Fernando (aka “Nando,” “Fernie,” “Cat-Shaped Hole in the Universe,” “Barry White”) is our third pet by acquisition, first by age, and first in decibels.*
*(Except when Fritz is hungry. Then Fritz is louder.)
Fernando was born circa July 20, 1999, on Green Street in Urbana, next door to the now-defunct COUCH co-op Green House. Neither of his mothers (feline or human) seemed able to take good care of him and his sibling(s), and when Andy, a resident of Green House, discovered little Fernando and Sasha, she took them in. They were a little young to be taken from their mom, and pretty sick, so she had to hand-feed them to nurse them back to health. I believe that’s why both grew up to be so (and I use the phrase judiciously) excessively cuddly.
Andy’s ministrations certainly paid off, and both Fernando and Sasha grew up to be healthy, handsome cats. Here’s a teenage Fernando perched on the banister at Green House (photo: perial)
After one year, the population grew to 7, with the addition of Fritz (i.e., 4 humans, 3 cats). The year after that, Green House closed, and the co-op (old and new humans, cats, a few spiders) moved to Phoenix House, near downtown Champaign, and the population grew to 8, this time including me.
At Phoenix House, the cats had the run of two floors and an invitingly dank and dark basement full of obscure corners and crawlways in which to poop. They developed some bad habits there.
Politically, power dynamics shifted constantly, usually in an ongoing struggle between brothers Sasha and Fernando for the upper paw (shy, awkward Fritz, though the biggest of the three, just tried to stay out of the way).
Mice were consistent losers, and the three developed a co-operative system of tag-team mouse torture and execution. Soon after moving in, I came home from a weekend away to a funny smell in my room. Sniffing around like one of the cats myself, I eventually uncovered a very dead mouse carefully tucked under the covers at the foot of my bed. How….sweet. I’m pretty sure it was either Fernando or Sasha.
Here, Fernando and Sasha enjoy the view from the front window (my room).
Sasha was, though it seems incredible to write it, actually more cuddly than Fernando. He had the physique of a stuffed animal with a few bones thrown in for texture. Sadly, he also had the brains of a stuffed animal. Of the three, he was the most persistent in demanding to go out (not allowed) and in escaping, the least likely to return promptly, and the most likely to meet misadventure in the meantime. We like to imagine that he had a second family to which he took vacations, but it is equally likely that he just kept getting lost or stuck. Finally – I believe it was in the spring of 2004 – he failed to come back at all.
Wishing he had a brain:
Years later, when Mr. Merp, Fritz and I moved to the neighborhood where Fernando was born, we discovered that the upstairs cat, Mr. Booger, had the same voice as Fernando, and an identical penchant for singing extended evening arias. We postulate that he was, at the very least, Fernando’s uncle.
Fernando lives to be loved. Whether he himself loves is less apparent, but we take it on faith. But let his need for love not be denied, lest there be deep annoyance, and singing.
New and promising developments are afoot, as Pisco rises (uh, sinks) to take on some of the cuddling responsibilities.