Ten Years with Neko

On this day in 2012, my wife and I brought home the ginger that the County of San Diego Animal Services called Dermott. We renamed him Neko, which is Japanese for cat. The shelter took him in on February 15. We would have first seen him on either the 18th or 25th; I don’t recall which but am confident a Saturday. Because he was so handsome, we were surprised to see him on subsequent visits.

Our Maine Coon mix, Kuma, disappeared on January 15. After city workers recovered his collar in a nearby canyon, we had to assume that a coyote took him. But being ever hopeful not, I checked the shelter website most evenings and we walked through the facility every few days looking. All the while, Dermott remained unclaimed, and we soon learned why.

He was a bit skittish and nervous, which shouldn’t surprise anyone given his sudden confinement. Dermott wasn’t fixed, which suggested he had lived on the streets some of the time. But we weren’t given details about possible origins. The quality that put off most people was something that actually appealed to us: He was vocal, very chatty.

Annie perhaps remembers better than I why we chose him when we did. He was her pick and a good one. Sigh. The choice signified acceptance that Kuma was gone. We signed the adoption papers and paid the $58 fee on March 27, 2012. That set in motion his, ah, operation, to prevent future breeding. We retrieved him the following day.

The shelter sent away the cat in a cardboard animal carrying box, which I opened in the bathroom—believing confined space with door shut would be best. Panicked, Neko leaped out and quite literally scaled the shower’s glass doors in what can best be described as a ninja maneuver—up the smooth surface. I retrieved him from the metal frame before he could jump to the open window, which was screened but outward pushable given his demeanor and momentum.

Later, I suggested to Annie that we set up a safe space for him. We draped a blanket over the red IKEA Lack table that sat by the main room’s front window. Sure enough, he hid beneath what would be his retreat during the next few days. The topside of the table would eventually become a favorite place, where Neko looked down into the apartment complex courtyard or would nap.

The shelter estimated Neko’s age as two. But, based on plaque accumulation on his molars, our veterinarian figured four. Assuming that either is right, our ginger giant is either 12 or 14. While energetic and spry, Neko shows signs of elder aging. He is chattier than ever, a bit more demanding, and fur-matted some spots. But his appetite is relentless. For some reason, he’s a fiend for turkey breast, which Annie is all too happy to feed him. The meat is healthy and way more affordable than even cheap cat food; price is unbeatable around Thanksgiving and the few months beyond.

Let’s discuss the photos. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image about an hour ago. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 250, 1/15 sec, 28mm; 9:03 p.m. PDT. Annie used Motorola Droid Turbo to take the tree shot on March 11, 2015. Vitals: f/2, ISO 100, 1/120 sec, 4.8mm; 10:05 a.m. PDT. The last puts Neko on his beloved red table, which we no longer own (he has cat-friendlier furniture now). I made the portrait with Fujifilm FinePix X100 on June 19, 2013. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 320, 1/60 sec, 35mm; 7:11 a.m. PDT.