A Feline Legacy


I’ve always had a soft spot for felines. I got 2 cats for my 7th birthday and treated them like my babies. Poor things. (Ever seen a cat dressed in doll clothes before the website thingsonmycat.com? I could have made millions!). I would carry them in my laundry basket. I’d tuck them in my bed. I’d try to teach them to walk on 2 legs. Sounds torturous, but at the end of the day, it was my bed they’d curl up on and purr me to sleep. When they passed away, I was crushed.

The summer before I went to high school, my Dad ran over the neighborhood stray in our driveway. I sat at the kitchen window, watching its tail twitch and then my dad using a shovel to put it in the garbage can to await its Animal Control burial. I was crushed.

About 2 weeks later, I went to see the movie Free Willy with a friend who was moving across the country the following week. We meandered to a pet shop while waiting for our moms to pick us up. There, I saw kittens.

I persuaded my parents to let me have one since I had to watch a cat die in our driveway. Hey, whatever works, right?

So, we brought home the cutest little gray cat ever. Our other 2 cats were name Kimosabee (“friend”) and Tonto (“stupid”), so the new addition needed a name with a translation! My sister had done a workcamp in Navajo land and came home with a Navajo Bible. The only verse I knew by heart was 1 John 4:7-8 because of a song I knew. It goes:

Beloved! Let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God!

So, we found what we though was 1 John 4:7-8 in the Navajo Bible and the first word was “Ntée”. We had no clue how to pronounce it, but started calling the kitten “Nee-Tay”. Our beloved.

He was always feisty. He loved to play with toys, and seemed to have catnip coursing through his feline veins! Compared to our other 2 cats, he was definitely “the teenager”.

When our family moved 1/2 a mile, Ntée disappeared. I made weekly pilgrimages to the Animal Shelter, hoping to find a gray cat with a bump on his head from a tick I had removed a year earlier, with no luck. I was crushed.

Exactly 3 months after the move, a gray cat had wandered up to our house, looking fat and no worse for the wear. My mom called that cat “Lady Cat”, but didn’t think Lady Cat was our lost cat, Ntée. I checked for the bump. It was there. He’d survived 3 months on his own and still found his way home to us! Amazing!

Life continued, as I moved out and Ntée became my parents cat. I’d often find him sprawled on my dad’s chest while my dad sat on the couch. I’d smile at how those 2 “teenagers” nurtured each other.

Ntée passed away a couple of days ago, at 18 years old. I’m not nearly as crushed as I was when Kimo and Tonto died, but I will always remember my feisty teenaged cat, who left rodents on our doorstep more than once and showed me that it’s possible to survive in “the wild”, but it’s always comforting to be back home.

Rest in Peace, Ntée. I’m sure Heaven has been fully stocked with fat mice for you to catch.


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