A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES
Winston and Niles
By: Nancy A. Lusco
Daughter of Gordon Cox, Jr.
Dora Graduate: Class of 1943
Winston was named years before he came to live with us. Greg and I were just dating then, but we talked about the future. We were looking thru a magazine, and we saw him. The left page was a cat food ad showing a gray tabby, and the right page was an ad for cigarettes. We had said then that if we ever have a tabby, his name would be Winston. His full name is Winston Church.
Winston found me just before my thirtieth birthday. He was an unexpected surprise. We already had one cat, a seven-month-old calico bob-tailed cat, named Stinkerbell. She was somewhat large for her age. I think she was actually half bobcat. Her paws were very large and sometimes, she would just have a wild streak.
She had been with us for seven months and saw me through the end of an ill-fated pregnancy that I thought I would never survive. I felt as though Greg, tried everything to help me find my way back, but it was as if my spirit was missing.
We had buried our daughter just three months before. Lauren Frances Lusco was born November 3, 1999. She was very, very sick. We said goodbye, November 6, 1999. Unless you have ever watched your baby die, you cannot possible imagine the gaping hole that was left in my heart. I suppose when Greg saw the “free kitten” sign, he thought an addition would help. He called my office to tell me about the sign. I called the vet’s office immediately. The receptionist said only one male remained. I told her to hold him. When I saw him I realized he was more like six to eight months old. They said he was a barn cat. The family did not want them anymore. He was brought in with his sister. A woman had picked her up earlier that morning, but did not want him. I thought that was just terrible. Everyone knows that two does better than one. I stood behind the cage and tried to coax him out front. He was hiding behind his litter pan and all I could see were ears and a tail. I tried talking to him, but he would not move. When I moved out of his sight, I heard this tiny “mew”. I went back to the front of his cell and saw that he had his face pressed up to the cage and his whiskers were sticking thru. He was choosing me. Since Winston was “raised in a barn” I knew he would not be riding home on my shoulder. I had to borrow a box.
We pulled into our driveway, and Stinkerbell met us at the door. Boy was she surprised. We did not think about asking her if she wanted a brother. I guess we should have because she was NOT happy. She sniffed the box, slapped it and ran into the kitchen.
I lifted the lid and tried to take Winston from the box. He was faster than I was, and bolted. He ran around the den, into the kitchen, which was a mistake. Stinkerbell was there waiting on him. She actually rolled her eyes, glared at me and waited at the door. I though she would get used to the idea, but I was wrong. Winston spent most of that day pacing and crying. He was loud, really loud. He was under the bed before we knew it and stayed there. Greg and I went on about the house making supper and such. We were in the den watching TV and we heard this crying coming from upstairs. I crept up and saw Winston up in front of the bathroom mirror looking at him and crying. I told Greg that he must think his reflection was his sister. They said that Winston and his sister looked identical.
It took nearly a month for Winston to settle into our home. Until then, he would scale the garage door and perch on top of it. We had the devil of a time catching him when it was time for his doctor appointments. It was a two man and a broom operation, literally.
We hoped that Stinkerbell would tolerate him if not accept him, however, that was not in the cards. Stinkerbell was determined it was either him or her
Winston loved her kitty condo. When she would perch on the top bunk of her kitty condo, Win would sneak into the cubby below. She never knew.
If we boarded them with the vet, they would have to stay in separate cages because she would slap him. If riding in the car, their crates had to be facing opposite directions, as she would stick her paws thru and try to scratch him.
That Memorial Day, Stinker ran off to join the Navy. That is what we tell Winston. We put up signs and searched the neighborhood to no avail. We had two days and nights with just the Win Man. For whatever reason, he missed her. He ran from room to room crying. He stayed all night inside that first night. It was not an easy night either. He would lie down then pace, cry, and start all over again. Sometimes, he would jump on the bed and just stare at us. He was so sad.
Our lives changed for the better in a very short time. Even though we missed Stinkerbell, we knew that Winston deserved better.
I called our vet the next morning, and told her what had happened . I did not know what to do for him, but then it hit me “two always do better than one”. She said she had just the kitten for me. I asked what kind and if it was a boy or girl. I like to be prepared and have the name picked already. They said it looked to be a Siamese and it was a girl.
Well, a girl. I had no idea what to name another girl, in fact, Greg and I had decided after all the bad luck we seem to have with girls, that we‘d never, ever have another girl in the house. I called Greg at work, and we decided on Lila. I was soon holding “her”. I took the little ball of fur and was surprised to see that “she” was a “he” and the name Niles came to mind.
I talked to our vet about how he came to her. An older woman with several cats found him. He was about five weeks old. She could not keep him with all of her resident cats. Lucky for me, the woman brought him to Dr. Z, and Dr. Z hid him in the back to save him until the time was right.
His initial exam went fine. He was feisty, but did not talk much. Not a typical Siamese I thought. They were supposed to be big talkers. The tip of his right ear was missing. Other than that, he was perfect. He had bright blue eyes, black ears, paws, tail and nose. He was our baby. He rode home sitting on my shoulder looking at himself in the rearview mirror. He never made a sound.
Greg missed the introduction. I carried Niles inside our home and let Win in from the garage. They looked at each other; Niles was about a quarter of the size of Win. They sniffed and Win hissed. I held my breath. They then nosed up and started to play chase. Win had a brother at last. The boys, as we call them did not sleep inside the house but in the garage. You see, Greg had not yet converted to the idea of inside cats.
It did not take long for them to make the move from the garage to the house. That Thanksgiving Greg and I went to Panama City. We decided that we could leave them home if his parents came by to feed them and check their litter box.
The day after Thanksgiving, we called Greg’s parents to check on the boys. They could not find the key to our house and could only look in the window at the boys. Well, I was ready to come home then, but we could not leave until the next morning. Panama City was in the middle of a storm and there had been reports of a tornado off the Dan Russell Pier. It was a long night with the storms and all, not to mention wondering what my boys were doing.
Once home, we ran thru the house to check on them. We found them huddled inside the doghouse. They have been inside ever since. Of course, we have had “episodes”. Like the day Winston taught Niles the art of sharpening their claws on leather furniture. We now have slipcovers. Leather, yikes, what was I thinking?
I consider my boys kind of like an American Express commercial.
Revolution treatments each once a month for six months, $197.00; doctor visits $150.00 to $300.00; toys $10.00; my boys marking me as belonging to them, priceless.
Niles is kind of a ham in front of the camera. Here he is catching up on his reading.
Over the years we’ve learned a lot about one another. For instance, Niles likes to help us with dinner.
Here he is helping Greg skewer shrimp. Win likes to watch and eat it.
There is no way I could come to an end of the story of Winston and Niles, for our lives continue to be a never-ending story. An incredible journey filled with many laughs, tears and an abundance of cat hair.