Debbi says that when she went to get Blackjack and Roulette she knew Blackjack was the cat for her. I think she got Roulette partly because Roulette seemed to like me, but Blackjack was the cat for her. She wanted a black cat, and he played hard and seemed to like people. He came with his name, while Debbi came up with “Roulette” to match him.
Blackjack was a little sick as a kitten, but got over it. Then he became all kinds of trouble! He was bold and liked to check everything out. And after he played hard, he crashed hard and slept hard. He just kept going until he was done, and then he climbed somewhere he felt safe and zonked out.
(click the thumbnails for larger images)
Blackjack also chose Debbi as his human. He would often nuzzle at her neck while kneading her and purring, something we called “giving her wuv”. He only did this for me once, when he was a kitten and she was visiting her family back east and had left them with me. But otherwise this was something he saved for her.
I think he had designs on becoming top cat when he came to my place, but Jefferson knocked him off of that idea promptly. Then he and Newton started fighting to see who would be second cat. We called them the “silent wrestlers”, as they would struggle on the floor without meowing or yelping. I’m not sure who won that struggle, since when Jefferson passed away we think Roulette moved from being bottom cat to being top cat, without anyone putting up a fight.
Blackjack was a very demonstrative kitty: He would often fall asleep on the floor, and then eventually end up lying on his back, exposing his tummy for everyone to see. We think he meant he was happy and comfortable with us. He was also very strong, being 14 pounds of pretty solid muscle, with powerful hind legs that could let him leap sideways quite some distance from a starting position. He had the most pathetic meow, sounding like someone was torturing him, when he was perfectly fine. Since he was all black, he could meow without us seeing his mouth open, which was pretty weird at times.
Like I said, he was a trouble-maker: He was a shoelace chewer. He liked to eat vegetables: Corn, frozen peas, and he’s gnaw on banana peels. Once he went deaf he got even pushier at the dinner table, trying to grab our food, and of course saying “no!” to him would have no effect! He would sometimes pull out one of his nails grooming himself, with just the quick sticking out from his paw. The nail always grew back, but that was kind of strange.
He and his sister wrestled and chased each other a lot. When they started chasing each other upstairs at the townhouse Debbi would say, “The elephants have been released!” Blackjack would often play harder than Roulette really wanted, and she’d meow in protest until we separated them. But he didn’t bite or otherwise cross the line.
Blackjack was – along with Newton – our social cat. He’d hang out when we had visitors, and as recently as last month he was up on the dining room table checking out what we were up to when I had friends over to play Magic. When our friends Lisa and Michel brought their daughter Isabella over, he was the one who eventually went over to check her out. She sat down and he sniffed her from toe to head, with her looking a bit startled by it all. Then he decided that was good enough for him and he left.
He would find strange places to sleep: Under the shelves in the closet at the townhouse. Under the desk. In the laundry basket. Places where it was hard to spot him because he was all black! He liked sleeping under the Christmas tree, too. He also discovered the heating vents under the cabinets in the new house, and enjoyed sitting in front of them last winter; he’d usually be in front of one every morning when I came down. He liked looking out the window, and was more curious than agitated when we got outdoor feline visitors (whereas Roulette would go nuts over the intruder).
And of course he would play: Jump after toys, run up and down the stairs. My Mom gave us a two-foot-long tube with fleece on the inside, and I could get him to run back and forth through it for quite a while. And then he’d get tired and he’d sack out inside it. Like the other cats, he enjoyed being carried outside, but he was especially aggressive about trying to eat grass if we put him down, so we usually didn’t.
I wanted to end with what I think is the quintessential Blackjack picture. He was still young when Debbi took this picture with her phone, but it captures his innocence and curiosity. He still had his whole life ahead of him and he was ready to enjoy every minute: