This picture was taken 18 years ago this summer, when Mudpuppy was about 5 weeks old. He kept that smug smile all his life. :)
Laurel asked, so I'll tell you how he got his name. I was working in an administrative office here at IU at the time, and I had 2 cats (Yoda and Ninja, who were half-siblings). My boss came in one Monday morning and told us that the day before, she and her husband had been about to take their boat out on Lake Monroe, but the neighbor's cat was on the boat and it took them forever to get her shooed off. Then when they were out in the middle of the lake, they saw this little ... creature come crawling out from underneath something on the boat. First they thought it was a rat, but then they realized it was a tiny baby kitten, and there were four of them. When they got back to shore, the mama cat seemed to say "nuh-uh, you took 'em, you KEEP 'em." So my boss gave them flea baths and all day she talked about how cute they were and how if nobody took them she would take them to the shelter where they'd probably just get put to sleep. Towards the end of the work day she ran home and came back with a Box Full Of Kittens. Needless to say ... I picked up this little tabby guy and held him up to my face to coo at him, and when he kissed me on the nose it was all over. I'd had no intention of bringing home a third cat, but how could I not?
So I took him home, and left him shut up in the bathroom while I went to work the next day because he couldn't even waddle all the way across the room without falling over a little (he was that tiny) and I was afraid my grown cats would beat the crap out of him, as they were considerably less than thrilled about the sudden appearance of this little fluffball. One of my co-workers said I should name him Bud. I'm not gonna name him Bud! I said. That's a dumb name. You should name him Spuds McKenzie, she said. Don't be silly, that's a dog name, I said. She walked around all day muttering "Bud! Spud! Mud! Pud!" and somehow that turned into "Mudpuppy" in my head. I'm not gonna name him Mudpuppy! I said to myself. That's a dumb name and who ever heard of a cat named after a stupid salamander?
But as I was standing in the front yard after work, waiting for the cab to come and take us to the vet (I didn't have a car at the time), holding this little bitty tabby kitten, I started talking to him (of course). I asked him if he wanted to be named Mudpuppy. And when the nicknames started coming out of my mouth -- Muppet, Mup-nuppet, Meep-nuppy (the only thing he could say was "meep! meep! meeeeep!"), I knew I was stuck with a cat named Mudpuppy.
And so I was, for 18 years.
After work today I stopped by the vet and picked up his ashes (a local kennel has a pet cemetery & cremation service, and they will pick up & deliver from the vet clinic if you want). I took a copy of the kitten picture I posted above, and all the techs and vets and a couple of other folks oohed and ahhed over how adorable he was. I took the bottle of insulin I bought for him just a couple days before he got sick and hadn't opened, and the brand-new box of syringes, and they will be given to another client who has a diabetic cat and doesn't have a whole lot of money. Maybe a little bit of the luck Mudpup enjoyed for 18 years will go along with it and help keep this other cat healthy. I hope so.