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An ode to Oliver, the cat with olive-colored eyes

We said goodbye just after Thanksgiving, Oliver and I.

The moment our eyes met 11-1/2 years ago at Committed Alliance to Strays (C.A.T.S.), I knew it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

When I entered the socialized cat room, we found one another. In a space festooned with friendly cats of every description, I noticed his incredible olive-green eyes and ample size. I wanted a big cat. He was a gray striped tabby with a sincere face. Unlike wily felines, this turned out not to be a façade, except when attempting to trim his claws. He padded over and jumped on my lap knowing I was his.

The folks at C.A.T.S. weren’t surprised when I laid claim to him. “Oh, we saw that right off,” the woman agreed. They estimated Ollie’s age at 5 — no longer a rambunctious and potentially destructive kitten, but a mature feline with plenty of good years left for pets and serious discussions.

Long-time readers of Southern Oregon Journal may recall the momentous day I attempted escaping wildfire smoke by heading for the Cimarron Inn in Klamath Falls with him and Cassidy. Cassidy was the big, gray guy I added to our household a month later. They did not agree that this was the best course of action. Oliver berated me from his carrier for at least half the drive, biting at the metal bars. I was relieved he could not get to the steering wheel. You’ll find the full tale in my collection, “Trips and Tangents: 101 Favorite Southern Oregon Journal Columns.”

I lost Cassidy, a lover not a fighter, to FIV just four years after he came to live with us. A natural extrovert, Cassidy glommed most of my attention.

Later I realized that Oliver had been biding his time to demonstrate two could play that game. When a friend visited, he would eagerly greet them, plop down and roll over at their feet, groveling shamelessly and exposing his broad tum for scratches. This he never did when I came home. I began to wonder if he wanted to trade me in. I was embarrassed by his obvious flirtations. He actually had the gall to lick the toes of one friend. Lick her toes! She became our go-to kitty sitter.

I realized after Cass left us that Ollie had often been overlooked because of Cass’ overt affections and Ollie’s reluctance to intrude. I began making up for lost cuddles, and it wasn’t long before he began finding my side on cold nights, meeting me at the door with his signature chirp, and jumping at the doorknob to let me in. This was the same chirp he used as a subtle wake-up call — no yowling or jumping on my face, just a snooze-button reminder that time for sleep had passed.

Since optimism trumps wisdom on occasion, I tried another trip with Oliver. He didn’t care for the coast any more than Klamath Falls, though he had a great view.

As years sailed past, we became closer and more dependent on one another. I helped him through health issues, and he helped me through life — my housemate and warm companion who remained as long as he could through the pandemic malaise. His absence is keenly felt. I miss his golden mustache.

My Oliver grew tired. I’d find him waiting for me in his place atop the sofa where he presided over the world of birds and dog-walkers. He growled when deer came to call, and met visiting cats with, “keep moving.” I would come over and give him head butts, which he serenely reciprocated.

For several weeks after our parting, I expected to see him in the regular places where he was not. I thought he might greet me at the door. I heard his chirp a couple of times. I’m ever thankful for the years we shared, but it hurts.

I have reason to believe we’ll head-butt again. Until then, I love and miss you, Oliver. You were a fine and loyal companion.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.