1. Baja got his name because I found him when we were finishing the SAE Mini-Baja buggy at UofL. He was skinny, hungry, and very friendly. He hung out around the shop where we were working, followed us over the railroad tracks to our test area where we performed acceleration runs, and followed us back to the shop where he ate some pizza. It was about 2am when we finished working that night, and I felt sorry for the poor guy. So I put him in my Integra, stopped by the gas station to get a couple cans of food, and headed home. I figured the Crazy Cat Lady living in the house next door would be able to take care of him. (She earned her name because she cared for a bunch of stray cats in her back yard and because she mowed the yard with cigarette butts sticking out of her ears.) I put him on my back deck, opened a can of food, and said goodbye to him. I didn’t see him the next day and figured he must be next door at his new home.

    The following rainy morning, I heard the wind howling outside, but I then realized it wasn’t the wind. I went to the back yard to investigate and I found two unknown cats growling and hissing at a bush. I walked over and the two cats ran away. I pushed back the branches and see a frightened, wet, and cold kitty. He immediately recognized me and when I picked him up, he started purring and rubbing his head against my chin. From that moment on, he was my cat.

    I kept him in the basement that first night, but he somehow managed to cut his leg the next day. After chasing a bleeding cat around the kitchen, so I treated his (very minor) wound and took him up to my room. He awakened me several times that night with an over-abundance of affection. The following weekend was the SAE competition, so I took him to my Mom’s house to stay; she and my step-dad instantly fell in love with him.

    On my first date with my wife, I told Nicole the story of how I met Baja. She didn’t believe me; she thought it was a made-up story that I used to win the affections of my dates. She was wrong. It was a true story I used to try to win her affections!

    After Nicole and I were dating for a few months, she brought over Sunny so we could see how our two “kids” got along. Sunny was her usual boisterous self and Baja was his usual gentle and friendly self. They got along great. And when we brought our daughter home from the hospital, he had basically the same reaction.

    His favorite things in life were chin scratches, sitting in someone’s lap, sleeping in boxes, chasing “da bird”, and removing Christmas ornaments from the tree.

    He hated being in cars. He meowed constantly and was so out-of-control that he at one point was hanging from my rear-view mirror until it rotated sideways, dumping him under my feet. That was in the car on my way to the pet store to get a cage for transport. Never again was he in the car without being in a cage. Not until last week when I took my sick friend to the vet. He didn’t make a sound laid curled up in a ball on the blanket in the passenger floorboard.

    He also hated moving. When he was moved to my first house, I walked through the garage, pressed the button to close the garage door, sat down his cage in the kitchen, and opened the cage door. He ran at full speed out of the cage, out of the kitchen, through the garage, and right under the about-to-close garage door. He tripped the door-reverse beam but I still had to wait for the door to open enough to get out. I saw him under a construction trailer in front of the house. But as I approached, he ran to the neighbors yard and into the bushes by what appeared to be the bedroom window. So I crawled through a strangers bushes at 11:30 at night to retrieve him. Upon returning to the house, he ran to an upstairs bedroom and crawled up into the box springs, where he stayed for a day and a half. Future moves were handled more carefully.

    He did experience his alley cat freedom once more, this time at our current house. Sunny needed to go outside in the middle of the night and I didn’t bother to put my glasses on. I was mostly asleep and didn’t notice him sneak out the door with her. But the moment did come back to me once Nicole and I realized he was no where to be found in the house. We printed out “lost pet” signs and put them in every mailbox in the neighborhood. We were distributing to the last 4 houses when we noticed a neighborhood cat that we called The White Nomad sitting in a front yard. Nicole and I both speculated that he might lead us to Mr. Kitty. We got out of the car, followed The White Nomad to the back of that house, and found Mr. Kitty sitting on edge of the basement window well. I startled him and he ran away — to hide in the bushes in front of the house, where I recovered him.

    When I first got him, the vet estimated that he was 5 years old, making him about 17 when he passed away. He had a great life, even with the kidney issues he had over the last year. I wanted to be there with him at the end, but he took an unexpected turn for the worse and Nicole had to go to the vet without me. She took great care of him and he knew that he was loved. Losing a pet is tough, but especially so when one is as treasured and loved as Baja was.

  2. Mr.Kitty was a great companion and will be missed terribly ! it was really nice to know him and be with him while I was there…. “Mr.Kitty alvida”

  3. I am that person you mentioned, I dislike cats….. this cat was indeed a cool cat and I am glad to have had the opportunity to have him change my opinion on felines. The coolest thing whenever I went to Carlton and Nicole’s house was seeing the cat sleeping on top of the aquarium, not in a “wanting to eat the fish” kind of way, but in a “because I can” kind of way. I mean, anyone who’s anyone sleeps on the aquarium. You were blessed to have had him in your lives.

  4. Baja was definitely the most friendly cat I have ever met. I also have a general dislike for cats, mostly due to there temperamental personality, but Baja really broke the mold. He was an awesome cat.

  5. Carlton; stumbled on your site while reading tv reviews. You’re a good man and Baja was lucky to count you as a friend. If you’re a reader, try ‘The Wild Road’ by Gabriel King.

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