Mister Gus Nilsen, also known as Goose, Gooseboy, Tiger Tail Tufted Toe and various other aliases and monikers, passed away early in the morning on October 24, 2008, from complications related to asthma. Born on March 6, 2000, to Vernetta Jane and Falcon Hawk of Tayaway Cattery, Gus always had a regal bearing even at his silliest moments. His parents hoped he would fulfill his early promise of greatness by seeking a career as a cat show star. Even a stint in cat food commercials would have been acceptable. As the picture below demonstrates, Gus had the charisma of a model when it came to the camera. However, Gus’s outward dignity and pride concealed a wild streak, likely a rogue gene from his distant Viking ancestors, the Norwegian Forest cats.
His disappointed parents sent him away as a two-month-old kitten to seek his fortune. He somehow found his way to the infamous Nilsen family, a known hideaway for silly dogs, fish who eat their friends, and stray cats with bad attitudes. Dashing his parents’ last hopes for him, Gus shunned the show and stud circuit. Instead, he misspent his youth basking in the sunlight, begging for lunch meat, rolling in burr patches, using the neighbor’s property as his personal litter box, and shedding on the couch. He ran away from his new home once as a rebellious teenager and spent two days and nights 65 feet up a poplar tree, only jumping down when the dreaded tree man came for him. Far tougher than his plush appearance would suggest, Gus survived the jump and was at the door howling for his dinner in no time. However, Gus never forgot nor forgave the tree man, snubbing him whenever the man showed up at the house. A mostly gentle giant, Gus never needed to be much of a fighter to express his opinions. Usually a loud, deep “yowellll!” and a bat with one of his large, tufted paws was enough to make His Highness’s wishes known.
He settled into a career as a gardening, reading, and cooking consultant, accompanying the Nilsens on their various tasks around the house and offering his advice and companionship, particularly when lunch meat was involved. He also often took it upon himself to entertain houseguests, draping himself across the furniture or floor and flicking his tail as he stared at people with his unnervingly understanding gaze. A vain creature, he knew his own gorgeousness and made frequent use of his appearance to gain admiration and treats.
Gus had some funny, occasionally criminal habits. He would often climb into spaces far too small for him and sleep, his long, raccoon-like tail sometimes the only evidence of his presence. A voracious reader, he frequently took naps on magazines, books, even his mistress’s manuscript. Every time his mistress would return home from a trip with a certain blue duffel bag, Gus would climb on the bag and sleep, one time even riding it through the house. He fell in love with one guest’s sleeping bag (the material crinkled invitingly when he jumped on it). He left a half-chewed bit of meat grizzle on the bag where the guest would put her hand on it, a clear message of his intentions towards the bag. She was not amused. Another time, he peed on the sofa where his mistress would sit because he didn’t like that she had let some stray kittens play in his area. She was not amused either, at least at the time.
Once he and his hoodlum friend Maytag demolished a Christmas tree. They stole all the glass balls and hid them in an undisclosed location in the house, pulling one or two out each night for a week and batting them around the wooden floors with a festive tinkling. The Nilsens never did find where Gus and Maytag hid the stash of ornaments, a testament to their feline cunning.
Despite these occasional lapses, Gus was the bestest of cats, even winning over the crusty Glenn Nilsen. Glenn loved to give Gus gourmet treats such as Norwegian cheese and summer sausage, and then scratch him under his chin. If Gus didn’t show up in time for his treat, Glenn would yell into the night, “Gus! Gus, get in here, you sonofabitch!” and Gus would come running, his beautiful tail held high. He never came for “Here, kitty, kitty,” evidently considering kitty an unworthy title for his feline greatness.
Edward Scrap, the cat who never won a fight but kept valiantly trying until the end, and Maytag, MIA and presumed killed in the Hickory Nut Mountain coyote wars, preceded Gus into cat heaven. Gus was laid to rest today beside his adopted brother Edward, in sight of the garden and koi pond both so loved. He is survived by Big Agnes the fish, Bessie, Maddie, Honey (the dog who thinks she’s a cat, to the point that she washed Gus’s ears for him) and the great Miss Chessie Cat, known best for her namesake’s famous ad campaign for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, her eccentric hobbies such as keeping frogs as pets in the basement sump pump hole, and her bad attitude (we won’t mention her arrest in 2006 for slapping a veterinary assistant.) Gus will be sorely missed by all his family and friends. Disclaimer: The nature of Gus’s relationship with the big blue rabbit in one of the pictures below is unconfirmed. The rabbit was unavailable for comment at this writing.Read More