception; I too have a story to tell.

Approximately 43 years ago, give or take, a little boy came carrying a little tabby kitten into our family room. He was so excited to show us his new friend.

It seems that a neighbor girl, Shelly Telecky, had brought a kitten home from her grandparents, only to suddenly decide that she would much rather have a hamster than a plain old kitten; so her being older, urged little Ryan to break into his piggy bank and give her $2 so she could go to Alco and purchase this wonderful new hamster. And HE would be the owner of this wonderful new kitten.

This transaction took place in our alley and soon the phone was ringing. Shelly’s mother missed the kitten and she had been informed that Shelly had “sold” the kitten to Ryan. She wanted Shelly to return the money and let Ryan keep the kitten. I assured her it was a sealed business agreement between the two of them, and I was okay with Ryan’s first business transaction.

Of course Ryan was thrilled; he held the kitten and promptly named her “Puddy Tat” as he was at that time enthralled with the Sylvester & Tweedy cartoon. As soon as his dad arrived home from work, he rushed to the door to show him his new friend. Bob was less than thrilled, he had never owned a cat, and always attested to the fact that he didn’t like cats. He pulled me off to the side and said, “Ryan can’t have that cat, tell him he needs to give it back to Shelly.”

I said, “Okay but YOU go into the family room and YOU tell him he can’t have the cat.”

Well he looked stricken and said “I can’t tell him that, YOU tell him.”

It was then agreed that Ryan could keep the cat, but Bob said it couldn’t stay in the house. I looked into the family room and Ryan was sitting in front of the TV with Puddy Tat tucked under his arm asleep.

I again said, “YOU go tell him he has to put the kitten outside.”

It was decided that the kitten could stay in the house BUT it had to sleep in a basket in the family room. Yeah right, ever try telling a kitten where to sleep?

At bedtime Bob went in to check on the sleeping Ryan and Amber and he ushered me into Ryan’s room. There was Ryan sound asleep with Puddy Tat sleeping on his pillow. Bob heaved a huge sigh and said, “I can’t believe that we have a cat in my house and it’s sleeping on my son’s pillow.”

Well that is exactly where Puddy Tat slept for the next approximate 16 years. Ryan shortened her name to “Puds” as he grew older. Ryan grew from that little 5-year-old -- he started school, graduated high school and went away to college. Puddy Tat continued to sleep on his pillow every night.

The year that Amber was a junior in high school, we had an exchange student from Peru staying with us. Since Ryan was in college, she slept in Ryan’s room. She was deathly afraid of cats and the first night she awoke to see Puds staring at her, inches from her face. She woke the whole household with her screams.

Puds never gave up, each night she would wait until Pam would be sleeping and then she would creep into the room, up on the bed and settle on the pillow. Soon Pam accepted Puds and they actually became friends. When Pam left us, she wrote a letter saying how she had learned so much living in the United States, and that she too was going to have a Puds in her household when she returned to Peru.

Through the years that we had Puds, she became a part of our family, and a wonderful memory for our children. It was Bob who would drive to the grocery store at 10 o’clock at night because someone had forgotten to get cat food and he didn’t want Puds to wait until morning. It was the beginning of awareness that life would not be complete without a cat in the house.

A cat that only drank milk from a glass by daintily putting her paw in the glass and then licking her paw clean. It might take her up to 45 minutes to drink her milk, but she wouldn’t drink it unless it was poured into a glass. This is the same cat that could jump four feet off the floor when Ryan would cast his rubber fishing worm across the floor. This is the cat that climbed our Christmas tree every single year. This is the cat that went to sleep on his best friend’s pillow every night.

She crossed the Rainbow Bridge when Ryan was a senior in college. Today she rests in our backyard. Very few pictures in Ryan’s and Amber’s childhood album are without this little friend somewhere in the picture.

Our family all agrees, she was a great bargain at only $2.

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