These past snow storms brought back a favorite and cherished memory:  I’ve written about Rambo, son Joe’s cat who was also the reason Art changed his mind about being just a “dog person.”

Joe came home one evening with several of his friends in tow--probably for reinforcement.  I noticed a lump under his sweat shirt.  
“What’s wrong with your shoulder, what is that lump?”

After telling me it was “nothing,” he reached under the sweat shirt and gently offered an orange/white ball of fur, a kitten that was dwarfed in his hand.  He proceeded to tell me that they had found this baby in a dumpster in town.  Being a softie for kitties, I held this little creature to my neck and he started purring and nibbling my ear.  I thought anyone who could put a kitten in a dumpster was terribly cruel! 

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We--Joe, his friends and I, Kelly, our dog, Missy and Jack, our resident cats—intently watched the goings on in the kitchen as we put the kitten on the floor.   The other animals cautiously approached this interloper sniffing and nudging him.  Bad, bad move!  This little guy hissed, spat and batted at them forcing them to scramble back.  What a warrior!  At that moment, feline Rambo was named and became ruler of the household.  

One winter, during a fierce snow storm, Rambo had gone out.  Art kept looking for him at the front door waiting to let him inside.  Then he spotted him perched high up on the front wheel of Joe’s monster truck, “The Orange Crush,” parked in the side yard.  Smart cat was out of the elements and dry; however, if he jumped off the wheel, he would sink deep in the snow.  Suddenly, I couldn’t believe my eyes:  There was Art—he was now confined to using a cane and walker—with his electric shovel, digging a path to the truck from the house.

“Are you crazy?  You can’t use your cane or walker!  You’re going to fall and do more damage to your knees!  Come back inside!”  I was livid!
Rambo waited patiently until Art was finished and then daintily jumped off the wheel and pranced down his private path into the house.  He went directly to his food dish and looked up at me as if to say:

“Okay, I’m here, now where’s my food?”  Not even a “Thank you, human.”  What an obnoxious little cat, but oh did we love him!

He was arrogant, independent, and feisty and doled out affection on his terms.  Loyalty was his strong suit.  When Art was confined to a hospital bed at home, Rambo spent the days with him resting on the sofa.  Sometimes he would move over to the foot of the bed, always turning his head if Art moved.  The only times he’d leave Art would be to eat or use the litter box.  Otherwise, he was Art’s constant companion.  Art was so fascinated with this kitty, that he took a whole roll of pictures of him in various positions.  An unbreakable friendship was forged between our Marine and this imperious orange tabby cat.

During one of his outdoor maneuvers, Rambo contracted feline HIV.  He became very ill and eventually crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.  Shortly after, the real truth was revealed of how Rambo came into our family:  Joe didn’t find him in a dumpster.  His friend’s cat had had a litter and his Mom told him he had to find homes for the kittens, they couldn’t keep them.  Joe knew I’d go for the “dumpster story”.   

We loved and put up with Rambo’s arrogance and independence for 15 years.  He was unique and will never be forgotten.  Hmm, kind of reminds us of Calli, the intimidator, from last week’s column doesn’t it?