I like most all cats, but there are two I’ve met who were the best cats in the world. One was my friend’s dad’s cat that I met in high school. The other was Sentinel.
Sentinel was probably four years old when he came to live with us. We adopted him from the Oregon Humane Society where he was known as Admiral Jones. He had recently had his front leg amputated. He was found in a trailer park in Damascus (the source of his middle name) and his leg had been dislocated for too long; it needed to be removed. He’d been in foster care long enough for the fur to grow back and was pretty steady.
From the beginning, he was a cat who wanted to hang out. Matt picked him out—I had my eye on a big fella called King Ralph—and Matt suggested Sentinel as his name, and it fit him perfectly.
I have a lot of picture of him supervising whatever project was going on. Sentinel was always social, both with people and cats. When people came to visit, it wasn’t long before Sentinel appeared and made the rounds. He was interested in hanging out with any neighbor cats, especially upstairs kitty, who would come by to check up on him.
Sentinel liked attention. Though he wasn’t a lap sitter (probably because of his missing leg) he would jump on the couch and sit next to you, and he was a great fan of lying on my chest when I read or napped. He really liked to groom humans–I suspect he was weaned too early.
Matt liked how Sentinel advocated for his needs and remained determined to fulfill those needs. If Sentinel wanted something from Matt when he was sitting on the couch, he would sit on the back of the couch close enough so he could flick his tail in Matt’s face, which was funny enough to overcome the annoyance factor.
Sentinel had a very quiet meow most of the time. More of a mouth opening sound than a meow. His loud meow would appear when he was in distress, usually because he wanted attention, or felt that it was time to eat. But even then it was a one-and-done meow and didn’t come very often.
Sentinel had a very good sense of how much time had passed. If it was time for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch) it was time for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch). He would stand by and headbutt my leg if I was sitting. Sometimes he even nipped my leg. If it was time for breakfast and I was still in bed, he would sometimes put his one front leg under my neck, claw the bed to gain purchase, and then burrow his nose under my neck and push my head in an attempt to turn me on my side and get me out of bed. It’s a good thing he was so charming because his persistence around food was really annoying. (Though silent.)
Matt picked out Sentinel because he thought that with only one front leg, he wouldn’t jump up on tables or counters. That was a miscalculation. He was a good jumper and, though he knew he wasn’t supposed to, he would jump on the counters to see what there was for him to scavenge. He also would sit on the arm of the couch and make a giant leap from the couch to the table under the windows. That one always made me nervous, especially when he was in his mid-teens. But he never missed.
One weekend afternoon, I was taking a nap in my bedroom to rest up from a baking failure. I had attempted chocolate chip cookies, but something had gone wrong, and there was nothing left to do but throw the cookies in the compost bin I kept on the counter. While attempting to rest, I heard a quiet ka-thunk from the kitchen. I ignored the noise a few times, then hauled myself out of bed to investigate. I found Sentinel on the kitchen counter using his nose to lift up the compost bin’s lid, biting a cookie and dragging it out, leaving the lid to ka-thump shut. He then ate the cookie part and spit out the chocolate chips. I laughed because it was so very wrong and also hilarious.
Names I called Sentinel: Big kitty, handsome fella, snaggle tooth, Elvis.
Antares came to live with us because Sentinel seemed to want a live-in friend. Sentinel accepted him into the household and showed him how to be a good indoor cat. I have a lot of pictures of the two of them sleeping, Sentinel’s red-black fur contrasting with Antares’s black-black fur.
As the resident at the Orange Door with the third-longest tenure, he really made his mark. It will be hard to not have Sentinel with us after fifteen years.
For five pages of blog posts tagged Sentinel, click here.
For 72 more posts tagged Sentinel, click here.
One of the posts in that last link reminded me to mention how much he loved feet. He was all about feet smells. So weird.