Who’s Your Kitty! The Chop Suey Story (Aka Choppy)
Chop Suey was a unique cat. He was born a yellow Maine Coon, in a barn, in Maine according to his original person. He was brought as a kitten to Middlesex County, NJ. His person did not have a good understanding of his needs and allowed him to roam the neighborhood day and night with no curbing of his activity. Their dog also attacked him regularly.
We met Chop Suey in October of 2000 when Marc, Amanda, and I were house hunting. We opened the door and this big yellow blur ran past my legs and into the house. He wandered from room to room and when I finally got a look at him I was shocked. All of the fur on his right upper thigh and to his mid back had been ripped off and was healing. When I attempted to get close and coax him he ran out and was quickly gone. I told myself that if we bought the house and he was still here, I would take care of him.
Three months later we decided to buy the house, and within a few hours of our moving in Choppy came to visit. His fur had grown back and he seemed happy to see us. He wandered the house as we put things away, jumping in empty boxes and just being a nuisance in general. It was as though he knew that we were his people.
I decided to check with the neighbors about the cat before taking him to the vet. He had been in the neighborhood for several years and some of the families fed him regularly, but no one seemed to know where he lived if anywhere. He had just sort of shown up one day and had become sort of a mascot. He was neutered, so someone at some point had cared for him. Choppy was a beautiful animal, with glowing golden eyes and a temperament that was very human in many respects.
He had a unique sense of humor and played practical jokes. He also had a very strange maternal side to his personality. I received a call on a Saturday morning from my neighbor. She was yelling for me to run and quickly look out my back door at the cat. It was one of those YouTube moments that I did not catch. Choppy was lying on his back and about two feet away was a mother rabbit. Her babies were hopping on and around Choppy. One was actually on his stomach nuzzling his fur. It was if the mother rabbit had asked him to babysit while she took a little nap. I had never seen anything like it in my life. Choppy looked as happy as could be with the little bunnies around him.
He had one particular joke he loved to play, and our house was the perfect setup. The house we bought was an old 1929 Craftsman. Our bathroom door would not close securely, so we used a small heavy rock to hold it closed when we were using the room. If you forgot the rock, or did not set it right, choppy would visit. His idea of fun was to wait until you were firmly established in the business at hand and proceed to gently bite your calves and ankles. Visitors who failed to heed the warning to secure the door were sometimes heard screaming in the bathroom. You could see the smile on his face as he walked away with tail held high. He truly enjoyed nipping at anyone during their most vulnerable times.
My favorite thing about Choppy was that so many people cared for him. He was beautiful, smart, and funny. One day at work I received a call from the same neighbor who called me about the bunnies. Choppy had been arrested! I thought she meant animal control. She corrected me. “No,” he had been arrested. “The police stopped in front of your house and took him.” I called the police and asked to speak to the officer who had stolen the cat from my yard. After a few giggles and dispatch calls, the officer came to visit. It turned out that choppy had an “owner.” In fact, she lived one block over, and was the police officers X girlfriend. He thought if he returned her cat it might help him to gain her favor again. He drove around the block and brought the owner back to our house.
She came armed with photos of Choppy as a kitten (evidence of her ownership). As we stood on the curb discussing my love of the cat, and her obvious neglect, a small crowd of people began forming behind me. I call them the senior cat brigade. My neighbor had called everyone she knew on the street that had fed choppy and they all came to see this “owner” and wanted to know why they had been feeding her cat for over 6 years.
In the end I had to give him back, it was upsetting, but I realized she would not keep him inside. She had not been willing or able in the past six years why would she now? Within 2 hours choppy was at the back door. I called the owner and told her that she should come get her cat. She came, not to pick him up but to tell me I could keep him. It made no difference really, we were his people.
Choppy died of Lymphoma in 2010. He lived his last days out in the country in the company of his companions Sushi and Tastes like chicken. I love my cats, they are like family, but none compares to Choppy. He was unique in many ways.