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Minus was my second cat (after a hiatus of more than 25 years) and he came to me in an odd way. He was actually the neigbor's cat, but I didn't know that for quite a while. The neigbor was renting (as I was) and wasn't permitted to have a cat; so not only did the neighbor not ackowledge Minus, but actually denied that he was her cat.

Since the neigbor was in the other end of a duplex, Minus came to my door; apparently looking for a shortcut home. But there's no door from one end of a duplex to another and so, no luck that way. But on one occasion he sneaked in and found himself locked in while I was away for the day.

Talk about scared.

But it wasn't his fault he was trapped in a house with no litter pan (a recurrent theme as he was later locked in a house up the street). Then he discovered that I would supply decent food, and a partnership was born.

Minus, who was mostly gray with white underside and feet, is the only cat I have had to date that I could regard as a true partner-of-choice. He knew he had the best deal and, while he had his foibles, the relationship was not one of master (cat) to slave (human). He fully expected to hold up his end of the relationship in exchange for what he quickly came to regard as the "perfect life".

I think he was abused before he came to me: It was clear that he appreciated his life with me, in a way that few cats do.

Welcome home: Minus would stand at parade attention, tail straight up, when I would come home in the evening. Every evening. It was true that he was an outside cat and couldn't go in until I came home, but he was simply glad to see me and showed it in every line. Not just, "Good, you're home. Feed me so I can get on to more important things." His attitude was, "I am glad to see you home, friend. I'd be glad even if you didn't feed me."

Cold feet: One of the things he did enjoy doing was after he came in from the cold outdoors. He would grab a quick bite to eat and then come into the bedroom where I was lying on the bed topless. He would jump up, flop beside me and plant all four ice-cold feet flat against my exposed ribs. To warm them, of course; though it was clear he also enjoyed the shock reaction.

One time, I was being silly and "moon-walking" into the bedroom, trying to emulate those long soaring leaps. Minus was sleeping on the bed. His eyes opened, then got huge and he jumped from a prone position backwards off the bed. I reiterate: From a prone start. (Didn't know a cat could do that prior to that time.) Poor kitty: I'm not really trying to kill you. Just being silly.

Minus ruled the neighborhood. While he was with me, no other males hung out in the area. He chased them all away. Being declawed in front didn't bother him a bit; he was a master at intimidation of other cats.

Minus met his sad end when I was gone. Neigbors up the street had a small trailer backed in for some remodelling they were doing. Minus was wary of cars starting and moving, of course, but no one had ever told him that a trailer could move without an engine starting. To my intense regret, he died alone: I was at work.

Minus is the one of the few cats I was owned by that I didn't name. He was named by the neighbor that originally owned him. Someone suggested that it was a comment on his being neutered, and I think that is probably correct. But it didn't bother him that I called him that.