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Floyd, the amazing piano-playing cat, made audiences purr

floyd the cat

You know how first cats are. They are like first loves. And I don’t mean puppy love.

You will never find another cat like your first. We got Floyd as a kitten in 1978, before we had our first child. My then-husband named him after one of his friends, Floyd Silver. It suited him. He was a Maine Coon, as far as we knew. Now Maine Coons are smart, and I mean really smart.

First we trained him (at 6 months) to shake a paw. Then we put him on the teletype machine (predecessor to the computer) and taught him to press the keys. He would get a reward each time he pressed. It was a kind of paste out of a tube that he loved and was good for his hairballs as well.

Then we taught him to play the piano. No, I’m not kidding. We went to a toy store and asked the clerk for a piano with wide keys. Why do you need wide keys, he asked? We were afraid to say it was for a cat, so we just smiled.

floyd the catWe would have cat concerts. Floyd had his own tail so we didn’t have to buy him a tux. We would have a party, invite friends, give out tickets, and put the piano in the middle of the living room. Everyone would be seated and instructed not to applaud the show or make noise. Then we would call Floyd. He would saunter in, place himself in front of the piano and begin. We called his pieces the “Random Paw Blues.” He would press a few keys and we would reward him with his vitamin paste. He would continue. The audience was in awe of his skills. After a few “tunes,” he would saunter out. He sort of got it. He was a born performer.

We had two daughters and Floyd became a playmate for them when they were babies. They would ride on him and he allowed it. He was incredibly affectionate. He would come right up to our heads in bed, sit on top of them and place his body around us. He would climb up on our laps and put his arms around our necks and just “hug” us.

He would go out freely and come back. Once he got lost. We were devastated and put up signs. After five days of crying and grieving, he was found in a neighbour’s garage. They had accidentally closed the automatic door on him and he was trapped. But cats like Floyd can survive this kind of thing and he did. We were more careful about letting him out, but he still went out. In those days, we didn’t really know how dangerous this could be.

Floyd lived till he was 20. He survived our divorce, our joint custody of him along with our children, and the dangers of Westmount Ave. No, he never crossed. As I say, he was smart. But he couldn’t survive cancer. He died at his “dad’s house,” in the kitchen.

We always think of Floyd as our first and best cat. He was a performer and a lover of our family. These days he would have made it big on YouTube. But back then, he was one loved and lucky cat, needing no more than a cuddle and our love and admiration.

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