Cat Tales: Waldo and Susie–the Chicago years

Lucy One WhiteHello, Lucy One White here.

I’m a little bit tired, and so I told Mama Steph that she could tell some stories about other cats. Uncle Waldo and Aunt Susie took care of her in Chicago, and got her some training on how to be a cat mom. They moved to Colorado with her (that’s a car ride that I Lucy would hate, it would probably make me dead). Then they got Mama Bets, too and did more training. So by the time my brother Jules and I came to live at this house, they sort of knew what to do. I’ve still had to do a lot of training, but they’ve learned okay. Back to my nap, and maybe I’ll see you next week. Here’s Mama Steph:

Waldo and Susie arrived my first year out of college. I was working in a research lab at the University of Chicago and sharing an apartment with a college classmate, Paul, who was a med student at the U of C. One April Saturday night, we were at a party given by some of his classmates, and one of them announced that her cat had had kittens earlier that day. Paul and I thought adding kittens to our household was a good idea and several weeks later, we welcomed two small black and white kittens to our apartment.

Paul named the male Vladimir, in honor of the great pianists Horowitz and Ashkenazy. He played piano some himself and he was smitten with a fine young pianist named Barbara (40 years later, they are still together). I named the girl kitten Susannah. Both rather impressive names for small kittens. The cats romped about in lively kitten fashion, and were so much fun–I recall being absolutely delighted with their presence and coming home for lunch just so I could visit with them. It didn’t take long for the formal names to transform to Waldo and Susie, more fitting for their sprightly selves.

Shortly after the kittens arrived, so did the end of the school year. One of Paul’s classmates slept overnight in our living room, having had to move out of the dorms before she was actually ready to head home for the summer. The next morning, she reported having been awakened in the middle of the night by “the strangest sound”. Investigating, she discovered the kittens using her guitar, which had been leaning against the sofa, as a slide. A variation on slide guitar that would make any experimental musician proud.

Life continued on, and after a few years, Paul moved in with Barb, and the cats stayed with me. By this time, I also was in med school, and the cats were most attentive study companions, sleeping all over my enormous textbooks. They claimed credit for my getting through school, having kept my attention on my books. I moved to the north side of Chicago for residency, and the cats moved with me. This time, I lived in the upstairs of a duplex. Now the cats got to go outside a little bit when I was home, and they enjoyed exploring the yard. They quickly learned to be wary of the the downstairs cat, BlackJack, who while very friendly was about twice their size at 20 pounds.

Mostly Waldo and Susie were indoor cats, and I was really glad I had two, as they were good company for each other, given that I was working the hideously long hours of a medical resident. At one point, I was rotating in the ER, and sleeping during the day after an overnight shift. It was a nice late spring day, so I did leave the back door open for the cats to play. I groggily came to the surface, aware that a cat was bouncing very vigorously on the bed. Once my eyes focused, I realized that the activity was due to Waldo having a fine game of cat and mouse, with a live mouse. He was annoyed with me when his playmate was relocated outside and he had to stay in. Grumpy old spoilsport Mom.

Shortly after Waldo and Susie’s eighth birthday, I finished my residency. I was ready to return to Colorado, and found a practice to join near my hometown of Boulder. I rented a condo in Louisville, and a friend and I made the drive from Chicago. Waldo and Susie were pretty good passengers, their outraged howls fading in less than an hour, and they made it to Colorado in decent shape, considering the long haul trip.

Waldo and Susie adjusted to life in Colorado, learning about stairs by tearing up and down the steps in my condo–the evening “cat races”. They continued to be great companions for me and a fine welcoming committee when I returned home after a long day of work. About a year and a half after my return to Colorado, the three of us moved into the house I still live in. Now they had a whole new set of adventures coming: a yard, neighbor cats to play with, and more to come.

I didn’t have a camera when I lived in Chicago, so I haven’t any pictures of the youthful Waldo and Susie. I do have a few later ones, mostly of Waldo, and here are a few:


14 thoughts on “Cat Tales: Waldo and Susie–the Chicago years

  1. Oh my the mouse situation on the bed would have freaked me out! I always felt bad scolding my cat when he brought a dead creature to the door; he was just doing what he thought was right to support the family!

    Liked by 1 person

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