The charmed life of our sweet grey rescue, Houdini Maeckle Rivard, came to an end on September 11, 2020–almost exactly 15 years after she entered our lives that same month in 2005.
Rescued from her cage at the Alamo Heights Pet clinic where 18-year-old Alexander Rivard worked as a vet tech, the grey cat with bewitching green eyes joined our family and became a much loved companion.
Houdini quickly made friends with her big brother, Chester the cat, who taught her how to drink from a faucet. She and Cocoa, her canine sister, would carefully exchange sniffs, and after years of cautious courtship, became great companions.
Initially, she was meant to be Alex’s cat, but when school took him out of state, she became a fulltime member of our pet entourage.
And why the name Houdini?
“I named her that because I was super into a movie about Houdini at the time,” Alex recalled years later. He referred to the 1953 classic, “Houdini,” starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
Shortly after joining the household, Houdini served as cover feline for the family’s 2005 holiday card. Her captivating green eyes peeked from an adorable face of fur and whiskers, the perfect image to accompany our seasons’ greetings sent to friends and family.
Ferociously independent, Houdini embodied a classic feline aloofness toward humans. Petting and engaging were on her terms only; but if she felt like climbing on your belly and kneading the covers while you relaxed on the couch, you were expected to comply.
And we did.
Houdini despised riding in the car and would wail and screech on every trip. So as not to leave her unattended, we would take her to the family ranch on weekends. The two-hour drive was a nightmare for all.
But upon arrival, Houdini would bound from her cage and climb trees, chase birds and mice, and lounge on the porch. Like the rest of us, she never wanted to leave the Llano River property and would often hide under the house or climb a tree to avoid the dreaded car trip home.
When we moved downtown to Arsenal, Houdini enjoyed splitting her time between the two households that comprised our family compound. She would make her way across the yard from our house to that of family matriarch Oma, the 88-year-old Hilde Maeckle.
Oma adored Houdini’s company, and would crack open the canned cat food, invite her in for treats and pets, and the two would keep each other company on Oma’s couch.
Houdini enjoyed a dose (or three) of catnip on occasion. She preferred her catnip fresh, still in the ground if possible. Typically, she would sniff out the herb in the yard, roll around in its leaves and become visibly intoxicated, rolling and lounging in a catnip stupor, enjoying her own feline happy hour on Oma’s porch.
We figured Houdini was part Russian Blue, a breed of cat famous for its thick grey fur and green eyes. Houdini’s hefty coat always appeared well-groomed and tidy and she never scratched herself or had fleas. Only once did she suffer a cat fight–when a feral cat from the alley entered our yard and attacked her from behind. The wound required stitches, but she healed well.
In her later years, Houdini stopped eating and meowed alot. She spent most of her time sleeping. She enjoyed the pollinator garden between her two homes and in true character laid down to die there under an Esperanza bush on September 11, 2020.
She now rests alongside her buddy Cocoa under a large pecan tree that front’s Oma’s porch.
Rest in peace, sweet Houdini. We miss you and love you and will never forget you.