My Cat Ogden
My cat Ogden wandered into my life in October of 1992. It was my second year at Hampshire College, back when Hampshire allowed pets on campus. We had finally grown to know the area and be comfortable with getting around. Since Hampshire is located several miles from town, the only means of transportation for my friends and I were our feet or the bus, but it always seemed like it took forever for the bus to arrive. We began to explore on foot.

During one of adventures, we found a small gourmet store about half a mile from the college. We had to hike across an apple orchid to get there and we did so about once a week. We liked the cider and an occasional meal that the school had not prepared.

On one of our quests to eat "normal" food, we saw an animal scurry across the apple orchid. When we got closer, we noticed that it was a cat. He came right up to us, climbed up on my knee and head-butted me. He then ran off as a scurrying mouse caught his attention.

It seemed like on every trek after that, we ran into this charming little cat. It had been cold several days in a row and I vowed, as we voyaged across the apple orchid, that if we ran into the cat, I would take him home with me. The farmer who owned the orchid lived several miles away and there was no other possible home for him around. We assumed he was a stray. That day, we met up with the furry creature and, after some coaxing, managed to get him to come home with us.

We placed signs all around the small town - especially near the apple store. Two weeks went by and no one claimed him; I decided to adopt the little guy. The people in my dorm all gathered around one night, shouting out names for him. When my friend Dubby shouted out the name Ogden, we all agreed that the name suited him. We named the cat Ogden.

Since we knew nothing about this cat, we had to invent a background for him. Some of it we pieced together by observation and some of it we just made up. We made up Ogden's birthday. The vet said he was about a year old so we made the year before we found him his birth year. The day we officially decided to adopt him became his birthday. His birthday is October 22, 1991. Just like his birthday, we made up his breed. I have no idea if Ogden truly is a Maine Coon/Norwegian Forest Cat but since he looks like a cross between both, that's what I'll believe. He sorta looks like a Maine Coon and he sorta looks like a Norwegian Forest Cat. That's enough evidence for me.

Soon after we brought him home, we realized that this little kitty had been abused and probably by a man. Whenever a man walked into his room, Ogden would run and hide under the bed. It wasn't even one particular guy - short guys, tall guys, guys with long hair, guys with beards - they all made him nervous. Women, on the other hand, most certainly did not bother him. In fact, he went straight up to all of his women visitors and would kiss them.

We also soon discovered Ogden's fear of bathrooms. He wouldn't even go into our big dorm bathroom - which really didn't look like a bathroom at all. No one tried to get him wet, no one flushed the toilet in his presence and no one ran the faucet around him, but he still was afraid. He liked to sit outside the bathroom in the morning, waiting for me to come out, but he would not go in, no matter how long I took.

When we first found him, Ogden couldn't meow. At first we thought he just didn't want to meow, but then one day, his mouth opened and nothing - nothing - came out. One of the girls down the hall had a cat who always hissed at him. One day, Ogden had had enough and went to hiss back but nothing came out. His face scrunched up and his mouth opened, but nothing came out. He just couldn't make a sound. And then I took him home for the summer to live with my parents' cat. Big Foot knew how to meow and was very willing to teach Ogden just how to do it. By the end of the summer, Ogden was at least making noise. Five years later, there's a bit more sound, but he still has a pretty wimpy cry. Especially coming out of a fifteen pound cat.

After living with Ogden for six years, we've been through a lot together. He's overcome most of his fears, he's learned to play games and he's learned some words. He's moved five times in six years. He's also learned to be friends with rodents - the guinea pigs and the chinchilla, well maybe not the chinchilla. Muji bites Ogden too much.

Ogden's probably been on more plane rides than most humans. He flew home with me, riding on the plane, instead of down below with the luggage. He would fly home with me for Christmas break and then fly back to school for the spring semester. After finals, Ogden would help me pack and we would fly back home again, only to return to college in the fall. He's been frisked by airport security and yelled at by flight attendants who didn't like the fact that he wanted to stick his head out of a four square inch hole to see where he was as we walked onto the plane. The attendant was fearful that my 15 pound cat would somehow squeeze his way out of the little opening and bite all her first class passengers. Cuz, ya know, cats do that.

Ogden has overcome his fear of men. In fact, one of his best friends is my fiancÚ Jeff. I think after months and months of bribery, Ogden came to trust and understand the person sleeping next to me. Of course, the nightly ritual of Pounce and a game of string didn't hurt either. :-)

Ogden has also overcome his fear of bathrooms. In fact, every morning he races me into the bathroom and then peeks around the shower curtain, making certain that no one will jump out at him and splash him with water.

Ogden has learned to play many games. He's also learned many words. He likes to play hide-and-go-seek with me. He likes to play hit-mom-on-the-head and ring-around-the-kitchen. We stumbled on all of these games quite by accident but they can sometimes last for over an hour, until one of us (usually Ogden) gets bored and quits.

Ogden knows three words, which is quite amazing since most cats could care less. He runs to his bowl whenever the word Breakfast is uttered. His little ears perk up and his head snaps around to face the person who has spoken the word Pounce - it's a cat treat. And, finally, he knows his name. If he's not in the bedroom when I wake up in the morning, I call out his name and he comes running.

Ogden is one of the most friendly cats. He loves people....well, he loves me. He needs me to be around him. We call him "clingy cat." If I'm gone longer than a usual work day, Ogden follows me around the apartment, literally two inches from my feet. He cries as he follows me.

Ogden gives "kisses." He gets so happy that drool just oozes from his lips and drips all over. We're talking Niagara Falls. He also head-butts so hard I think he's going to knock me out one of these days.

At night, after he's had his Pounce and a game of string, he lays on my butt and takes a bath. When he's finished bathing, he climbs up on my pillow, lays his head on my forehead, buries his nose into my hair, and purrs himself to sleep.

I can't imagine what kind of person would give up this wonderful cat but it doesn't matter. There's no way that person is ever getting him back.

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