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The Cat Who Started It All

December 30, 2011

Cole -- King of the Cats

He was the first, but he made sure that he’d never be the last.

Cole came into my life when he was — at best guess — 7 or 8 years old. He was to be a companion for my dog in a 700-square-foot apartment just outside of Marina del Rey that was really too small for the three of us. Little did I know that his presence in my life would change the way I thought about cats forever.

By some definitions, Cole was a tuxedo cat, but his body was covered primarily in a creamy white coat. Black patches spotted his back and the top of his head, giving him the look of a Holstein cow. For years, I called him my cow cat.

Cole and Nan, the dog I had when the Cat King first joined my family

When he first arrived from the rescue organization, he roamed my apartment with his head down, his tail up. My 7-year-old dog was on his heels for the entire inspection. I’d say that Cole was investigating, but he was never much of an investigator. Instead, he was the type of cat that approached every situation as if he owned it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Cole’s tour of the little apartment was his way of laying claim to everything in the house — including the dog and her bed.

A king among cats, Cole was one of a kind. He surveyed each new situation with the same vague interest of a wise man who has seen many wars and fought countless battles. Nothing really ever scared or surprised him. His quiet confidence calmed those around him, whether beast or human, and drew others to him. He had a multitude of admirers, including many who told me they never liked cats until they met Cole.

Quintessential Cole

Still, he had his vices. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. And what he wanted most was good food and good loving. A hedonistic kitty through and through, Cole rarely turned up his coal-black nose at food. Always a big boy, at one point, he ate his way right up to 19 pounds, though he still strutted around as if he was a light and lithe 13 pounder. Eventually, he settled in at 16 pounds, but he never lost his love for food.

He also insisted on sleeping on the bed.

Under the covers.

With his head on the pillow.

Cole making himself at home the first time he met my Grandmother

And his back pressed to the chest of the closest warm body.

At first, I wouldn’t let him sleep in my bed. But after a while, I found that I couldn’t resist the quiet, raspy meows and the deep, rumbly purrs that would emanate from him when he was warm and content.

And then there were the head butts. In kitty language, head butts are a sign of affection, and Cole was not shy about letting people know just how much he loved them. He even doled out head butts to the vet and all of the staff in the vet’s office. And, of course, he loved a good cuddle and wouldn’t accept no for an answer when he wanted to snuggle close to a person. When he met my grandmother for the first time, he shoved himself into the chair right next to her and refused to leave her side, even when she repeatedly tried to push him away.

Little by little, Cole’s actions and attitudes shifted my world. When he joined my little family, I considered myself a resolute dog person. Cole taught me that cats could be just as loving and interesting as dogs. Contrary to media portrayals, they are not always aloof or frightened or scratch-happy beasts. He turned me from that resolute dog person to a person who couldn’t imagine life without at least one cat.

While I was lucky enough to have Cole in my life for more than nine and a half years, he left my world all too quickly. My final night with him was long and we weren’t sure he’d make it until morning, but it was important for the other animals to see and cuddle with him one last time. He was, after all, the reason that I took in each one of them.

The next day, when I finally let him go, even the vet cried.



  1. I believe people and animals enter our lives for important reasons — we just have to be willing to listen to the lessons they have to teach us. Cole taught me a great many things and I plan on sharing those lessons little by little over the coming weeks and months.
  2. Please forgive the quality of photos. Most of the pictures I have of Cole were taken with a very old point-and-shoot digital camera that I bought not too long after they hit the commercial market. It’s amazing just how much digital photography has improved since then.

From → Animals, Cats, Cole

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