Pal Jimmy: Six Toes, Endless Love

I figure Jimmy could sound like Moe Szyslak from the Simpsons — or maybe Jimmy Breslin the NYC newspaper scribe — if he could talk. He does looks a bit like Breslin. Except my Jimmy don’t have no Mailer upstaging him. He’s just got me to tell youse about him. But he don’t sound like no Jamaica Bay bum either; he’s got a plaintive little voice.

He’s also got ears like Homer’s pal Moe and his feet’re deformed, but that don’t stop him from gettin’ ‘round. He don’t want you to know he’s got six toes on each foot – givin’ him the advantage over most school kids because he can count to 24 the old fashioned way without resorting to a calculator.

His main set of threads is a tux he keeps clean with a lot of effort that includes the occasional hairball yours truly has to clean up.

Jimmy came into our lives a little more than a year ago. We got him at the SPCA along with his housemate – the Princess – who is a story for another day.

A couple of weeks ago, Jimmy got sick. He started hiding under the bed in our spare room causing me to spend hours looking for him when I should have been at my desk scribbling.

Up until this point I hadn’t realized what this cat meant to me. He is my companion while I sit at home, lost in the struggle of writing for a meager living. When the world beats me up pretty badly, which it does at times, Jimmy plunks his 14 pounds down on my chest looks me in the eye and lets me know he’s there for me as long as I keep opening the cans of food.

My wife and I are not typical West Coasters. We don’t want a dog. Not that we have anything against dogs. We’re cat people and like cats because they don’t go in for slavish slavering as do dogs. Leave that to Pavlov &Co. And, I don’t do walkies.

Cats are more in keeping with the way we live.

We’d been down the cute kitten road.  Heart breakers all. You love them, raise them, give them the best money can buy and expect great things then they run away.

On the last trip to the SPCA we decided on a pair of older cats. We wanted two cats to keep each other company when we were away working and the house was empty. We also figured that older cats would be good because they would be grateful – not in the skinny legs way either – but appreciative of being bailed out of kitty jail and willing to fit into a home.

When we walked into the SPCA the place was crowded with senior cats but devoid of kittens. There’s often a waiting list for kittens.

The oldest feline was a female that must have weighed 25 lbs. She could barely stand on her own and the perky volunteer allowed that she was not long for this world and therefore not up for adoption. They were just giving her a comfortable home in her final days.

It was all I could do to keep from weeping. God bless all those perky volunteers.

Jimmy the Gent made himself known right off the bat. From a distance, he looked like an elegant Sean Connery in his Bond days. Then up close, the folded over ears – a result of severe frostbite as a kitten – and the over-sized paws became evident. Perky Volunteer explained that Jimmy had six toes on each paw and before you can say Marge Simpson, he transformedinto Moe Szyslak.

Funny how you walk into a crowded room and know whom you’re going to hit it off with right away. The pen Jimmy was in was one of three crowded with middle-aged and geriatric cats. He kept his distance at first but warmed to a few quick, against the grain, back rubs.

In the meantime, the Princess was hovering around hustling my wife. She’d purr and preen, nuzzling her hand, indicating that if we took her home, we’d have won the kitty lottery.

Okay. We do buy lottery tickets and listen to ABBA so we took a chance on her – actually both of them.

The Gent settled in pretty quickly, making friends with whoever had a kind word, a gentle pat and an open can of food. But the Princess reverted to her true standoffish self, only allowing Laurie (my wife) to hold and pet her. Holding takes the form of lap climbing on the couch and in bed.

From day one, Jimmy sus’d out the bed as an important part of our lives and demanded space on the pillow. After more than a hundred nights of pushing and shoving, we’ve come to an accommodation. He lies between us with his head on the pillows and his body forming a Berlin Wall to my more prurient ambitions.

He does like it on cold winter nights when I cover most of him with my blanky, but he likes to sleep with his head and front paws uncovered.

After donating the money I’d been saving for my own dental work to Jimmy’s vet, I am pleased to report that he’s on the mend. It gave me a big scare and now I know I value his friendship more than that of most humans.

Our occasional contretemps have been worth it. Jimmy keeps me company, making me glad we went for older cats. Like Breslin, he’s a good running mate in the race of life with all the charm of Sean Connery and the not-so-dignified “seen life” good looks of Moe Szyslak. Not too pushy, Jimmy has his own agenda but is there when you need him. I wish you could say that about kittens.

Photo Credits

“Jimmy Breslin” Wikipedia

“Moe” Wikipedia

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