My latest adoption, which took place in April last year, is a 17-year-old cat. He has one crossed eye, two ears that are positioned close together on the middle of his head and stand straight up, and a snout. He sits like a grasshopper and yowls during the day and sometimes at three in the morning.

He also bears a strong resemblance to actor Ian McKellan.

And I loved him madly the minute he set his four paws in my house.

His original name was something like Kitty, but when Judy Taylor from Pretty Good Cat brought him to me, I took one look at him and said, “Your name is Old Scratch.” It goes. I first saw his photo in an e-mail sent by Denise Reesha, a local Realtor who uses her contacts to home unfortunate cats and dogs. I had lost my 16-year-old, Woodbine, to a heart attack the previous month; he was the cat of my own heart and I was very, very sad. When I saw Old Scratch’s photo and read his story, I thought, this is horrible, kicked out of what looked like his forever home. His own teenage human, who’d had him since he was a kitten, brought him with great sadness to Judy. It broke her heart to give him up, but she knew that that was the best way to love him.

I thought, hmmm. I posted him on Facebook. I got a lot of Likes and several aww, how sads. I thought about him for the rest of the day. I thought about him before I went to bed. I was thinking about him when I got up. I turned on the computer, took down the post, and told Denise to let the rescuer know that I’d take him.

“Oh!” read the delighted e-mail. “You’ll love him! He’s very spry for his age!” To me, that meant that he was able to walk to his food dish, take a couple of bites, wash his nethers, and go to sleep for the next 12 hours. Boy, was I wrong. Judy brought him in, and he immediately started purring and butting me with his head.

“Would you like something to eat?” I asked. He seemed to think that that would be lovely, so I fixed him a plate. He ate with the appetite of a human teenager, making breathy purring noises as he did. Judy and I smiled at each other with delight. After lunch, he discovered a couple of cat toys in the room I’d set aside for him and started rolling around the futon playing with them.

I have two other cats who get along with each other and had loved Woodbine, so I figured that a week in the room to start would be good. When the week was up, I cracked the door open. Miss Brooks, the one-and-a-half-year-old (she’s two now), came sidling up to him, her head and back alternating in two opposite directions. Old Scratch padded up to her, said, “Charmed,” and went in search of the food dish. Mildred, the 13-year-old housewife, hissed once or twice and that was it. It didn’t take long for Old Scratch and Miss Brooks to chase each other around the house, nails scratching on the Pergo. Every now and then, Mildred takes a play-nip at his hind legs. Spry is an understatement.

Scratchie, as my friend Bryan calls him, is loved by all of us. He enthusiastically introduces himself to everyone who enters the house. He has a couple of issues—thyroid and kidney—so he takes meds and eats a special diet.

A week ago at this writing, Judy came by to see how he was doing, and she was pleased. I of course was pleased that she was pleased!

 “You certainly landed in the butter dish,” she told Scratchie. She’d brought some little play mice for the cats and a coffee cup for me. “I wanted to give you something,” she said.

“You already did, a few months ago,” I replied.

I don’t know how much time that Scratchie will have with us, but we’re all making sure that it will be quality time no matter what the quantity. And if Old Scratch is an example of a pretty good cat, I imagine that the excellent ones are pretty darn impressive.

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