Thomas wasn’t supposed to come live with me. He was supposed to go live on a farm. If a woman had done what she had said she was going to do, he never would have come home with me. He would have spent time chasing bugs and mice on a farm. Who knows? All I know is I’m glad it worked out as it did.
I first saw a little kitten hanging around outside a hair salon a few blocks from my house. I assumed he belonged to someone, but I didn’t see anyone to ask. The place where he stayed was right next to a busy road and it was a block away from a busy highway. So it wasn’t a safe place for a kitten.
I finally got the chance to ask someone after a few days. The salon was closed, but one of the haircutters was there and happened to step outside as I was passing by. She said he had been there for a couple of weeks, but nobody knew anything about him other than that he was skinny and reasonably friendly. We talked about it for a little while and she decided she was going to take him to live at someone’s farm. She seemed sincere, so I assumed he was going to have a home. She said she was going to take him the next day.
The next day came and went, but the kitten was still there. Another day passed and he was still there again when I walked by. Then another day and another. After it had been a week, I couldn’t keep leaving him out there alone. I scooped him up and walked home with him in my arms. He purred as I walked.
When he joined the household, there were only two other cats. Oscar was the senior cat at 5 years of age, and Henry was only 1 year old. Thomas and Henry became friends quickly. They were soon sleeping together and were quite happy with each other. Oscar, on the other hand, never forgave me for allowing Henry in, much less Thomas and all the ones who came after him.
Other than spending some of his time with Henry, though, Thomas was a loner, and he’s become more of one with age. He’s about 17 years old now, so he’s been around long enough to see other cats and dogs come and go. He’s still healthy and happy — but he spends his time alone or in my lap, not with the others.
He’s among the calmest and most good-natured cats I’ve ever had. He will purr at the drop of a hat and won’t complain about much of anything.
As a kitten, he was the most determined fellow I’d ever seen. If he attempted something — whether it was picking up a piece of food with his paw or moving an object or pretty much anything he tried — he would work and work and work until he did it, if it was even possible. He never seemed frustrated. He just seemed focused. That’s how he got his name. Thomas Edison tried thousands of materials as the filament of the light bulb he was trying to make. They all kept failing, but he kept trying patiently, over and over. Thomas has always done the same thing, in his own cat way.
Even though Thomas has been a loner, I’ll leave you with one odd exception that I still can’t explain. A few years ago, the patriarch of my cat colony was dying. Remember Oscar, the one who never would let Thomas (or any other cat) near him? As Oscar lay dying for his last day or so, Thomas wouldn’t leave him. For about the last 36 hours of Oscar’s life, Thomas stayed right with him, wherever he was. He even skipped eating that day. The picture at the bottom of the column is from that day, and that’s Oscar in his last few hours.
For whatever reason, Thomas seemed to know that something serious was wrong. What sort of instinct was that? I have no idea. All I know is that it was touching to see that he wouldn’t leave his old companion’s side, even if Oscar had never cared for him. That’s just the kind of cat Thomas has been. He’s calm and aloof, but when push comes to shove, he’s still loving and kind. He’s been a very good friend.