Tom Cullen

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Tom Cullen.
June 28, 2005 – August 14, 2015.

We unexpectedly said goodbye to Tommy on August 14th, a little more than a month after we lost his brother Sugarbutt. You can read the post about that here, and the tribute post to him is here.

About Tom Cullen (Tommy)
(Written in April 2012.)


I love this picture so very, very much. That’s Tommy as a wee one, jumping up for the feather teaser, Sugarbutt egging him on, and their sister Callie looking on.

Tommy will turn 7 at the end of June.

Tommy came to us in September 2005 as part of a litter of four. They were about 12 weeks old and all pretty friendly, but Tommy (who was then named “Barrett” – they came already named) was the friendliest of the bunch. I would go into the foster room and sit down, and before I was even completely on the ground, Tommy would be settled in my lap.

The litter was suffering from coccidia and giardia and the other three would fight being medicated, but Tommy would just swallow the medicine and go back to whatever he was doing. He was always the leader of that litter, and he always had at least one other kitten (but usually ALL of them) curled up with him.

The litter was with us for about six weeks, and the VERY day that they were scheduled to go off to Petsmart, Tommy started mysteriously limping. The leg didn’t seem to be causing him any pain, but there was a definite limp. We thought that maybe he’d come down off a cat tree particularly hard, and decided to keep him for a few extra days until he was feeling better.

With the rest of his litter off at Petsmart, Tommy really shone – he was sweet, he was funny, he was laid-back, he was snuggly. I mean, we’d already realized that he was an awesome guy, but without the other kittens around, his awesomeness was particularly obvious. By bedtime that night I’d suggested, in a non-pushy “You know, he is REALLY an awesome cat…” kind of way that maybe he’d be a good addition to the family. I didn’t beg or plead or demand, just made the suggestion and then moved on. As we lay in bed that night, Tommy snuggled between us, we talked about names for him – “I mean, we’re not keeping him, but what would be a good name for him?!” At one point, Fred suggested “Tom Cullen” (for those of you who don’t know, Tom Cullen is the name of a character from Stephen King’s novel The Stand. I will cut you if you ask if he’s named after a character from Twilight.) and we both laughed for a long time at the idea of using that name for a cat.

The next morning, Fred woke me up. “I have only one demand,” he said. “We have to name him Tom Cullen.” So we did. And that mysterious limp? Yeah, it went away just about the time I told the shelter manager that we wanted to adopt him. He’s no dummy.

Tommy is the cat who taught me just how awesome black cats are. He’s laid-back but not a pushover. He’s snuggly, but not pushy about it. Usually he starts out his night curled up against me. Eventually he gets warm and moves away from me, but if in the course of the night I move and touch him even the slightest bit, he responds by THROWING himself onto his back and flailing around so that I can give him a belly rub. There is nothing in this world that boy likes as much as having his belly rubbed.

I think I’ve mentioned that Tommy is our foster Ambassador. He is so good with the fosters, will tolerate them, tolerate their snuggling with him, and if they sit next to him long enough, he’ll groom them. He doesn’t seek out companionship from the fosters, but he is really good-natured when they come seeking friendship from him.

He’s a bit of an adventurer, too – if we should accidentally forget to put his collar on (and by “we”, I mean “Fred”, because he’s the one who’s supposed to collar up the cats before he opens the back door in the morning), you can just about guarantee that he’ll climb over the fence and look around. Luckily, he’s such a good boy that as soon as you call for him, he comes running.

Also, he loves catnip like nobody’s business. Last weekend when I was working in my raised-bed garden and absentmindedly left the gate to it open, Tommy came through to see what I was doing, and the next thing I knew, he was rolling around in the little raised bed where the two big catnip plants are growing. Boy loves his catnip!

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