Toorak Tux

If Tux was a two-legged person, he'd live in Manhatten.

If Tux, my cat, was a two-legged person, he would choose to live in Manhattan, Melbourne or Mayfair. He has earned the nickname of Toorak Tux, after a flash part of Melbourne, Australia.

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He would wear a cravat and have numerous mirrors in his home. He would accept fillet steak for dinner but would look down his nose at beef stew.

Even though he would be a vain person, once he got to know someone he would be affectionate, and would even share his insecurities.

What a disaster for such a beautiful self-assured cat. How did he come to be living in a tumbledown house in Cygnet with a mad lady and an uneducated black kitten?

His Backstory

A kind lady had seen a car pull over to the side of the road in Bellerive. A young man got out, retrieved a black and white cat from inside the car and dropped him on the sidewalk. He then climbed into the car and drove away.

The lady looked at the cat and then at the car disappearing in the traffic. She knew couldn’t take the cat home, but she couldn’t just walk away. She approached him, and he was perfectly happy for her to pick him up. She knew there was a Vet practice close by, so she headed there.

She told them her story, and left the abandoned cat with them.

The Temp Bookkeeper

I had accepted a “temp” bookkeeping position at a Vet practice in Bellerive. I started on a Tuesday, and on the Friday I went home with a very confused cat.

By the time I arrived, Tux had been there for a few weeks. Nobody wanted him because he’s a big boy with lots of long hair. My new colleagues told me about him eagerly when they found out that I had just adopted a stray kitten. “A companion”, they said.

I went to meet him. I chatted to him and picked him up. He looked me in the face, and was clearly waiting for me to fix his situation. He wanted to go home. To his home.

I agreed to adopt him both to give him a loving forever home, and to provide a companion for my little black kitten, Bubby. Bubby lost his Mum very early in life and still needed to learn a few things. I thought maybe Tux would be a good influence.

I named the new boy for the little black bowtie of fur on his white throat. He really looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo!

Tux at Cygnet

Tux Comes Home

But it was a different story when I got him into the house. He was very vocal, telling me that I had brought him to the wrong house, and where was his owner?

He totally ignored Bubby, who was now staring at him in fascination. He went to explore the house. Bubby and I followed him from room to room. I drew his attention to the bedding I had laid under my bed. My room was meant to be his “safe” room until he settled in. He looked at me in disbelief and walked out the bedroom door.

The house was secure, so I left him to wander around and went to the kitchen to start dinner. I opened the frig and he ran into the kitchen, asking for his dinner. I opened a can of cat food and put it out for him in his new bowl. He had a sniff and then sat down, not accepting this offering.

I put my bolognese sauce into the microwave to defrost. When it finished Tux ran over to the sound of the beeps.

It puzzled me that a beautiful looking cat that knows what a microwave is for would be dumped at the side of the road. He was obviously well looked after, surely his real owner wouldn’t treat him this way? Then it hit me. The real owner must be out of the picture. I have come to believe that the owner died, or became ill, and the family was left with the cat. This was their solution, to dump the cat. Haven’t they heard of cat shelters, or even of Vet practices?

And here he was in my house, still waiting for his owner to come back.

That first weekend he was not very sociable. When I went looking for him, I frequently found him in what he thought was a safe spot. The first time I located him at the top of my bookcase sitting on some historical newspapers I had found in my old house. Oh well, he was comfortable.

On that Saturday afternoon, I lost track of him. I looked everywhere, with Bubby’s help. There was no way for him to get out of the house, but by Saturday night I was wondering if he had found a way out.

On Sunday morning I walked into the kitchen and was talking to Bubby. I heard a muffled meow. I looked at Bubby and asked him if that was him. Then we heard it again. It was coming from the kitchen sink. I opened the cupboard doors below the sink and heard it again. My house was an incomplete house. There was a hole from the cupboard wall into the top drawer. And I could see black fur.

I couldn’t believe he had managed to jam himself in there. It’s an unused cutlery drawer, so it is not a tall drawer. Getting him out took a few minutes. He wanted to come out but was stuck. I carefully moved him around and got him out a bit at a time. He was very embarrassed when he was eventually sitting on the kitchen floor, and went away to the bedroom to have a good wash.

I’ve never seen a truly depressed cat before, but this cat was inconsolable. He mourned for his owner for a year. It broke my heart, and I wondered if adopting him had been the right thing to do. He is the only cat I have met who likes to sit on a cushion like cats in cartoons. He took up residence on a large cushion at my end of the couch . He was so sad that I let him stay there.

A year later I took him for his vaccinations at the same Vet practice, and he obviously knew where he was. I think he was so grateful that I took him home again that he started to think that maybe his life at Cygnet wasn’t so bad.

Uncle Tux

That was in August 2004. Tux and Bubby have a good relationship, although I don’t think Tux has taught Bubby too much. It was me that showed him how to dig a hole in the garden!

When my Dad was sick I had no choice but to board them in a cattery when I made trips to Sydney. The first time was just before Christmas. When I called the cattery, they said they were fully booked, but because of the nature of my trip they would fit my boys in. They said that they would need to share the “room”. That was fine for these guys.

It turns out that Tux is quite the compassionate soul. He went out of his way to comfort the younger cat, who had never been boarded before. After that, they always went into the same room and slept in the same bed. When the attendant tried to take photos of them for identification purposes, he couldn’t get a shot of them separately. Tux took the boarding in his stride but was happy to come home again. At home, he went back to his own reserved self because Bubby didn’t need his support at home. But each time they returned to the cattery during that awful period, Tux stepped up to the plate with his uncle duties.

He is stretched out in front of the heater as I write this. He is my writing buddy. Maybe adopting him was the right thing to do after all.

Tux, My Writing Buddy

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