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Thanks for all the memories, Harley. You will be missed.

On September 2, 2006, a 3.5 pound fur ball became a part of the Pierce family.  That was the day that Harley, a run of the mill, runt of the litter barn cat came home with my daughter.

I have never been much of a cat person as I prefer trainable, working class dogs.  But from the second I first saw him walking on a muddy farm path on that Saturday morning I was somewhat taken by him.  In fact, dare I say it, I actually liked him.  A lot.

Harley was last born of ten kittens, coming into this world on June 24, 2006.  He was the only one of his brothers and sisters to survive more than 24 hours after birth.  He was part of a family of barn cats and his owner took him inside, hand nursed him for over six weeks and worked diligently to keep the runt kitty alive.

My daughter and I went to see a co-worker’s mother, as she was a Shetland Sheepdog breeder and the family was looking for another dog.  Shelties are my choice of pet and I was interested in finding a blue merle Shetland.  I came away empty-handed that day, but my daughter did not.

Within minutes of starting to walk to the kennels and look at the various Sheltie dogs, a cute, small kitten started rubbing all over my daughter’s shoes and legs.  He followed her everywhere we went, but when I would try to pet him, he would run away.  He only allowed my daughter to touch him.  Even his owner commented how unusual that was, as ever since she had gotten him healthy enough to return to the barn, he would not interact with people.  And so it was that Harley picked us as his family, not the other way around.

As a runt who barely survived birth, Harley was afflicted by several cat diseases his entire life.  This often made things more difficult for the family.  Harley would visit the vet more frequently than a normal cat.  He took different medicines on a regular basis and had to have special food that, of course, he did not like.  He would much rather just eat chicken, tuna and beef.  You didn’t dare leave spiced taco meat in the pan on the stove after making your tacos or Harley would be in it and have it half gone by the time you realized he had jumped on the counter.

But for a cat with chronic illness, he had a good personality.  And that is what I liked about him – his personality.  Sure, every animal has a unique personality and does things with their owners that endear them to each other, but for me, not being a cat person, it was Harley’s attitude that truly won me over.

For starters, he slept roughly 18 – 20 hours a day and stayed out of my way 95% of the time.  He pretty much left the humans in the house alone.  Pretty much.  And the 4 – 6 hours that he did not sleep?  Often it was from 1am – 5am, when he would be in the kitchen, using his paws to flip at the cupboard doors.  He would pull the cupboard doors open a ¼ to a ½ inch and then let go, allowing the door to bang shut.  The noise was annoying, often causing the dogs to bark and wake everyone up, but Harley never got tired of doing it.  It fascinated him.  So much so, that I bought child proof latches to go over the cupboard door knobs to keep them closed.  He could still flick at the doors, but they would not open far enough to make noise in the night and wake up the family.

Like most cats, he was curious, but he was also lazy.  Lazy in part because he was a cat and lazy because he was always a bit under the weather.  He was a horrible mouser.  A few years ago, a mouse invaded the house during the winter and I watched as it scurried past Harley by a few inches.  The cat opened one eye from sleeping, decided the mouse was moving too fast and that it would take too much energy to catch it, and then just went back to sleep.

He was not the kind of cat to jump and climb into high places or try to hide.  He usually slept right out in the open, on the arm of a couch, in the middle of the living room floor and sometimes in the middle of the bed if the sun was shining in and making it nice and warm.  He purred….a lot.  More than any other cat I have ever been around.  It was not a loud purr, but instead a consistent, comforting purr at just the right volume to help relax you after a long crappy day at work.

He would sometimes head butt people and he often would put his nose right up to your nose, mouth, ear or even your cell phone camera and sniff at you.  He enjoyed sleeping with family members and there were times that I had to drag him off the bed, pulling his claws out of the pillow case, because he decided to sleep half on my pillow and half on my head.

For over 12 years, Harley warmed the hearts of the Pierce family, just by being a quiet, cute, harmless cat that defied the odds that he would live even 12 hours after birth.  And sadly, today, he passed away – the victim of feline cancer.

I grew up around animals and have experienced the loss of pets many times before and each time it is difficult.  Our pets love us unconditionally.  They are always happy to see us, they care about us – sensing when we are ill or not happy and trying to make us feel better.  They depend on us for food, water and TLC, but in the end, it is really us that depends on them.

And even though their life span is so short compared to humans and there is pain and sadness that he is gone, there will be another cat.  Or another dog.  Or more fish or maybe even a reptile or two in the future.  Because no matter how much it hurts to lose a pet, for a pet owner, it’s not about preventing pain and sadness, its about loving that pet while he or she is still with us.

And so the backyard of the Piercehaven farmette in Ohio now has another permanent resident, sleeping for eternity on earth, but sleeping on a soft, comfy bed bathed in eternal sunshine somewhere over the rainbow bridge.

Rest in Peace, Harley Davidson Pierce.  June 24, 2006 – August 11, 2018.

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