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Jerry accuses me on a regular basis of stealing his cat. If you’re a cat owner, you’re laughing, because you know perfectly well that it’s the cat who chooses – people can try- but if a cat doesn’t like you, she will straight up leave and move into the neighbors’ house if she likes them better. In our case, Duke did choose Jerry. I wasn’t even there. I was just a pleasant accompaniment.

Seriously, how could you NOT feed this boy?

It was the spring of 2009. Jerry had moved to Texas to run one of our properties. A cat appeared one day, meowing at the back door. He had a whole Lady and the Tramp routine. There was a loud meow to get your attention, then when you opened the door, a very cute (but still loud) meow, with BIG, striking green eyes. He did this cute paw thing where he would raise his leg and stretch his toes in and out like he was kneading the air. It was straight up adorable and you were compelled to feed him. He was skinny and dirty, which only made you want to feed him more. He’s no fool.

One day Jerry opened the back door to the demands of the scruffy cat. The mercury was creeping up and the smart kitty was hot. So he walked on in to the AC and plopped down on the kitchen floor. There was no invitation. It’s just how it was going to be. I received a call at our home in California from someone posing as my husband, “So what would I need to do if I wanted to keep this cat?”

It’s worth mentioning here that my husband is (was) not a cat person. I was already an accidental cat lady when Jerry met me (really, it happens by accident). When we moved in together I brought Simon and Jerry tolerated it. After Simon passed we were catless for a few months. Then came Cecilia and months later, Theodore. Two was the “limit” and while Jerry had approved them both, I initiated the adoptions. He has since become The Cat Whisperer because any cat will come to him, but at the time, nearly ten years ago, this call came as quite a shocker.

I gave him a list of things to buy and the cat took to hanging out with him during the day, following him to the management office (where there was AC). At night he began choosing Jerry’s company over hanging out in the broken down Fire Bird he used to live in. He’d steal Jerry’s socks and hide them. He’d meow to go outside to relieve himself. Never, ever an accident indoors. Such a smart boy.

Ah, but how’d he get his name you ask? Ohhh, that swagger. This cat had a swagger like no other. He owned everything. He was the Texas Cat. He was like John Wayne. He was The Duke.