Tarzan and Victor, Kings of Mystery and Memory

What follows is all true.

The Mystery Cat

Tarzan’s fur grew thick and long. He smelled wild. He had unusually wild traits:

Short legs. A stocky tail. Opposable thumbs. A habit of dunking food in water before eating it. The ability to strategize and lead a group of domestic cats.

We believe he was raised by raccoons.

But Tarzan was a cat.

My sister-in-law’s family lured him away from a city pack of raccoons who’d been stealing trash. He adjusted well to eating cat food (dunked in water as needed), sleeping indoors, and playing with toys.

Years later, one of my nieces was flipping through a book on wild cats. I glanced over her shoulder, amazed at all the unfamiliar species, then stopped her on one page. The photograph of the European wildcat looked exactly like her Tarzan! She agreed but kept on flipping through the book.

I’ve since learned he might have been not only raised by raccoons, but part raccoon. Maybe. Raccoon-cats are possible. That would explain the physical features not reportedly shared by wildcats; also, it would explain why he lived so far from the wildcats he most resembled.

The Talking Cat

Ultimately, it might not matter what Tarzan was, other than a member of the family.

We tend to accept that our pets are whatever they are.

Several years ago, I kept a domestic cat who could speak English words. We didn’t teach him how. We don’t why, but he conversed.

The most consistent words were “out”; “why”; “momma”, for someone he’d once know; and “carpet”, for when he needed to vomit. (He had allergies and a sensitive stomach that took us a couple years to figure out).

We would warn everyone who agreed to cat-sit that Victor could talk. However, no one fully understood what we were warning them about until they witnessed his conversations for themselves.

Tuxedo cat with cream-colored fur stacked on his headVictor, a tuxedo ragdoll cat © A.M. LynnSometimes it was annoying to deal with a back-talking cat.


“No, Victor, you aren’t going outside right now.”


“Because it’s not a good time for me to go out with you.”


“I said so! Find something to do inside!”

To his credit, he would listen to me.

Sometimes it was annoying to deal with a back-talking cat.

I understand why Tarzan’s family didn’t make a big deal of their incredible pet. When friends or coworkers asked why I wasn’t taking videos of Victor to promote him on YouTube, I’d shrug. It didn’t occur to me while I was at home to video him.

One reason might’ve been that he was what he was–a member of the family. The idea of trying to gain popularity or earn money off a member of the family who can’t consent to it, all while I couldn’t predict what negative consequences would come of that, was uncomfortable.

What mattered to us was how we could take care of Victor. He was what he was–a talking cat, but also, a loving, intelligent cat with fur that felt like a rabbit’s and an unfortunate beef allergy.

Tarzan was whatever he was, too.

I’m grateful to have known them both.

Thanks go to John Lynn for corroborating the facts in this post. Happy #Caturday.