Cinders and the Saddest Toy Cat

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An early drawing of Cinders.

Once upon a time, many years ago, a newly 10 year old me got a kitten for my birthday and named him Cinders. I’d actually been visiting him for several weeks–his mother belonged to neighbors–and the whole period was thrilling. Overwhelming. So I did what I always do when overwhelmed and overexcited: I blogged about it.

OK, no. This was in premordial soup days, long before blogs. Instead, I did what people did back then, and what I still do much of the time nowadays: I wrote it down on paper. Mom gave me a notebook and I started a logbook about Cinders, recording dates and times and his weight and length and my impressions of everything all along the way.

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Neutering and death dates, too? OK, kid, you’re weird.
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A sample page.

Transcription of the above: Oct 16, 1986  When kittens are little (10 days to 6 weeks) their eyes are a milky blue color. Then they turn to the color they will be when they are an adult. Cinders is 6 weeks old. His eyes are yellow. Tomorrow he is coming to live at my house. I have everything ready. I bought him a brush, I bought him food and food and water bowls, I made him a bed, and I got him used to me. Everything is ready…

There weren’t cell phone cameras to upload pictures to Facebook and Instagram, so I drew him over and over again, memorizing every spot and splotch of his little black and white tailless self. (His mother also had no more than a powder puff of a tail, and the same went for many of his siblings. I don’t know if there was a Manx in his background or just an off genetic mutation, but there are still a handful of true-breeding near-tailless cats in the region where I grew up, along with polydactyl cats.)

He was an interesting guy. Followed me like a dog. Slept on my bed at night. And, as Mom wrote in this guest post…er, note, he had a pretty definite schedule.

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Transcription: Guest Notes 1/12/87  Cinders spend several hours last night playing with a tangle of pipecleaners. He seems to have developed a regular routine of sleep and play. In midmorning he always wrestles a stuffed gray cat with blue eyes. It’s quite a sight.   Mom

He thoroughly enjoyed beating the crap out of this little guy.

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This was, in a way, my first cat, from when I was really little. When Cinders came along, he decided it was his buddy. When I eventually moved away from home, he–now rahther the worse for wear–came along. I’d all but forgotten about him, but when I got the current kittens, one of them found the sad little grey fluff in the back of a drawer and gleefully yanked him out. They’ve been dragging him all around the house ever since. I’ll find him on the bed, or by the couch, or abandoned as they dash for the door to greet me.

He’s deeeeefinitely seen better days, to say the least. Not only has he been clobbered by at least three unkind kittens over a nearly thirty year period, he’s been washed and dried none too gently. His whiskers are…erratic. But in velveteen rabbit terms, he’s approaching reality. He has been loved hard. And I can’t help feeling like Mom is watching these new kittens and smiling. Who knows, maybe Cinders is, too.

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