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Told by Keith in El Dorado Hills, CA
After a year of college, I went back down to Santa Ana for the summer, and I went to work for an architectural firm, and my friend was working at an aircraft plant. One night he had come home with this scrawny little kitten that had been feeding in the field, and it was so starved, and so dirty, and so, uh, mangey, that the guys that he was working with wanted to put the cat out of its misery. So he brought the cat home because he thought these guys were gonna kill it. They were a bunch of old Viet Nam vets that worked at this place. It was a strange place, because I had worked there, too, before I went to college. So this little cat – we cleaned it up, and we fed it, and it meowed, and the two of us were staying in this apartment with his dad. We kept the cat for a couple of days, and the cat took a big dump in the hallway. My friend’s dad had the habit of getting up at like 4:30 in the morning, and he would wander down the hallway in the dark, and read a book for an hour. Well, he stepped right in the middle of this cat poop in the hallway! It had the whole orange, kinda shag carpet, you know? And he was trying to get the cat poop out from between his toes and draggin’ his foot in the shag, and just made a mess! And so he came home from work that day (we were sleeping), and he said ‘I want that cat out! I want that cat out of here!’ He was emphatic.

So my buddy Ron, who was my best friend since I was 10 years old, and I put the cat outside. We lived on the second story of this two-story apartment complex. We said ‘Sorry, cat, you can’t stay here anymore.’ And we put him outside, and we thought for sure that somebody else would take the cat in, since it was a large apartment complex.
Then a few minutes later we hear this ‘Meow! Meow! Meow!’ And we’re like ‘What the heck?’ And we open up the front door, but the cat’s not there. And we’re like ‘Where is this meow?’ and it’s continuing ‘Meow! Meow! Meow!’ And we’re like ‘Where the heck is this cat?’ So we’re looking all over the place – we can’t find this cat, and we walk into his bedroom – and the cat is there clinging to the screen of this second story window, going ‘Meow! Meow! Meow!’ So we took the screen off, flipped it around and let the cat off and we’re looking down out the window and we’re like ‘How the heck did that cat get up there?’ So we put the cat out and close the door, then we run over to the window to see. The cat runs right down the stairs, over to the side, and there was this trim piece on the stucco exterior of the building, and it went all the way up to the second story window, and he just climbed all the way up on the corner of the piece, he just dug his claws in and climbed right up, and right onto the screen, and there he was again! And we took off the screen, turned it around, pulled the cat off. So we went ‘That’s the most amazing cat ever. There’s no way we can get rid of that cat!’ So I said, ‘Ron, we gotta keep this cat. I’ll take him back to college with me. Please talk to your Dad and convince him.’ So his dad agreed. But I had to clean up the cat poop! (grin)
So I named the cat ’Rusty’, because he was a rusty-colored tabby. And at the end of summer I took him back up to college with me. There I was living with some older student buddies, and Rusty would party with us, and everyone agreed he was a totally cool cat!