By John Clise
Pops was a dear feline friend of ours over the course of many years. He would come for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He stayed on the porch to get out of the rain, snow, heat, and other objectional weather.
Pops was first named The Big Headed Cat because… well… he had an enormous head compared to the rest of his body. After some consideration of the name, and realizing he was the father of most of the kittens roaming around our old home and property, his name was changed to Pops. He seemed more receptive to that name.
Pops was an independent cat. He avoided attempts at capture in an effort to get him to the veterinarian, or to just bring him in when it zero degrees outside. As the old saying goes… some birds weren’t meant to be caged. He was one of those birds.
The last time we saw him was just a a week before we moved. We were going to bring him with us, but I guess he had different ideas. He vanished. I went back several times looking for him, and had neighbors there on the lookout as well.
There were just one or two sightings for a few weeks after we moved, and then he was to be seen no more.
Over the course of time he was with us, he would come to the porch after a few days with the stuffing beaten out of him like he’d been battling a bear or a bobcat or some other vicious predator he’d been stalking to conflict.
The longest he was ever gone once he moved on to the front porch was a couple of weeks. We had begun to think he wasn’t coming back, and then one morning there he was waiting to be fed. He acted as though it was no big deal much to our delight he had returned. He didn’t seem any worse for wear from his absence.
His ears were scared and missing parts. His nose was scared. He had huge paws, as does his son Felix, who is currently asleep by my side.
As you can see he also had very long whiskers. His daughter Smokie, who is also sleeping nearby, also has a set of enormous whiskers. His third child, Bandit, moved to a new home shortly after we moved to Weston. Felix didn’t like that home and found his way home.
But back to Pops. He was a rugged kind of guy. It took a long time to get to be able pet his head. And that was about where the pets ended. He would poke his head above the screen to make it known he was ready to eat if he stopped by to find an empty food dish. About the best we could ever do to treat any of his bigger injuries was to splash some hydrogen peroxide on the wound from a short distance. That was an experience Pops did not care for at all.
We put blankets and towels on the porch in a box for him to lay in during the winter, though he seemed to prefer an old stack of empty Kit & Kaboodle cat food bags. He didn’t scratch anything. He didn’t “mark” his territory either. It was just apparently a known fact to other cats that the porch was property of Pops. No questions asked.
His children will be celebrating their 10th birthdays in February of 2021. They were born in the trunk of an old apple tree in our back yard. The tree was long dead and rotten from the inside out. A few months after they were born, the tree fell over in a strong storm. I used a 16 pound sledge hammer to break up the remains of the tree into burnable parts.
By the time the tree fell the kittens were indoor residents. They do not care for the out of doors at all.
He would watch them playing on the living room through the screen door, though he refused to come inside for any reason. He would watch with great attention to them as they rolled around chasing each other and their own tails.
I haven’t seen Pops in seven years, but I think of him often with fond thoughts. I hope he found the home he was looking for, or is still out there somewhere roaming life on his own terms.