Toto. aka Uncle Toto, the Tangerine Dream, Snow Pants, Butterfly Jumper, Totus
Toto started his career in our neighborhood living next door, with his human mom, a human brother and sister, two feline siblings, Tiger and Trigger, and eventually a black Lab named Codie.
A long-haired deep orange fellow, Toto was most engaging, and would visit with neighbors, human and feline alike. He’d join the crew sunning on our back deck, and never shied away from partaking in a bit of catnip with his buddies. Oh wow, man. Do you have any chips?
One summer, there was scaffolding all up the back of our house, as an addition/remodel was underway. BA and I were living in the front bedroom and the living room, complete with refrigerator; cooking with a hot plate, microwave oven and a gas grill. Dishes were done in the bathroom sink. A glamorous time all round, and we managed. One evening during this time, we were having crab legs for dinner–steamed, its actually an easy prep.
We were sitting at the table enjoying our meal when Toto came down the stairs, quite sure that the crab was intended for his enjoyment. He’d climbed the scaffolding and worked his way through the taped off construction zone. We admired his skill, gave him a pet and put him outside on the deck. Minutes later he came back down the stairs, reminding us that he was both hungry and extremely fond of crab. Surely it had been an oversight on our part. A remarkably persistent fellow. Back outside he went, and I don’t recall whether we gave him any crab for his troubles; I suspect we did. He certainly got some legendary status for climbing the scaffolding twice in an evening.
A few years later, our old cat Waldo died on a stormy spring evening, the day before his 19th birthday. That same evening, Codie, Toto’s canine sister, was giving birth to a litter of 11 puppies. Toto was easy going and quite a tolerant fellow, but 11 puppies were too many for him. He started spending more and more time at our house, including sleeping over. It was pretty clear that he’d decided where he wanted to be living and it was no longer in the house with the puppies. After a few months, BA, I, and our neighbor formally honored Toto’s move, and he was officially “our cat”.
Toto did like to be out and about and he roamed the neighborhood. Taking a walk, he’d accompany us the first quarter mile up the bike path, and pick us up again somewhere on the return trip. He also learned the sound of my car. BA was usually home from work before I was, and she knew I was almost home when Toto would come trotting down the stairs, having heard my car driving behind the house as I came home. It was really quite endearing to be greeted by him on my arrival home.
Having roamed the neighborhood for years before he moved in with us, we didn’t keep Toto indoors as much as we had our other cats. He wanted to be out and about. As noted earlier, he did like to eat, so he would usually show up for meals if he’d been out for the day. Occasionally, he’d spend a night out and wander in the next morning, hungry for his breakfast. One warm spring night, about a year after he came to live with us, Toto went out and didn’t return the next morning, nor any morning after that.
Broken–hearted, we searched the neighborhood and nearby open space. We never did find Toto. Our suspicion is that a coyote got him, but we’ll never know. A week or two after his disappearance, I had a dream in which was Toto traveling in a white “airline bag”, landing and walking out of it with his usual swagger. Upon waking, I was excited, thinking/hoping that perhaps Toto was coming back. Later, I came to a different interpretation, that Toto had crossed the rainbow bridge to wherever pets go next.
We only had Toto with us for a year, although we knew him for 6 or 7. He was quite the fellow. To me, it feels as though one of his jobs was to be our transition cat, bridging between two generations, Waldo and Susie (who haven’t yet been introduced) and Jules and Lucy, who came to us at the end of that summer. Toto, you were such a joyful fellow, and I do thank you for gracing us with your presence. You still bring a smile to our faces and joy to our hearts when we recall your exploits.