Somewhere among my belongings, either in boxes from my mom’s house or in something I already had in Maryland I found a formerly white envelope with the words Cinder Patrick, 1 year written on the front in red or dark pink ink. Inside was a small thatch of black fur.
Cinder was my second cat — my father, a self-described cat-hater, brought her home to me when I was 13. She was a one-person cat and everyone else hated her. We loved each other.
She lived through three moves, from my parent’s house to my first apartment, to Pittsburgh with Dean and me and finally to Alexandria where she died at the ripe old age of 17.
Sorry, Cinder, but this memory is going in the trash — the fur might go in the garden though.
I wrote this October 1966. I am not sure what grade I was in. Probably fourth.
I am a ten-year-old girl. My name is Dona Patrick. I live at 240 Heine Street, Elgin, Illinois. My brother’s name is Kevin. He is three years old. My mother’s name is Pat, but I call her Mom. My father’s name is Al but I call him Dad. I don’t know if I am pretty, but my dad says so.
When I got my cat, it was 5 months old. When I got my dog, he was eight months old. I was ten when my cat was born. I was six or seven when my brother was born. My aunt was married and I was the junior bridesmaid. My mom was a bridesmaid. So was my aunt. The bride’s girlfriend was the maid-of-honor. My brother was the ring bearer. Now I have a new uncle and I might have a new cousin. I hope it’s a girl. But if it is a boy, it’s his business.
I wrote this on November 3, 1970. I was in 8th grade and 14 years old. I got an A+/B for the paper. The teacher wrote at the end:
“Yes, there are times when tears are impossible, we just hurt so much.”
“Dona, you have told this beautifully, for you have made me feel as if I knew Puff and shared your hurt in having to give Puff away. Thanks for sharing it so well. By the way, you have a very interesting writing style. Keep it up.”
My take on this is: it is forced and feels stilted. It is too formal in parts, yet too informal in others. I do not consider this one of my better old writings. And why the question mark in the title?
My love for cats is very great. But my father is just the opposite, he hates cats. So I have had only one cat in my life. (I have a five-month-old kitten at the moment but she acts so much like a person I think of her as a sister). This cat — a white half Persian, male. Mother Persian, father unknown. Born in a box in a breezeway by the side of a garage. He was my “birthday cat” as I called him, but every cat or pet must have a name so I had to find one. I tried every name I could think of: Prince, Whitey, Snowball, Pumpkin, etc. I finally settled on Puff. Everyone laughed. I said I didn’t care because Puff had been my favorite story character in Dick, Jane, and Sally. Also, my favorite song was “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Sometimes I made up “real” names such as “Prince Puff Patrick” (PPP). Yes, Puff was my cat and I loved him.
One and a half years after I received Puff, my kitten had grown into a cat. A large, long, slim and beautiful cat. He was all white except for a long black or gray streak down his back from when my friend and I accidentally left Puff in the charcoal burrner overnight. I thought that Puff didn’t love me anymore for he had always faithfully returned home after a day outside.
Another time I thought I had lost Puff was when he was caught between the screen door and inside backdoor. Around midnight my father heard a strange noise coming from the back door. He must have thought that a burglar was trying to get into the house for he went and opened it and was surprised to see a white streak running up the steps and under the table.
Finally, the sad part of this gleeful lifetime must be told for I have put it off long enough. Although Puff and I had happy times together, there were still some bad ones. For Puff was getting to be a nuisance. He would get hold of a piece of wool or a sock or any material and eat a big hole in the middle. Puff also, like any other cat, had a desire to catch and eat birds and rabbits.
So my mother suggested that we take Puff to Wisconsin for my grandparents’ house to catch mice. Naturally, I didn’t want to give up “my little cat.” After weeks of pondering about what to do with Puff, we finally decided on giving him to my Aunt and Uncle to take to a farm. By that time I had started to dislike Puff, or so I thought, for the cat would make my father angry, so angry he would get angry with me and that made me angry. The cat would sit in the middle of the living room and pull his hair out. Also, the cat was getting mean, very mean. He even made a sort of growling noise in his throat when he ate. This noise was not purring, he never purred, not even when he was a little kitten.
Well, the day came when my parents asked my Aunt and Uncle to come and take my cat to his destination. My mother tried to tell me that Puff would be happier at the farm, but I really didn’t care about anything at all anymore. My cat was leaving me. I handed my cat to my Aunt and I think she could see a tear in my eye. I gave Puff one last kiss and after they left I went into my room. I didn’t cry, I couldn’t cry. I was beyond crying.
The next day we received a call from my Aunt and Uncle saying that about halfway [to the farm] Puff jumped out the window, which was down about 6 inches. He didn’t get run over, but he ran into a cornfield. This was the last time anyone in my family saw my cat, Puff.
Now that I have heard of Pica disease in cats, I am pretty sure Puff’s habit of eating fabric, pulling out his hair and his meanness came from an underlying issue that we didn’t consider.
Several years after Puff ran off into the cornfield my father did some appliance repair for someone not too far from the place where Puff disappeared. The family had a large, white cat who apparently walked out of a cornfield and into their lives years before my father did work there. He believed it was Puff. I hope it was.