My Black Cat Appreciation Day Story

Two years ago, we adopted Reno (the Demon Kitten) from a Community Concern for Cats mobile adoption unit at the Petco in Lafayette CA. I cannot do the browsing-cages-at-the-shelter thing; it rips my heart apart that I can’t adopt every single one. Instead, I search online using

When we adopted Reno, we wanted a young companion for Banzai. Since Banzai was a flamepoint Siamese, we wanted a second flamepoint. I’d fallen in love with his orange creamsicle coloring and the easygoing purrsonality.

The first flamepoint we went to see–Rosie–was at a nearby Petsmart adoption unit. She had an Evinrude motor, licked Mr TF’s face (yep, still tasty!) and climbed all over us. I was smitten. But she had been spoken for and we didn’t get the chance to adopt her.

Reno was next.

He was not as outgoing as Rosie, but he’d just gotten up from a nap, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was in a cage with his brother, Homer. Carol, the rescue organization’s adoption lady, tried cajoling us into taking the both of them, but Mr TF has always had a strict three cat limit and we had to decline.

We changed his name to Reno, one of the characters in the movie, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.

Reno was a handful! He was a packrat. Every morning he’d pry the drain stopper out of the sink in the upstairs bathroom, and hide it downstairs. He’d unplug the cat water fountain, drag it across the kitchen floor slopping water everywhere, then disassemble it. He wanted to play like a maniac, but Banzai had become a chillaxin adolescent, and spurned many of his attempts to play.

Then the pee problems started.

He liked peeing on The New Yorker before I read it, in the cat beds, and then on OUR bed, which we then had to cover with a plastic shower curtain. If I left any sort of papers on the dining room table I’d find them drenched the next morning.

We took him to the vet, making sure it was a behavioral, not medical problem, and then we had him neutered. Fortunately, Dr Elsey’s Litter Attractant came to the rescue and the problem petered out.

I contacted Carol, the rescue lady, so that I could send her the paperwork showing he’d been fixed (a requirement for adoption). She mentioned that Reno’s brother, Homer, had still not been adopted. After nearly five months of going to the adoption unit every weekend, he had not found a furever home…because he is black. His chances grew slimmer each week as he aged out of cute kittenhood and became just another adult black cat. He had gone through a failed adoption early on. The idiots who adopted his two siblings were convinced to adopt him, too. They returned him within 24 hours, complaining that he “played too much.”

I mentioned this to Mr TF, hoping he’d change his mind and let us have just one more cat. Initially it was a no, but later that day he said he thought we should, because Reno needed a pal. And hey, what’s one more, anyway?
We kept his rescue name, because what could be more purrfect than having a black cat named Homer, just like Gwen Cooper’s Homer, the subject of Gwen’s NYT best seller, Homer’s Odyssey?

It took a good two minutes from the time Homer came through our front door for Homer and Reno to realize they were reunited bros. They’ve been inseparable ever since.

Homer is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever had. His presence transformed the cat dynamics in the house. He worked hard to ingratiate himself to Tripper the alpha cat. They’re now besties. Once he and Trip became BFFs, Tripp decided that Banzai wasn’t such a pain after all, and they’re now BFFs, too.

Homer has taught Trip how to play. Even though it doesn’t always work out that well for Homer–he lies on his back and paws at Tripp to play with him, and Tripp jumps atop him, squeezing every molecule of air from his lungs–Homer purrsists.

Banzai has reconsidered his reluctance to play with Reno. Reno and Homer have epic play sessions, and Banzai has decided it can be kinda fun, so he joins in. This is the first time in my life that my entire cat household has lived in complete harmony, all because of Homer.

Homer is gorgeous, all black but for three white hairs on his tummy. He’s vocal, but speaks in monosyllables–more like “me” than “meoooow.” He dutifully “buries” any cat food he sees that isn’t a flavor he wants to eat at that moment. He loves YouTube.

Not only is my life better for having adopted Homer, but the lives of our other three cats are better as well. He was a gift sent from the heavens.


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  1. Summer says:

    Homer needed to be part of your household!

  2. Frank Sterle Jr says:

    In keeping with the all-too-fleeting Black Cat Appreciation Day (August 17) ….
    THAT BLACK CAT SHE INVADED HIS DREAMS … She laid by his bared feet / at the foot of his bed / though in his dream they’d meet / which they did in his head. // For this sleek black feline / she’d been in there before / such she’d never decline / as that cat he’d adore. // A myth it couldn’t be / that her claws touched his toes / as the dreaming did he / was about that she knows. // The dream she boldly caught / that night she did invade / was the dream she had sought / the dream she’d long delayed. // Within she placed her claws / upon his sleep-bound feet / all performed with no flaws / then and there they did meet. // Though not feeling abused / by prickling on his toes / he still looked down confused / at each of five toes, two rows. // Naught of her did he find / in his dream created / though back to wakened mind / he saw her and stated // ‘Mimi, it’s you—you rascal!’ / yet he still adored her / while finding comical / her response a smooth ‘murr’. // From the thick mattress down / she landed without woes / as he said ‘You little clown— / you leave alone my toes.’ // Thought she, ‘Again we’ll meet / as you dream fast asleep / when the toes on your feet / from my paws you cannot keep.’

    Ode To SIMON’s DRINKING PROBLEM … It’s clear dear cat you’ve had a water drink / For it hangs thick and low from your thin chin / As a large drop through which light rays glisten / Then a flicker of your tongue’s tip quite pink / Comes with a sway of your tail, its kink / So noticed like that water drop again / (And you without a little silk napkin) / Your habit’s one endearingly distinct. // Plus your drinking problem leaves us no stink / Like old food stuff or hard liquor like gin / And into a bad thing you didn’t sink / You’ve committed naught resembling a sin / Habits can still be dropped in an eye’s blink / While having you near’s my mind’s medicine.

    THAT YOUNG BLACK CAT—SHE NEEDED SOMETHING … ‘If only I had something new,’ / she thought, ‘something adventurous / to do, like when the fields grew tall, fields from which wild fowl fed and flew’; / she, feline feisty and precious, / needed something or to climb the wall. // She walked over to the window pane / and looked out to the neighbouring homes / to where she hoped to find something / —something new, beyond the back lane, / rocky road, where she’d often roam, / to where her eyes would be wandering. // And when her attention was caught / by the towering shingled roof / sheltering the large corner store, / she at once decided she ought / to climb to its black peak as proof / of her worth to those who did her adore. // Through the yards one by one she went, / glancing around this and that corner, / over then under fences tall / till she stood at the wall she’d meant / to conquer, as a foreigner, / without any fear that she’d fall. // She looked to the two garbage cans / leaning against the wooden shed, / right next to the store that was so pink; / up she jumped, her feet and hands / reached the top by but a thread, / of no better place could she think. // Having achieved her noteworthy climb, / she gazed over to the swaying trees, / unaware that her hostess stood near; / at the bus stop, as passed the time, / the woman looked up, into the breeze, / and saw her pet feline who knew no fear. // Thus the feline had done something new / and not seeing her hostess’s stare, / she returned home fulfilled and content, / for from this day excitement she drew / and she thought again she’d climb and dare / those high places worthy of her scent.

  3. Nancy Vehrs says:

    We love you, Homer! It’s amazing how you made a household of four cats “work!” My very first family cat was Tony, an all-black cat. I developed my love of cats from him. Later, I adopted a housemate’s black cat, Gus, when our lease ran out and we all went our separate ways. Gus had bonded with my Maine Coon Cat Precious.

    Do you think that Homer might consider becoming a negotiator for world peace?


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