~ ~ ~ Gammon's Story follows the photos ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kitty Gammon guarding the top of a three-level perch (about a foot and a half from the ceiling.) Notice her Charlie Chaplin mustache.

with a miniature Christmas tree. circa. 1986

Gammon was born in early 1985 - lineage unknown but notorious. Charles and Gerry rescued her from the authorities of the City of Long Beach Animal Control Facility near Signal Hill.

Why her? Simple. Gerry and Charles were looking for a cat (at the shelter among other places). Charles and Gerry visited cage after cage of homeless pets. With so many to choose from, something really different had to happen for any one cat to stand out from all the others. Some were friendly; most were ordinary or aloof. When Charles stooped down to look into Gammon's cage, kitty Gammon climbed part way through the bars of her cage, stood her front paws on Charles's knee and looked up at him hopefully.

That did it.

For choosing us, Gammon has proven herself right time and again over the years. She has the freedom of a 4200 square foot home with a room of her own. She gets to be hostess, greeting guests at the door with her own kitty-meow version of "How are you today." And she shows us how smart she is.

"Smarts" Story No. 1. When presented with the possibility of a tangible reward (Bonkers) Gammon has learned a few tricks to perform either upon receiving a hand signal, a voice command, or both. She knows how to Sit high, Roll Over, and -- the piece-y de resistance -- jump through the hoop.

"Smarts" Story No. 2. Several years back, stray foreign cats were getting through Gammon's cat door and eating Gammon's food. (Charles caught one of them in the act. Trying to coax it out the door was like trying to corner a tiger on safari.) We borrowed a small animal trap from Animal Control, set it on the back porch, and bated it with Tuna (the nuke of cat enticement).

By morning, the tuna had done its job; the trap had sprung. The plaintive sound of a caged, unhappy meow woke us up as it filtered into the house from the back porch. It was Gammon. She was unable to resist tuna temptation. She got the tuna; the neighborhood cats had to settle for Gammon's kibbles once again. We decided sterner measures were in order.

The next night, we bated the trap the same way again but were careful to tightly lock the two latches on the cat door. Somehow Gammon managed to open one of the two latches, pry herself out through the left half of the cat door and get to the reward at the cost of spending a second night in jail. The cats from elsewhere were absent.

We discussed the possibility of a third attempt but gave up. The cats had won.

Update of June 23, 2003.

After eighteen wonderful years, we took Kitty Gammon to the vet for the last time on Sunday, June 15th. Some time before noon, she started having a seizure. She had had them on occasion for the past few months, and each time it would pass after just a moment or two. But this time it would not, and we ultimately had to tell the vet (His name was Nightingale, no less) to let her peacefully go.

Standing in the private room, telling her our last goodbye while stroking her fur, Gerry and I thought back to the day we brought her home from the Long Beach Animal Shelter. That was September 15th, 1985. The Animal Control Officer lady who handed Gammon to us told us she was about 3 months old, so we decided at that time to subtract three months and make that her official birthday: June 15th, 1985.

On arriving back home, Gerry opened our domestic diary and wrote a single entry for the day: "Today we had to let Gammon go. She was always a sweet, gentle creature of God."

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