He's about 15 years old now, and thankfully the only signs that he's aging are his bad breath (his teeth have been going bad for years, now. It's my suspicion that the cause is the fact that he's never chewed his food), and that he has begun to get arthritically stiff. Glucosamine supplements seem to alleviate the latter…and the former I just have to deal with. At his age, taking him to the vet & having his teeth cleaned (and some removed, undoubtedly) under anasthetic seems a risk not worth taking.
Banzai (aka Bunny, Bunny-boo, Banza-slanza, Boo, Slanza-boo, Shnoodle-head, Fang, Foozle-boo, Hairball, Fat Hairball, Stinker, Stink-face and The Beast) is part Maine Coon Cat, part mutt. He's about 20 lbs, black, and very hairy (hair sticking out of his ears, tufts of hair between his toes, and long hair all over the place), with big green-gold eyes. He has upper & lower fangs (only one each, at this point, due to recklessness and tooth decay) that stick out when his mouth is closed.
Banzai & I were a case of love at first sight. Fifteen years ago, or thereabouts, I was working at a pet store in East Stroudsburg, PA. It was smallish, and owned by an individual rather that a corporation. Our primary source of kittens for sale was provided by the local community. They'd bring their litters in, at the appropriate age, and leave them with us. We'd have them vet checked & give them their first shots, and put them up for sale.
Pet stores, by the way, make their biggest profits in merchandise, rather than animals. We probably made no profit on the kittens we sold, but we did profit on the merchandise that people buy to go with a new pet.
One day, a lady came into the store with a big wicker picnic basket, the kind that has flaps on either side of the handle. She opened it, and pulled out the cutest kitten I have ever seen. It was a little silvery-blue fluffball, with black legs, a black face, and black stripes going up the tail. Looked like a tiny, elfin racoon. She had five more like this at home, she said, if we wanted the litter. My co-worker & I nodded dumbly.
About two hours later, she came back, picnic basket in hand, with all six kittens. The original kitten leapt out of the basket as soon as it was open, and skittered over to me, all afloof. Suddenly, I had a kitten. I think, in fact, that only one of the kittens actually eventually made it to sale to the public. All of us who worked there ended up with at least one, and I actually ended up with two of them. I named them Alexandar Banzai & Jakelee Balthazar. Jake has been gone for several years now; he was hit by a car & died in my arms. Banzai, however, is still going strong, as I noted. Shnozzling me & purring as I type, in fact. It appears I've been paying attention to the computer for far too long, and now must pay attention to him for a bit.
Okay, where was I?
Banzai is stuffed full of personality, even from the perspectives of people not so smitten with him as I. Even from the perspectives of other friends with their own cats. And even from the perspectives of a few avowed dog-people that I know.
First, he's a greedy pig. This is a trait he's had from the first, and is in fact how he got his name (well, the Banzai part, anyhow. I just liked the way Alexander sounded with it). I had a bookmark, at the time I got him, that pictured Garfield, falling downward toward a tray of lasagna, shouting "Bonzai!" I changed the spelling just because I'm contrary that way. Banzai eats almost everything. Some notably weird items on his favorites list include broccoli, some types of melon, and dried apples (which he will fight you for). Once a very soft-hearted friend of mine was visiting, and she offered him a small piece of the coffeecake we were having for dessert. He apparently (I was in the other room, fixing coffee) looked at her, looked at the offered tidbit, looked at her plate…then snagged the remaining large piece of cake from her plate and ran! Hilarity ensued, as another friend and I tried to figure out why Karen was suddenly shrieking with laughter.
Personality, I tell ya. He hates closed doors. He'll bomp his way through them, or annoy me until I open them for him. He has zero interest in other animals; he's all about people, and hands to pet him. He mrrrwwrrs, and mrrwows and makes other cute noises, too. Constantly, some days.
Best of all, he adores me. He'll lay beside me, gaze lovingly into my eyes, and pat at my face for attention. Absolutely the sweetest creature ever. Always there for me, over 15 years now, through everything. Animals rock.
Soon, I'll put some pictures of him up.