Munchkin (called that because of his short legs) was the bravest cat I've ever known. Not because he knew no fear, but rather because he was scared all the time, yet still did what he needed to. When he and his sister were tossed out of their prior home, he was the one who led them both to out house and convinced my wife to take them in. When our friends very young daughter wanted to "pet the kitty", he held still (very tensely) on the back of the couch long enough for her to touch him, trusting us to take him out of real trouble. He so wanted to be a proper housecat. It's all he ever really wanted.
You could see by his actions he wanted to be petted, but his reactions betrayed him, and usually he'd try to bite. But he was getting better all the time, and his capacity for petting before he reacted was increasing daily. He'd convinced himself it was okay to be petted on the bed, for that was the proper place for such things. So if he wanted petting he'd go off to the bedroom, sprawl on the bed and wait for the humans to show up. Once you started petting him, he'd lie there and take it, until he reached a fill line. Then, he'd start trying to bite or claw, but once you took your hand away, he'd calm down and bump you with his head, or try to lick you. Then you could try again and usually he'd react much better that time.
He was never one for people food, whenever the bowls were filled with the generic dry catfood he preferred you could see his reaction: "Catfood! Oh Boy! Catfood again...I'm so lucky!" Then he'd charge over and chow down. Probably because of the times when there was no catfood.
Then there was the orange streak effect. First thing in the morning he'd be at the patio door waiting for it to open. You'd approach it to open it, but he'd leap away, scared again. Then you would open it and he'd tear out from where he'd retreated to, over to the door, an orange and white blur. Once he and his sister tried to go out the door at the same time and collided side by side, it looked pretty funny.
At night, he was convinced that I was the in-place to sleep. On my feet or ankles; as a head pillow or as a body pillow. And his sister thought between my legs, especially on my groin was the choice location. So I'd wake up in the morning, and still groggy, wonder why I couldn't move my legs. A few days before the end, I was on my back with my left foot against my right knee and my right leg outstretched. Cali had settled into the triangle formed by my legs, and Munchkin had settled right next to my left shin.
On his last day, tuna sandwiches were served. Kate had opened a can and doled out the juice evenly between Munchkin, Flye and Cali. But the other cats weren't that interested so he ended up with most of it. I saw him sprawled out on his side at the door corner of the bed so I tried to pet him on his back. So I gave him a few strokes on his back, and he made half-hearted attempts to bite me again. But I was careful and stayed out of reach. So then he turned over onto his other side. And we went through the same thing there. Finally he rolled onto his belly and accepted petting. I think Flye was on the diagonally opposite corner. Later he moved up the bed, with his tail twitching in Flye's face, to get more petting.
While not the biggest cat, he was a strong cat for his weight. A tail like a scaled down orange labrador retriever, and short legs, with the back ones a little longer than the front to give him a hot rod look. I called him the low slung sportscar model cat. Oddly though, he was low cat on the totem pole, with Flye on top and Cali battling it out in second place.
He'd chase his sister through the yard, then she'd chase him.
Sometimes they'd be Library lions on the couch arms.
Every so often we'd get a present, usually the remains of some bird, though the last time it was a whole rat in the bedroom.
The names Munchkin and Cali were just for something to call them when they were being fed outside. When they became house cats it was too late to change them. Cali we decided was no longer short for Calico, but rather the Goddess of Destruction. We were thinking that Munchkin might magically become short for Munchhausen.
He was hit by some vehicle the night of October 2, 2005, probably between 8 and 9 pm. He'll be buried in the backyard that he wanted so much to belong in.
We miss him already.
He was the bravest cat I ever knew. Always scared, but still persevering. He imagined a world where he (and his sister) would be our housecats and made it happen. Short legs, big body, orange tabby tuxedo, and a great heart.