Gravesite a memorial to Meow . . . the Port Angeles mill cat
Meow the cat’s gravesite on the shuttered Rayonier mill site in Port Angeles.
Meow the Cat, who died earlier this year at the age of 18, sits on the back wheels of a tractor-trailer parked at the former Rayonier mill site in this photo from four years ago. The cat called the former mill site home and was buried there in August.
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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The grave marker, made simply from a small plank lashed to a length of wooden pole, is planted next to where a cat known as Meow was buried after his death in August.
Meow was what everyone called the cat, former Rayonier mill employee Randy Boston said, due to the distinctive, elongated mewl he made when greeting people.
“[Meow] got to be sort of a local celebrity after he got friendly,” Boston said.
The cat called the mill site home for his roughly 18 years.
He survived the mill's demolition, the elements and, by Boston's estimation, all manner of wild animals.
The cat was well-known to joggers and walkers along the Waterfront Trail, which winds through the Rayonier property, Boston said, adding that he marked Meow's grave after burying him to let people know what happened to the “Rayonier mill cat.”
Boston was one of a handful of people, mostly former mill employees, who had a hand in Meow's care over the years.
Gloria Cornish said she was one of the first mill employees to feed and interact with Meow, a grayish-brown feline with a white moustache and whiskers.
She was quick to point out, however, that Boston and his wife, Nancy, were responsible for Meow's well-being for most of the cat's life.
“[Boston] and his wife, they took such good care of him,” Cornish said.
Meow's life began as one of five kittens born to a cat that also called the mill home while it was operating, Cornish said.
In the mid-1990s, Cornish said, Lisa Parrish, a mill employee taking care of the mother cat, was successful in finding homes for all but one of her kittens.
The odd one out was Meow.
“He was the only one she wasn't able to find a home for,” Cornish said.
“Basically, he wouldn't let [Parrish] near him.”
When the mill closed in 1997, Parrish asked Cornish to leave food out for the lone kitten, which had come to live on the mill property itself.
“[Of] course I'm an animal lover, and I [was] just not content with putting food out,” Cornish said.
Won cat's confidence
Cornish spent the next two months or so slowly winning the cat's confidence.
She moved closer and closer while the cat was eating in his traditional spot, not far from the still-standing storage tank on the east side of the property, until he allowed her to pet him.
About 15 years after Meow first got used to Cornish, she still remembers his love of physical contact.
“He would always come and eat some of his food and want to be loved up,” Cornish said.
“He was really a neat cat that way.”
When Cornish's job at the mill ended in 1999, Boston took over Meow's care, she said.
Boston and his wife kept a near-daily feeding regiment for the cat, passing the duties off to friends when the couple were out of town.
“He ended up being very friendly the last several years,” Boston said.
Could defend himself
Although quick to take food and a caress from caretakers once he got to know them, Meow also seemed to know how to take care of himself, Boston said.
Boston recalled one time when the cat disappeared from his usual haunt on the mill site.
Meow returned about three months later with a 4-inch patch of fur missing and what appeared to be talon marks on his side.
Boston said he could never be sure but thinks Meow survived a tangle with an eagle or other bird of prey.
“After that, he stayed pretty darn close [to his regular spot],” Boston said.
In recent years, Meow's age had caught up with him, and the hardy feline had stopped eating, Boston said.
“He was a bag of bones,” Boston said.
In mid-August, Boston called a veterinarian he knew to the mill site to examine Meow.
The decision then was made to put the elderly cat down.
The 18-year mill site resident, however, kept his spirits up right until the end.
“Like the vet said when she put him to sleep, he went out purring,” Boston said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 27. 2013 2:06AM