Charlie is an old, black tomcat we rescued about fourteen years ago when a friend found him hanging around a horse barn in Corrales, and since we had not set up our foster house back then, he wound up living in our home. He is an exceptional (yes, I can hear you saying all cats are exceptional), cat in many ways. He is the bravest of our cats, and is usually the first to greet visitors, even when the others are hiding under the bed. If the visitor owns horses, Charlie will smell them on his or her clothes and become extremely affectionate, I assume out of fond memories for the horses who shared their barn with him.
He is also unflappable. Almost nothing gets him going. A few years ago, Charlie saw a deer outside our door (we live in the foothills, and deer come down into our neighborhood), and went right up to the glass, ignoring the fact that it outweighed him by more than a hundred pounds. Maybe it reminded him of a horse.
But, what makes Charlie special, and earned him his nickname of “Uncle Charlie,” is that he is unusually fond of kittens. We learned this a year or so after we adopted him, when we rescued a litter of orphan kittens. Although he could not help with the late-night bottle feedings, he spent hours each day watching over them, and even helped wash them. Little Audrey (something of a princess, but that’s another story) even took to following him everywhere:
As he enters a genteel old age, complete with white whiskers, it seems Uncle Charlie hasn’t lost his fondness for kids. About a year and a half ago, we rescued a lost kitten we named Lucy. She has a serious heart problem, and has remained small, but that doesn’t stop her from chasing the other cats. It is amazing to see cats that are twice her weight running from this rambunctious, eternal kitten. Others join in the game, wrestling and chasing her back. But Charlie is completely unflappable, ignoring her antics until she needs a good cuddle – even when the cuddle pushes an already occupied cat bed to overflowing:
So here’s to Uncle Charlie. I don’t know how we’d handle all the cats that wind up in our house without his help!