I lived alone for the first time in 2001, in the same building I first lived in my first two years in Canada, in my father’s apartment. It was a cooperative building, therefore us, the residents, would take care of the cleaning and administration. The rent was affordable compared to other buildings for that reason.
During my moving week, when I was already settled, I decided that it was time to make one of my big dreams come true: adopt a cat. Since dogs were not allowed because of the noise they make, only cats were. So I went to the society for the protection of animals to adopt one, a kitten to be precise.
I saw several ones, however when they told they cost 100 dollars for the adoption, I found that a bit pricey. I had just moved and haven’t find a steady job yet, I was just a student, so I didn’t have a lot of extra money left. On my way back, I saw a new pet shop near my place: the kittens were 30 dollars, so I decided to buy one there and it was already vaccinated and everything!
I took one from one the small cages to take a better look at him, and noticed it seemed a bit anxious… I put it back into the cage and took the other one. A small three-month old, gray and white. As soon as I put it in my arms, it started purring and seemed very happy. “This is definitely my cat”, I told myself.
And it remained my all his life. To me, this adoption meant for “for life”, I took it very seriously. Hogan arrived at my apartment and got really cozy as if he was born there. I gave him that name because it’s the name of my street and my cooperative building. It seemed very appropriate after I’ve given it a lot of thought.
He already knew how to use his litter box, how to eat alone and followed me everywhere. One week, I had to travel to observe whales in the city of Tadoussac for the first time. So I had to entrust him to my father in the meantime. From the beginning, he got used to being independent, to my comings and goings, even though I knew that he preferred me being in the house, he didn’t complain much when I was not there.
I lived on the second floor. I never considered letting him going to the street, but the balcony overlooks an alley where no cars passed by and that is very safe. In the beginning, I wouldn’t let him go out, since to me he was too small and I was afraid that something might happen to him. So I started tying him with a harness-type strap and leaving him for a while on the balcony.
Once, he pulled his harness and was hanging from the balcony, thankfully, I saw the situation really quickly and nothing bad happened. I always told my father that Hogan was a suicidal cat after the incident! He insisted so much that I finally let him go out, and ever since the first time I did so, he came back every time I called his name.
He really won my trust.
Hogan did thousands of mischiefs.
Various times, he pushed my nail polish, spices and other things with his paws until they fell off the table… he then looked at all the mess on the floor with an innocent face.
Now that he’s a 12-year old adult cat, he doesn’t do all those things anymore… well, let’s just say, not that often.
Two weeks after moving, my mother came to visit for the first time.
She loved Hogan from the beginning and he was happy to meet another person he could ask food to (even though his bowl was always full).
We went through a moment of stress when we wanted to move a glass table that I’d bought from the neighbor who left me the apartment.
We realized it was about to fall down, as the table legs were attached to each other, so when moved, they all slid.
It was so heavy, and I let my mother carry it while I rushed to fetch my cat from under the table and lock him in the bathroom… once Hogan safe and sound, we undid it slowly until it fell on the floor and broke into pieces, but at least nobody was heart.
At two occasions, Hogan brought me two birds he’d hunted: once it was a starling bleeding that died within minutes, and the other time he brought a sparrow I was able to save and bring to my bird sanctuary. He used to drop them at the foot of my bed and stared at them with fascination. I don’t think he was serious about eating them.
Sometimes also he brought back pieces of chicken or sausage that he’d stolen from the neighbors.
Everybody knew him, he would come in through the windows and steal what those poor careless people left outside the fridge. I don’t let him eat what he finds since I don’t know where he get those things from. I take them from him, which doesn’t make him very happy.
One night, I got so scared… I was awaken by some noise I couldn’t distinguish clearly.
I started looking around and noticed Hogan was nowhere to be found… it seemed strange to me that possibly robbers broke into the apartment just to take my cat…
After a long search, I heard a noise inside the kitchen cabinet, and there was my precious Hogan. He managed to open it, get in and get locked inside. What a relief… it weren’t any thieves, extraterrestrials holding my cat hostage!
Hogan was the king of the neighborhood. Every cat was afraid of him: he chased after them, scratched them, and stared at them with his menacing eyes. When he was really mad, he we went into like a state of trance and moved in slow motion.
During these moment, I didn’t dare to touch him, thinking he wouldn’t recognize me.
He would only make exceptions with the young cats, he would spare their lives and whatnot. As long as they didn’t dare get close to him. I’ve seen many cats of various sizes running outside, and I always knew that the only thing making them run so fast was Hogan chasing after them. When he reached 5 years old, I decided to get him neutered.
I really didn’t want to, but he was behaving so badly, came back hurt and wounded the neighbor’s cats. One of them came to see me, lent me a transport cage, and gave me the phone number of a veterinary clinic where they operated on cats people find in the streets for an affordable price. Usually, veterinarians are very expensive.
I didn’t have any other choice but to bring him: he marked the neighbors’ balcony doors with his urine.
I brought him and lied to them in order for them to accept them.
Hogan was so sweet to me, he doesn’t want to bite me, even when I clipped his nails nor when I made take his bath… but the veterinarians told me that they could see he was a stray cat based on his behavior. It’s true, he doesn’t like strangers, unless they are in the apartment.
If people are in the house, Hogan wouldn’t hesitate in asking them for food, climbing on their lap or purses, or even sleeping on their clothes or bags they left on the couch. He already ruined three of them with his habit of sharpening his claws. Even though I bought him a carpet to that end.
Since he was small, he’s always been restless at night to the point he would sleep in the bathroom. During summer, I leave the bathroom window open so that he could come and go as he pleased. If I even forget to close the door, I will definitely wake up at 6 a.m. to see if I want to give him something more to eat.
He’s already used to me traveling, and to the people who cares for him in my absence. However, one day he showed me he was happy to see me.
He was seating by the window of the second floor with view on the street, and when I got out of the taxi that brought me from the airport.
I saw him and said: “Hogan!”. He got on his feet and started meowing happily. If he were a human being, it would’ve been as clear as if someone woke up from their nap and said:
What a surprise!”
Then, there’s the problem of the hairs everywhere: floors, bedspreads, clothes, furniture, etc. He loves when I clean, so I do it often to reduce the quantity of hairs.
Moreover, he always had a sensitive stomach, since kitten. One of the reasons is that he eats too quickly. So I often find his vomits on the floor. And if it gets really bad, I have to change his food. The veterinarians recommended some brands that were expensive, of course.
One summer, he had a great flea infection, and I was so allergic to the bites that I became desperate and bathed him several times with a special shampoo until they were all gone. Fortunately, they never came back.
One or twice, he had an indigestion after eating who knows what garbage to the point where he couldn’t eat for several days, with my greatest concern. A pet shop owner told me to feed him an egg with a syringe to give him a little bit of proteins. The next day, I found him meowing as he brought me to where his bowl was and started eating.
As if he knew how worried I was. Another time, when he was younger, I had the idea of putting a flea collar on him as preventive measure. I monitored him for several days to see if he was all right… but on the first day I had to go out, I came back to find blood paw prints all over the house, and Hogan lying on the bed with an awful face. He tried to take the collar off, and it got stuck in his mouth, which hurt him, then he desperately ran all around the house until exhaustion.
I was so sad. Thankfully, he got better despite the fact he was salivating a lot, which is the effect of the poisoning before it subsided. Never again would I do the same thing! Hogan was by my side during good and bad times. We spend so many winter evenings in my couch watching movies (when he was cold, he would go under the couch or stay next to the heater and didn’t want to go out), until this day. He always comes back to me when I call his name on the balcony. If he’s too far away, I hear him answering my call, and finally he arrives running and taking the stairs.
He’s a character… This year, I noticed he was really skinny. He was slowly losing weight, but I was still worried. I brought him to a vet and they found out he had hyperthyroidism, dental problems and a heart murmur. And yes, he was aging. They give pills twice a day for the rest of his life. I feed them to him by mixing them with soft food, sometimes he would spit them out and I would force feed him gently, without him fighting. They cleaned his teeth under anesthetic. I was so sad to leave for the day, but it all went well. I
didn’t agree to them taking out his teeth that were bad. I want to wait, he’s eating well and I don’t think that he’s suffering.
Since then, he has gained a lot of weight. He still follows me around all the time, asking for food with his loud meows, or looking for a rub or two, or wanting to drink water from the bathroom faucet only… spoiled, as always. I can’t wash his bowls or cut vegetables without him on the kitchen counter, by my side. That’s my Hogan, I never get tired of him. He’s always next to me and giving me all his love, especially when he’s hungry!
Ah, I forgot to tell you about the plants sold here called “catnip”, and also called “cat grass”. It belongs to the mint family and cats love it! They smell it, they eat it, they stir them up… and it has an effect similar to drugs: they start chasing their tail, rubbing the floor and meowing very loudly.
It lasts less than an hour, but just the smell of it make them crazy. It so entertaining to watch. Once, Hogan open the kitchen cabinet where I kept the catnip and started spreading it all over the house. He looked like a teenager who had drunk his parents liquor and started a last-minute party. Since that day, I keep the catnip at a very high place in the kitchen.
Author: Helena Aroyo