Phyllis Donovan: HiHo Led Happy Life With Family

Phyllis Donovan: HiHo Led Happy Life With Family

He came to us as a stray when our female cat Lexie was still going outside on occasion. We started feeding him on the back deck and after eating he would hop up onto the deck table, peer through the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the view and meow.

My husband said he was serenading her, meowing “Hi, Ho, Lexie, come out and play.”

And she would go out where the two of them would sit companionably on the sunny deck dozing together. When winter blew in, he still came around and I heard from neighbors that he was making the rounds and several were also feeding him.

I fixed him a cozy “cat cave” under the tarp we put over the deck table in winter and he did crawl in and nap there. But that winter was very cold and one night when the temperature was  predicted to go down below zero, I let him into the house when he came to see Lexie.

By then she was friendly enough with him that she didn’t even object to his sharing her indoor territory. When my husband saw him making himself comfortable under the dining room table, he said “Where did YOU come from?” But he didn’t want the poor thing left outdoors freezing either. So that’s how we adopted him.

We called him “HiHo” because that was his calling card and he responded to it readily. Once he’d had all his shots and was neutered by our vet, he became officially ours. He was a good companion, always nearby and ready to be petted. He wasn’t a lap cat but often padded along behind me and kept close watch while I was working around the house.

He always deferred to Lexie, waiting patiently while she ate first, even though his own bowl was full of food beside hers. She was the Queen of the House until one day she failed to come in after sitting outside in the yard. We looked everywhere for her, put up posters with her photo all around the neighborhood, at the vet’s and even in this newspaper. But our beautiful long-haired, half tabby, half Maine coon cat never returned. We suspected a coyote had taken her but probably HiHo was the only one who really knew her fate. Soon after, he willingly became an indoor cat.

For a while he was our only cat until a Lexie lookalike showed up on our deck seeking food. My husband soon adopted her even though she had a prickly disposition and tended to pick on poor HiHo. We called her Natasha, the Mad Russian, because she was so aggressive.

HiHo still remained my favorite and was always good company until I fell and broke both legs over a year ago. My daughter Peg, who had cats of her own, took both of mine while I was in rehab.

Soon after I came home, she brought back the feisty Natasha who had been intimidating her own big tuxedo cat. But HiHo had endeared himself to her family with his good natured, pleasant presence. Her husband Bob was especially taken with him, calling him his “Little Buddy.”

Every time Bob, who has chronic back trouble, would lie on the floor to relieve his aching back, HiHo would come and sit on his stomach, moving right up under his chin and purring mightily. There’s nothing like a purring cat to comfort a person who isn’t feeling their best. And so HiHo became an integral part of their family…

Until just last week when one evening, he jumped off the sofa and his hind quarters buckled. He couldn’t use his back legs. They rushed him to their vet who diagnosed him as having thrown a blood clot. The vet kept him for two days to see if the clot would clear up with medication but it never did. Poor HiHo had a heart condition which wasn’t going to get any better.

Crippled as he was, he still continued to purr, which made my daughter’s family feel even worse about having to make the decision to put him to sleep. But that’s eventually what happened. Bob buried him with two other family pets who had predeceased him and made him his own small granite headstone, just like the others in their backyard pet cemetery.

We never knew how old he was but he’d given both of our families at least a dozen years of love and comfort and for that we will never forget the large, short-haired tiger cat named HiHo that we all came to love.

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