Prior to Tiamo, we had Thugs. A cat. A big cat. A big cat with black tuffs on his ears and beautiful green eyes. He had gray, white and black swirls on his sides and strips on his tail. He was a cat that was king of his domain and by gawd, he knew it. He was unusual and unique. Born into a barn cat litter, Thugs was the “bully” of the bunch. He was a little Thug in the true sense of the word. As a kitten, he would pounce on his litter mates, playing rough and acting tough. As an adult cat, he would sit on his perch and give us a look of pure disdain. Thugs was a great mouser and lizard chaser. We would find remnants of his hunt on our front door step. He tolerated being picked up but loved being petted, He mellowed as he aged, he loved to sit on Malcolm’s firm six-pack abs (hee hee) as Malcolm read the New York Times on the couch. Cold mornings would find him curled up on our down pillows next to us, basking the comfort of the blanket’s warmth, evenings he would follow us from room to room waiting for us to go to bed.
He was 14 years old when we moved to New Mexico, land of bobcats, coyotes, snakes, and cactus. Most felines in New Mexico don’t live much longer than a few years, especially if they sneak outdoors when the back-door gets opened. Thugs had already outlived his life expectancy for New Mexico by many, many years and now he was now on the bottom tier of the food chain. But he was savvy and smart and stayed safe and he had a curfew. We incorporated the 10 and 4 rule. Thugs could only be outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Luckily, he usually stayed close to the house or napped on the portal.
Thugs wasn’t too happy with us when we brought Tiamo into the family. He let Tiamo know real quick who was the boss with sharp claws to Tiamo’s curious nose within 5 minutes of being introduced. Tiamo learned to keep her distance and in the beginning wouldn’t come into the room if Thugs was already there. Tiamo would sit in the doorway, waiting for Thugs to move far enough away for her to enter. If Thugs was on the couch, Tiamo would give him a wide berth around, eyeing the distance between cat claws and her nose. Once Thugs trapped Tiamo in the utility room. Laying down in the middle of the entryway, Thugs calmly cleaned himself, while Tiamo was nervously trying to figure out how to get around him and out of the room. Within three months, they were inseparable. Where Thugs went, Tiamo followed. At five months, Thugs was strolling underneath Tiamo’s belly and at 9 months we would find them curled up together, Thugs gently purring, Tiamo emitting soft snores as she lay sleeping. When they both were on the bed, Thugs would knead Tiamo until one of them would tired of the motion and jump off the bed.
At 17, Thugs was still going strong, abet slower, he had some hearing loss, and his vision was less clear. Tiamo became his protector. If Thugs was outside, Tiamo was his shadow, following Thugs through the junipers and chamiso, keeping tabs on his whereabouts. When Thug’s 4 o’clock curfew hit, we would call Tiamo to “go get Thugs”. Tiamo would round-up Thugs and herd him into the house. “Find Thugs” was one of Tiamo’s favorite games. Come close to curfew time and Tiamo would be sitting by the door, tail wagging, eagerly waiting to go “Find Thugs”.
When Thugs was 19 years old, he was too old to be let out. He slept most of the time but could still jump up on the bed and knead Tiamo. At 21 years, our little bully was aged and tired. Eating less, losing weight, Thug’s curfew was up. He lived to the ripe ol’ age of 21, almost 22 years of age. Twenty-one years! Amazing!
Thugs was an amazing cat. Tiamo and Thugs had an amazing friendship. We should be so fortunate to have a companion to knead.