This is Little Sir Henry Shackleton.
Since moving to California, we have had several cats appear on our doorstep, and have taken in/found a home for each one. But when I try to impress upon people how deeply you can connect with an animal, it is always stories of Henry that I turn to.
Even as a stray he always made it a point to sit on my lap for a cuddle before eating, which is still our routine today. My friend called him my “gentleman caller.” Once we brought him into the house he made it his own, constantly patrolling it and keeping an eye on us (baths are especially worrying). He kills our mice and rats, and lets us know when something’s moving outside. He watches us leave each morning, and he’s waiting on the window sill every night.
Soon after we took him in, I started writing again, the first time in several years; I have since written a dozen short stories and two novels (and even had a few things published), and Henry has been sleeping on my lap or at my feet for every single word.
He likes to hold your hand while cuddling.
His eye wound is permanent, as are the scars and nerve damage on that side of his face; when we first started taking care of him his ears were still scabbed from burning, his fur filthy, and he had more insect life on him than I want to remember. He has about half his teeth. Some months after he came indoors we also discovered that he has focal seizures. Yet he continues to be happy, content, and utterly loving.
He did not make a sound, other than purring, for 6 months; the first time he oh-so-tentatively meowed both my husband and I got teary-eyed. Since then he has developed a whole range of soft little meows, chirps, and a lovely contented sigh that escapes him on warm sunny days in the backyard.
Since joining our family, he has been a good parent to two foster kittens, and endured the arrival of a younger male cat. Through Henry, Leggy has learned that treats are safe to eat, the vacuum is something to fight not flee, and a welcoming lap bathed in sunshine is the best thing ever.
He sometimes sits at our bedroom window at sunrise and just purrs, while the light slowly fills his face.
He is a part of our family, and we are better people for having him in our lives.