My life with Peaches (sometimes referred to as that damn cat) started a little over fifteen years ago when she moved into the hay shed one cool fall day.
We would get cats living there from time to time, and I bought cat food and would feed them when I fed our horses. Here in the wooded hills where I live it is pretty common to find cats that heartless humans from nearby towns have pushed out of their cars along the road with the misguided belief that domestic cats will survive the wilderness.
I don’t know how but that little mess of calico fur made it to our shed, and survived the raccoons, hawks, owls, coyotes, bobcats, other cats, and neighborhood dogs that all prey on helpless cats that only knew the comfort of some home until they were coldly discarded.
Peaches got her name when I told my wife I was feeding four cats. She came out and asked me if I had named them; I pointed to the black long hair and said “Furry”. The grey and black-striped cat I named “Furry”. The orange I called “Furry”. And pointing at the calico long hair, I finished with “Furry”.
That worked fine for me, and the cats only cared about the occasional rub on their head and food anyway. My wife was not having that, named them on the spot and told me to call them by their names. I promised to do that, but mostly I just whistled at them. I expect they liked being named by that unknown person that cuddled and talked softly to them, but seeing me meant food.
An owl got the furry black that got to be called Miss Furry. The neighbour’s had a town friend who came out with his dog who promptly killed the orange cat named Earless, so named because her ears had been frostbitten down to short little stubs. After the neighbours moved away, the striped cat she named Trixie, moved into the new people’s garage and was eventually taken in. Finally she called the calico cat Peaches.
One very cold snow covered morning I discovered that longhaired, calico cat almost lifeless after what might have been a struggle with a coyote and brought it into the house to mend. Peaches became our house cat and with a single-mindedness that I later was forced to tolerate, became to be my wife’s lap cat.
Peaches also filled an important role in our household as my ever-present photography subject. Is there a better poser than a cat? I had dogs for years. Sure, dogs will do anything to please and I constantly photographed them, but dogs get bored easily and unless they were tired would move. If you photograph your dog be prepared to continually wipe the drool off your camera. But a cat, the consummate poser, will hold one position without moving for a long time.
Peaches didn’t mind waiting for multiple light setups, close-ups, or even an occasional repositioning. She would just sit there, soft orange-ish fur glowing in the light, and look at me waiting for the next release of the shutter.
What could be better for a portrait photographer than to have an ever present and willing subject? And her modeling fees were reasonable.
I don’t know how old that cat was when she wandered, cold and hungry, into our barn fifteen years ago. She certainly wasn’t a youngster. This last year she had been getting old fast like the rest of us, and this week, after a couple visits to the vet for medicine that was of little use to curb her failing health, Peaches died.
My wife, of course, will miss that cat purring on her lap and I am going to miss my ever-willing photography partner.