(Written for Mr. Hoss' 8th grade class?)

I remember back when we first moved here, the loneliness that crept inside me. My best friend, Nathaniel, was back home. I needed a friend. We already had a cat, but Ccinder was more my mom's pet than mine. Finally we decided to get a second cat. Actually, he wasn't the second -- he was the eleventh! We had already had nine other cats besides our current one, each with a different identity.

Our first cat was Lara. My mom gave her to my dad as an engagement present, but she died of a nerve disease. After that there was Poohkin. When we were in Minnesota at my grandparents' house, she ran away. Next we got Meeskite (a Yiddish name); he jumped out of the car at a Pennsylvania Turnpike rest area (our cats never liked to travel). Then there was Pumpkin. He was a huge, tiger-striped cat. He fathered dozens of litters before we got him "fixed"; when it was done, our cat-owning neighbors wanted to have a party! Before Pumpkin was fixed, we picked Pi from one of his litters. Whenever we wanted both of them to come inside, we would yell, "Pumpkin -- pie" (our neighbors thought we were "nuts"). Later Pumpkin died of Feline Leukemia, and we got yet another cat.

Cats are dumb -- I must admit that it's a well-known fact. Our sixth cat, Gamma, proved that. Once our neighbor was working on his car. He went inside ofr a drink of water, leaving the hood open. Gamma jumped in; then the neighbor came back and closed the hood. He stepped into the car, showing the key into the ignition, and turned the motor on. After hearing a bit of a chopping sound, he turned off the engine and rushed to the front of the car, flipping open the green hood. Lifting the cat our[sp] gently, he rushed to our house, and we drove Gamma to the vet. Luckily he survived. Later, however, our neighbor went in to use the lavatory while working on the car. Gamma, the same stupid cat, decided to explore the motor again. This time he did not make it.

Next we got Benjamin to keep Pi company. When we were traveling, instaed of taking Pi and Benjamin with us, we left them in a kennel. Benji caught Pneumonitis there and suffered a painful, expensive death. Then there was Morley Maxwell Ljung (named for three great physicists); we called him "Max" for short. He died of Feline Leukemia -- that's when we learned Pi was a carrier of the disease, and we had to have her killed.

After that we didn't have any cats until Connecticut, when we got Charlie, our ninth cat. We finally gave her away because, even with a bell around her neck, she once brought in a decayed bird filled with worms and a headless squirrel! At the same time we got Cinder. He was the rest of the family's favorite. He is a sixteen pound black cat and has lived the longest of all our cats (people were beginning to think we're cat killers). After we got Cinder, we decided no more cats until later. That was over ten years ago.

About six years ago, however, we broke down and bought our newest cat, the only one I can really remember besides Cinder, the holder of the longest-lived award. His name is Butterscotch, commonly known as "Butter." He earned his name when my mom first saw him and exclaimed, "What a beautiful color; he looks like a butterscotch sundae!" I remember that day well -- my great love for Butterscotch and all animals alike might not have emerged if we hadn't picked the tannish-white colored cat. We were in a basement full of cats to be sold. We petted every cat a dozen times, trying to pick the right one. Mom liked the gray one, but she had Cinder; dad didn't care; and Mike wasn't sure. It was mainly up to me to pick the cat. I think what helped me decided[sp] was the way Butterscotch was always jumping around. After playing with a ball of yarn, he cuddled up is[sp] a straw hat. I drew my hand under the fluffy lump and scooped him up. The cute expression he showed when he looked up at the disturbance and the way he barely covered the palm of my hand convinced me I wanted him from then on. After being home with us for a while, he grew like crazy. Every night he would sleep curled around my head lying on the sunken pillow. I loved him with all my heart.

Just about a year ago I was sitting in the allergist's office finding out what I was allergic to. There was a possibility that I might be just barely sensitive to cats. Finally I was tested for cats. They test you by injecting some pollen or hair in liquid form into your arm. If the area grows thwne they check it ten minutes later, you are allergic. About five minutes had gone by when I checked the bump. It had slightly enlarged. I'm not sure what feeling I felt, or if I felt any at all. After that, I didn't look at it any more. When the ten minutes were up, the nurse told use the news. At that moment I started to laugh inside (I don't know why, but I think people laugh to let tension out). All of a sudden, it struck me, reality slapped me in the face. I got up and walked out of the room into the waiting area. I fell back in to the chair secluded in the corner and wept.

I was allergic to a cat . . . my best friend
by David Ljung