Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ernie - 1995-2011

Its been 5 weeks since we lost Ernie.  I'm getting better (the first week was ROUGH) but I sure do miss him.

Ernie came to us very randomly.  I lived with 2 other girls in a 2 story duplex.  Swift was really insane and she needed a buddy.  A friend of my evil roommate had Ernie and "couldn't keep him because he wasn't supposed to have pets".  (isn't that something you should check on before you get a pet?).  The guy's roommates throught Ernie was too hyper, so they'd put him in a box and blow pot smoke in the box to chill him out.  Poor kitty sneezed for a year and had what I call the "perma-munchies".  The guy came by on a Friday, was supposed to check in on Monday to see how things were working, but he never came back.  I was fairly indifferent to cats.  My roommates wanted a cat, I had an iguana.  But Ernie had different plans - he chose me as my human and stole my heart.  (just typing this is making me cry again - UGH).  Ernie was tiny when we got him - maybe 6 weeks old and so small he'd stand in the palm of your hand.  He grew to be a big monster kitty - weighing 15 lbs at his heaviest.  He was obstinant, crabby, stand-off-ish, hungry, a pain in the ass, but he could also be sweet, and warm, and gave me kisses on demand.  He was very much an "on my own terms" type of cat - pretty much wanting to be left alone until he decided to grace the humans with his prescence.  That, or if you had food, he was your best friend.  At least until the food went away.  Even though he preferred to be left alone, he was very tolerant of my affections.  He'd let me flip him over to smother his belly in kisses, pet him on demand, hold him upside-down.  Once he started growling, I'd play kitty-bagpipes (growling edition) by squeezing him.  He would eventually have enough (and boy, you would KNOW it), but generally, he put up a front of a tough kitty but was really a big teddy bear of a cat.

Ernie didn't meow (unless he was in the car, and then it was the most pathetic, mournful meow).  He chirped and squeaked.  Especially around dinner time, where anytime we would stand up, he'd take off for the kitchen (where the food was locked up) and made sort of a peeling out (like a car) chirping noise. 

Most of the time he didn't acknowledge humans, unless I'd hurt myself.  I'm clumsy and it was not unusual for me to drop something on my foot or walk into a wall.  I'd invariably do something, drop to the floor yelling in pain.  Will would ignore me.  Ernie would come running, looking very concerned, to make sure I was ok.

He loved all things food and was such a pain in the ass that we couldn't leave food out in the open.  Even if it was in plastic or in tupperware.  He would actually try (and sometimes succeed) in eating through the tupperware to get to the food.  No food item was safe, even for a short amount of time.  I can't even begin to say how many times I was cooling muffins on the stove to find little Ernie-munch marks in the tops of them - while they were still hot.

Ernie hated little kids until a few years ago.  Hated them to the point where he'd just hide under the bed.  One night we were babysitting for a friend and were having dinner in the kitchen.  It was also kitty-dinner time.  Poor Ernie, as much as he loved food, he REALLY hated kids - and his dinner was in the kitchen with the kids.  He really couldn't decide between eating or running.  It was pretty funny.

Ok, enough stories, although there are 16 years of them.  Just a few more random things about him and some pictures.

  • Ernie-monster
  • Ernesto (when we were feeling Latin)
  • Bug (his first nickname)
  • Bugger
  • Rat
  • Raccoon (he had a racoon tail and had very raccoon-like traits when it came to food)
  • Boo
Favorite things:
  • sunbeams - he LOVED to lie belly up in the sun
  • blankets which were orange
  • food, especially squash (seriously, he'd go crazy for squash).  But really, he just loved food.
  • Body slamming Swift
  • acting as a paper weight.  Really, any loose paper or bag around on the floor and he was ON IT, holding it down.
  • He would never cuddle or sleep with us until wintertime.  I guess he was cold.  So at night, around 8:30 (or after dinner), he'd decide to cuddle on me for about an hour or so, until he got too warm.  I'd go to bed and wake up at some point in the night with a very large cat sprawled across my chest (back toes at my chin).  If you acknowlegded his presence by petting him, he would leave, only to come back when you were asleep again.  ("do not let the humans know I need them!"
  • One time I had a dream that a snake was biting my toe.  Turned out it was Ernie.  I kicked the "snake" in my sleep and sent him flying.  Oops.
  • During our last move (from Houston to Denver) he did NOT like our Oklahoma hotel.  AT ALL.  He was fine on the drive but when we got to the hotel - wow.  Unhappy cat.  He growled non-stop.  Walking around - growl.  Eating - growling WHILE eating.  Peeing in the litter box - growling while he did his thing.  He hopped up on the bed to be near us, but wouldn't let us touch him.  Poor guy.  Fortunately he was better when we got to Denver.  Maybe he just didn't like Oklahoma?
  • Repeatedly, the vet lectured me about his weight.  Poor guy was on diet food.  What was I supposed to do next, put him on a treadmill?
  • He loved catnip toys - so much that I had to put a playing time limit on him.  If he went longer than 5 minutes, his toy would be gutted, catnip extracted.
  • He fetched, although not on command.  This started when he was a kitten, I tossed a milk ring and he fetched it.  At least once a week for most of his life, we'd play fetch.  Our Houston house had a long tile hallway, which was perfect for fetching.  Early morning was usually good for fetch, although he would also decide that my bedtime was good too.
  • He had the BEST PURR EVER.  Very loud, easy to start.  And when he was very happy, he would get this high-pitched squeak to his purr.
I'm glad that he chose me as his human. :)

Feb 1996 - Ernie was maybe 6 months old.  We just had our typical week where it never got above zero degrees, and this day was sunny and in the 20's.  It was a wonderful day.  For some reason, we thought it would be amusing to take the kitties out in the snow.
wiggly kitties- Feb 1995

Feb 1995

Houston - June 1998.  Ernie and Sumo

My favorite photo of Ernie.  This captured how he would look at me

How can you resist a belly like this??

typical monorail cat pose

cat-skin rug
classic sunbeam pose


more napping sprawl

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