Nuggy: Sept., 1998 – June 16th, 2017
My wife and I moved into our first house in June of 1999. After a few months of settling in, the daughter of one of my wife’s friends got caught with a cat in her apartment, and had to get rid of him. A few days later, Nugs was living with us.
That was probably the last time we called him Nugs. We preferred Nuggy, and I think he did, too.
Nuggy had a lot of nicknames. Nugaboo, Nugglypuff, the Cat Man Do, Nuggyotto (I don’t know why, but Christine and I made sure never to miss Pokemon on Saturday mornings.) When the kids came along, they added to the list – Kitty Boom Boom was a favorite, and I have no idea where it came from. Everybody had their own names for Nuggy. Nuggy was a pretty friendly cat, once he warmed up to you, which didn’t take long.
I had a thought just now looking at Nuggy’s birthday in September, 1998. That was a month before Christine and I got married. It’s like Nuggy was just waiting for us to get ready to bring him home. “You don’t know it yet, but I’m on my way!” Some spatial-cosmic planetary alignment or something, but it seems like we were all meant to be together.
I still remember bringing Nuggy home that first evening. I borrowed a pet carrier from my mom, and drove my pickup out to Geauga County to get him. The girl, I don’t think I ever got her name, told Nuggy she was sorry and I helped her get him in the pet carrier. I put the carrier in the front seat of the Ranger and made sure it wouldn’t slide. I thanked the girl and waved goodbye.
The ride home was uneventful. Nuggy squeaked a few times, and I would talk to him. Nuggy seemed to relax. I put the Tribe game on the radio, the first of many we would share. Nuggy liked Indians baseball, especially a Tom Hamilton home run call.
And then we were home. I put the carrier in Nuggy’s room. Back then, Christine and I would get books and read about stuff we wanted to do. We picked up “Cats for Dummies,” and “Cats for Dummies” said you should have a safe room set up when you bring your cat home. We had a spare bedroom, so we used that. We had a cat bed, a few toys, a litter box, food and water bowls, and I left the open carrier in the room in, case Nuggy needed to get away for a bit. We stayed in the room and played with Nuggy and talked to him. Just getting to know each other.
It got late. We closed the door to Nuggy’s room and went to bed.
Nuggy was having none of that.
Nuggy was a lap kitty and a cuddler. He didn’t want to be alone.
And he let us know it with some of the most pitiful cries I’ve ever heard.
“What should we do?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe let him out to explore for a while. Then put him back in.”
Having lived with a cat before, Big Willard back at my parents house, I pretty much knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“Okay, but he’s not sleeping with us.”
“I know,” I said. That one was a coin toss I didn’t know which way would land.
Full disclosure: ya I did.
I opened the door to his room, and went back to bed, leaving our door open a little so he could hear us and know we didn’t leave him alone.
I don’t think I was back in bed two minutes before we felt something land at the foot of the bed and scurry up to the pillows between me and Christine. Nuggy curled up to claim the spot he would keep for the next decade or so, until he decided he’d rather take turns sleeping in the kids’ rooms.
Full disclosure: I kind of knew that was going to happen.
“Now what?” Christine asked.
“Just relax. He’s just checking things out. Making sure he knows where we are. He’ll go in a little bit.”
Nuggy snuggled in more.
“You’re not helping, Nuggy,” I thought.
“Looks like he’s making himself comfortable,” Christine said.
“Just pet him, he’ll be fine.”
I don’t know where Christine touched him, but she surprised Nuggy. He gave her a little nip with his snake-like reflexes.
Christine pulled her arm away and screamed, “He bit me!”
I turned on the light. “Let me see.” There were two pink welts running on Christine’s arm, mostly from her pulling away.
“You’re okay. It was just a warning nip.”
“How can you say that?”
“He didn’t even break the skin. If you didn’t pull your arm away, you couldn’t even see where he got you.”
“Have you seen his teeth? If he wanted to hurt you, he would have. You just surprised each other. He didn’t like where you pet him.”
Nuggy didn’t leave while all of this was going on. He sat up and watched, and even tried to cuddle up to Christian after a while.
“See? He’s sorry. Pet him on the head. They like their ears scratched, too.”
After a while, I turned out the light, and we laid back down. Nuggy went back to his spot between the pillows and snuggled in.
“I don’t think he’s going to leave,” Christine said.
“It doesn’t look that way, no.”
A few minutes passed.
“I think he has asthma,” Christine said.
“He doesn’t have asthma. He’s purring. It means he’s happy.”
More moments passed.
“I don’t know if I like this arrangement.”
“It’s his first night. Let him stay here. He feels safe. We can start closing him out tomorrow.”
That never happened.
We drifted off to sleep to the sound of the little kitty motor between us.