The childhood pet that I remember most was a black and gray tabby cat named Streaks. We had other family pets of course, but Streaks was all mine. I had been promised the pick of the litter by our neighbors. I selected the most energetic of the crew and named him Streaks because of the distinctive markings on his coat as well as the way he would bound through the house like a streak of lightning. We became inseparable. Most nights, he slept at the foot of my bed, and if he wanted to go outside in the morning, he would lightly pat my face with his paw. Streaks was an unusually intelligent and curious creature who found ways to open doors and kitchen cabinets and get into all kinds of things. He was so good-natured that he would allow me to hold him like a baby even after he became a large cat.
Once when we moved, Streaks became disoriented and disappeared. I cried and prayed, and after more than three months, I heard his familiar meow at our back door. There were more tears and lots of hugs. When I went away to college, he became my mother’s cat. She was there to provide the strokes and treats, but he was always glad to see me when I returned home. Streaks was part of our family for almost fourteen years, and we all mourned his passing.
For many years after that, I remained petless. If my husband mentioned one, I staunchly refused, insisting that we were too busy to take care of a pet. After my son was born and reached the age of five, he began to ask for a pet too. For a while, I still refused until my husband seized an opportunity. A friend of ours had found a mother cat and her litter of kittens in an abandoned car. A true animal lover, he took the whole kit and kaboodle and was looking for homes for the kittens. When I looked into my son’s pleading, blue eyes, I finally agreed to go look at them, but I didn’t make any promises.
I spotted the friendly black and gray tabby right away. He looked so much like my original Streaks that it was love at first sight. I had to have him. I agreed that we could take him home if I could name him Streaks II. And since they already had me at a weak moment, we took his orange tabby brother home too, and we named him Puff. I knew that I had made the right decision when I heard my son’s laughter as he played with the kittens and chased them through the house.
Streaks II took to me immediately, and though he might resent the comparison, followed me around like a dog. He was as good-natured as his predecessor, and I found that I loved having him around. He lived with us for about two years, yet sadly, once day we couldn’t find him. After weeks of searching, we realized that he wasn’t coming home.
Streaks III now graces our home with his presence. He is a fluffier version of the first two with a white chest and paws that look like they are covered in velvety, white gloves. He is a handsome cat, and he obviously knows it. We found him in need of a home at our veterinarian’s office, so we promptly adopted him. One of his favorite pastimes is sitting in the bathroom sink while I style my hair in the mornings. He also curls up beside me on cold mornings when I can take time for a second cup of coffee and a good book. He sometimes jumps up on my desk when I am working at the computer and paws at the keyboard. We still have Puff as well, and the two make quite a pair.
According to the website for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, so I thought it only appropriate to write about pets. The ASPCA encourages us to “Go Orange for Animals” throughout the month of April by wearing orange to remind us to treat our furry friends well. My original Streaks was a faithful companion as I grew up. Pets can make such an impact on our lives.
Deana Johnson lives in Laurinburg.