Sometime around now is Lars' 13th birthday. In honor of that, I'm going to tell The Story of Lars.
When I was in high school we had a fabulous orange male cat named Bailey. We were best buds. Sadly, Bailey started spraying and my mom took him and his friend-cat, Jasmine, "away". I don't know what that means, and I never want to. It was a very sad day. Mr. S and I had just started dating and he had to watch me sob at the kitchen table as my mom packed Bailey and Jasmine into the car. Saddest. Day. Ever. (To my 17 year old self, anyway.)
On that day, I swore that when I left home and got a place of my own, I was getting an orange cat. I lived in the dorms my freshman and sophomore year of college so a cat was out of the question. I got my first apartment during the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college.
I went to school in South Carolina and Mr. S went to school in West Virginia. During that summer, the summer of 2000, he joined me for the summer. Within a few days of him moving in, we took a trip to the Horry County, SC Humane Society. We saw a litter of super tiny kittens, a few of them orange. They were too young to adopt at that time but I knew those were the ones and I planned on returning in a couple weeks when they were older.
A few weeks later, we were back at the shelter. I picked out a 6 week old orange male. It was hard to say at that time if he would be long or short hair. I was really hoping for a short hair. The poor kitty was black with fleas but most flea medications were for older cats. I could not allow those fleas in my apartment so I took my chances and gave little kitty several flea baths. Interesting fact-- since those early days, I've never treated Lars for fleas even though he often goes outside into our backyard now. He's never had a single flea. I swear those early flea baths made him flea proof!
Mr. S and I debated for a long time over what his name would be. We settled on Lars, after Lars Ulrich.
After Mr. S returned to WV, I got a new roommate, Kelly. Kelly and Lars had a love-hate relationship. No, that's a lie. They had a hate relationship. Kelly was dog person. Lars was a mean cat. He would unroll entire rolls of toilet paper throughout the apartment while we were sleeping. He would get on the counters and knock glasses off onto the tile floor just to hear them shatter...almost always in the middle of the night to give us heart attacks. He would run out the door any chance he got. I'm surprised Kelly didn't just let him go if I wasn't home. He would steal food off our plates if we ate at the coffee table and he'd knock over glasses just to watch the liquid spill.
He made it through a year and a half with Kelly and after I graduated college, we moved back to WV into a very small one bedroom apartment with Mr. S. We lived there for about 6 months and strangely, I can't even remember Lars living there.
His next move was to Ohio. We lived in a very luxurious apartment when we first moved to Ohio. He had a huge walk-in closet as his room (compared to cramped closets in previous apartments.) Interestingly, I can't remember him living in that apartment either except for the big closet.
The year and a half that I lived in those last two apartments was a very awkward time in my life. It was the "why do I have a bachelors degree and no job? why am I living somewhere landlocked when my degree is in marine science?" period of my life.
When we moved into our current house in 2003, Lars, of course, came with us. In the three bedroom house, he got a whole room to himself. How glorious! He was always known as the mean cat. Several of our friends still think that he's mean even though he's mellowed out immensely over the years.
When we brought Laika home in 2009, Lars was beside himself. It wasn't long before he realized that he had the advantage, though. Laika is kinda dumb. It's definitely a Garfield & Odie situation around here. A few hisses and swats was all it took for Lars to get his confidence back.
When E arrived, he was nervous but interested. Although he's known as the "mean cat", he's been nothing but tolerant of E. He's nervous enough that we never had to worry about the cat "stealing the breath" from the baby. And if it's a good day, he'll even let E hug him now that he's older.
I get sad with every passing day knowing that one day he'll be gone. He can't jump onto the counters (a good thing) or the window sills (a bad thing, for him) anymore. He sometimes misses when he tries to jump onto our bed. But at the same time, give him a catnip toy and he'll play just like he did 13 years ago.
He's been a wonderful companion for 13 years.