Ozzie is a short-haired tiger cat with a personality to fit a Rock Star. He’s now only a few months away from his first birthday and, quite frankly, has quite a few of us wrapped around his little toes with their extremely sharp nails.
My boyfriend Don Welch’s son Dane and his then girlfriend Shelbi Sellers acquired Ozzie from the SPCA of Central Florida. Upon his arrival, Ozzie was a precocious kitten bravely exploring his new surroundings and getting to know his new “family.”
From Day One, Dane and Shelbi rough-housed with Ozzie to the point that sometimes I cautioned them about being too rough with such a small kitty. However, Ozzie never complained and seemingly enjoyed the wrestling and relentless chasing, and he always came back for more.
Ozzie sleeps with Dane at night and Don and I developed the habit of letting let him out of Dane’s bedroom to visit with us in the mornings. He is quite attached to Don and loves to lick his morning beard and offer occasional love bites. I think Ozzie likes the feel of Don’s whiskers against his rough tongue. At night, he also likes to snuggle with Don in their favorite chair as he watches TV. He even allows Don to trim his nails without too much struggling which has become a blessing in saving his leather furniture from scratches.
In the mornings, Ozzie also makes time to snuggle with me as I drink my hot tea. It’s our special time prior to his going out on to the back porch to explore the outside world and stalk squirrels through the pool screening. Out of everyone, I am the chief cat player and spend countless amounts of time on the floor tempting Ozzie with his many cat toys. I also pose my hand like a cat claw in the air in front of his face and taunt him to choose just the right moment for an aggressively friendly attack.
Shelbi had a habit of greeting Ozzie by capturing him and flipping him upside down. I think he actually likes that view of the world as he generally tolerated her affectionate back flips.
As he grew and matured into a teenaged cat, Ozzie demonstrated a desire to expand his world outside of the house by escaping at every opportunity. He’d sit by the door and race out through our legs and climb up the nearest tree. Invariably, he’d select the most inconvenient times to escape as it usually occurred when we are all rushed to get somewhere. Many times, he delayed departures while we coaxed him down from trees or tracked him down to lure him back into the house.
One particular night, Ozzie ventured out and we all worried when no one could find him. The next morning, he popped out from underneath Dane’s car in the driveway. Another night, he escaped without anyone’s knowledge and could not be found. The next morning, I heard mysterious meowing and he sauntered in the opened front door like it was normal being out all night.
On probably the coldest night of the year, he escaped through a hole he’d punched in the pool screening. When Don and I arrived home, Dane frustratingly informed us that Ozzie was out and that he had given up on his search for him.
Don and I bundled up and braved the cold as we valiantly went out to search for the little escape artist. We both worried about him spending the night out in the freezing temperatures. Fortunately, we located Ozzie casually walking along the top of the fence in the back yard as if he didn’t have a care in the world. We’ve since progressed to allowing Ozzie to venture out of the house into the outside world on his own which makes for easier departures.
During the holidays, we put up the Christmas tree and Ozzie immediately thought it was his personal, indoor play tree. He climbed up it every chance he got and repeatedly knocked it over and into the wall. Don purchased a new string of LED lights for the tree and Ozzie immediately chewed through the strand leaving the bottom half of the tree dark for the remainder of the holidays.
We left the tree up and undecorated with the hopes that its novelty would soon wear off. After more than a week, I eventually braved what I thought would be an impending disaster and decorated the Christmas tree. Ozzie immediately took up residence underneath it and became fascinated and amused not so much now with climbing the tree, but playing with the ornaments and batting them off every chance he got. Throughout the holidays, I constantly picked up the scattered ornaments and redecorated the tree.
Ozzie’s rare gift is his innate ability to make all of us feel extremely special. The minute we walk through the door we all call out “Kitty! Kitty!” or “Ozzie!” to gain his attention and to let him know we are home. We each talk about him as “my cat” and really enjoy our individual interactions with him. He is truly loved by all and we playfully argue over who he actually belongs to.
On paper, Ozzie officially belongs to Dane and I believe that he truly thinks he is Dane’s cat. But I know in my heart that he also believes he is Don’s cat, and Shelbi’s cat, and my cat too!