Lost Cat: Answers to the name ‘Mango’


‘Or “Salmon” or “Steve”. Or maybe just “Kitty.”‘

I’m kicking myself that I can’t find that poster. The Child made it herself, when she was, oh, ten or so. See, we had this most amazing cat at the time. His name was Mango. And he went missing.

He was an orangeish tigerish marmalade cat. So The Child named him Mango. She was very good at naming cats. She was responsible for the late lamented Tuna (whose runner-up names were ‘Grandpa’ and ‘Lipstick’), and our current cat-in-residence, Wombat. When I was a kid, I was terrible at naming cats. I would give them names like (barf) ‘Buttercup’. And then everyone, including me, would just call them ‘Kitty’. We had two littermates once called ‘Black Kitty’ and ‘White Kitty’. They were both brown; one was just darker than the other.

Alienation of Affection, feline style. The Dude captures the heart -- and fur -- of Kitty

The Dude captures the heart — and fur — of the kitty in residence when we met (the ‘Kitty’ whose real name was supposed to be ‘Flicka’)

When I was pregnant with The Child and considering names for her As-Yet-Unbornedness, my Oldest Younger Brother Scott would tease me and say ‘Why worry about names? You’ll just end up calling her “Baby”‘. (He wasn’t far off the mark, since I do in fact refer to her as The Child.) Speaking of names for The Child, remind me sometime to tell you about how The Dude wanted to name her after a Greek goddess. (‘Persephone’ was one of his suggestions.)

Anyway, back to Mango. And why The Child made the poster that I can’t find even though we cleaned a whole Toyota-load of old magazines and papers out of the attic this weekend.

Mango was a cat who just showed up at our house in Amagansett one day, purring and looking adorable. We fed him, and, sure enough, he started hanging out. We loved having Mango around, but we didn’t actually ‘own’ him. Oh, we tried to. I took him to the vet for shots and such, and slapped Frontline on him in tick season. But when I introduced him to the litter box, he looked at me like I had holes in my head. So, ‘outdoor cat’ he had to remain. But he’d come running when we’d call, and spend many happy hours chilling on the deck, or ensconced in the nearest lap.

The Dude, chilling with Mango

Mango and The Dude making like a couple of purring stuffed animals

Well, one day we called and called. And called some more. No Mango. I tried my best to reassure The Child, who was around seven at the time, that Mango was ‘just fine’ and would ‘turn up when he’s hungry’, but I was just as worried as she was. Probably more so.

So The Child made this poster that said ‘Lost Cat: answers to the name Mango’ — complete with a photo of said Mango and those little strips with a phone number that you can tear off — and plastered them around the neighborhood.

A couple of weeks passed by in Mango-less agony. Nobody responded, alas, to the posters. Maybe people thought they were too cute to deface by tearing off one of the little strips.

But one weekend, just about when I’d started to practice my ‘Mango is probably better off wherever he is now’ speech, I hear this ‘meow’ outside the bedroom, and there Mango is. He’d clambered up to the second-floor deck via the drainspout, and dammit, he wanted in.

This would be the first of many Mango Disappearances-and-Returns. Eventually, we got used to them. We figured, wild bachelor that he was, Mango just needed his ‘space’. Eventually, though, we discovered the horrible truth: that Mango, that rascal, actually had two other families.

I found out about one of his families, the Levinsons (who called him ‘Salmon’), during a visit to the vet. Turns out they took him to the same one. (Her name was Dr. Katz. Seriously.) And The Dude found out about the Michaels (who called him ‘Steve’) when he was walking on the beach path with Lorne one day, chatting, for some reason, about cats.

The Michaels loved ‘Steve’ so much that his photo adorned Lorne’s desk at SNL. (Yes, our neighbor is Lorne Michaels of SNL fame; another time, another story.)

Vanity Fair used to do these features on famous people's desks. Here's Lorne Michaels', from, I think 2007, featuring Steve's photo, among other things

Vanity Fair used to do these features on famous people’s desks. Here’s Lorne Michaels’ from, I think, 2007, featuring Steve’s photo, among other things

Interesting that the callout says ‘Steve’ was a ‘former Purina calendar model’. Hmmm. Anyway, when we found out about the Michaels’ connection (ages before the Levinsons’), we tried to honor their claim by referring to our joint-custody cat as ‘Stevie Mango’. Which actually had a nice sort of Rat-Pack Rhythm to it.

As for Mango/Steve/Salmon himself, he didn’t care what you called him, as long as you called him. But now, alas, he really is ‘lost’, passed on to the Great Catbox in the Sky. But we won’t forget him. Not by a long shot. And, speaking of shots, here’s one last one:

Mango/Stevie/Salmon pretending he's a parrot (if parrots purred)

Mango/Steve/Salmon pretending he’s a parrot (a purring parrot)

If you’re feline inclined, I’ve got a couple of other cat tales. One’s about a guy who makes a living with a cat on his head (‘The Cat is The Hat’) and another featuring the infamous Tuna (‘Tuna finds the Baby Jesus Sweet Spot’). Both are, of course, best enjoyed with a cat on your lap.

New York City. March 2016


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38 thoughts on “Lost Cat: Answers to the name ‘Mango’

  1. Oh cats are such tarts, aren’t they? Adorable creatures. I love the sound of Mango. I also love all the names your daughter chose for your various cats.

  2. I had to read that a few times to make sure I was understanding. Lorne Michaels of SNL was your neighbor? I’m sorry, it’s awesome about Mango but that deserves a holy $***! I’m a huge fan of SNL and have been since I was 12 so you can see why that part of the story resonates the most with me. I gotta say, Mango is truly an adorable name!

  3. Wow. The life that cat had. He had three different “mistresses” kept in three different homes. There’s a tv movie in there somewhere.

  4. josypheen

    I love your cat tails (hehe see what I did there!?)

    Mango sounds like the best type of cat. He approved of your family so chose you to be one of his human slaves.

    By the way, I agree. Your daughter is really good at catching names!!

    • Thank goodness I just finished my coffee or I might have snorted some all over my iPad! ‘Cat tails’ indeed! Thanks for your kind words (and your cat joke!) xoxo

  5. Mango sounds much like our Sid (short for Obsidian, so three guesses what color he is – LOL). While I don’t an anecdote that even remotely comes close to the coolness of Mango’s Lorne/Purina connection (holy cannoli, Batman!), Sid did score a spot on a local restaurant’s fundraiser calendar. He was their Featured Regular Customer for July 2003ish…

  6. Love your girl’s names for the cats! Our Feline furbaby is Sonu Sing, named by me as he is now officially a Punjabi cat! And Sonu is a term of endearment, meaning Precious, which he is!
    He’s a house cat so no chance of him disappearing!

  7. I love it that you named your cat Mango. That’s so cool! My cat wanders quite a bit as well. She loves the freedom of outdoors,but she always manages to make it back home. There were a few times she had us worried, though. 🙂

  8. I’m not a cat person- too many cat scratches and attacks- but I feel so terrible for cat owners when they go wandering! I would be so sad ? Also, I’m fully on board with her naming choices- I miiiiight have some fish that need names…

  9. We had two cats at one time, Peaches and Gurgi (Gurgi from The Black Cauldron). They were indoor cats for a long time. Then they became outdoor cats until they “disappeared” into the Great Catbox in the sky. Great story and proof that cats have staff, not owners.

  10. Reading about Mango reminds me so much of our cat named Fatso. He wanders a lot too and usually comes home a week or two after, all dirty and messy. Quite a troublemaker he is!
    Thank you for your story. Brought back happy childhoold memories. #weekendblogshare

    • Thank you for taking the time to tell me about your cat. I know I would love Fatso! Aren’t cats the best? Almost as nice as people who read my stories and take the time to comment. Come back any time!

  11. rightroyalmother

    Cats are canny. We had one like Mango called ‘Wander’ … because he did. He was a wonderful, special cat though and I think they are amazing pets to have. They teach you independence! Lovely post. #weekendblogshare

    • Why, thank you! I love that you also knew a lovely marmalade cat. ‘Wander’. You (unlike me) are very good at naming. And yes, cats are the most marvelous pets. Wombat is our one and only right now. Come back any time for more stories. xo

  12. What a rascal – two other families. I imagine he was getting a double dose of shots as well. A small price to pay for attention and food and the look of relief on their faces when he returned.

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