Jasper, the Forgotten Cat
2018-07-23 15:31:32.000 – Emily Tunkel, Summer Intern
If you’re reading this blog post, you probably know about Mount Washington’s resident mascot, Marty the cat. Maybe if you really follow us closely (or you’re a little older), you know of Nin, a fat white cat who retired from MWO in 2008. And you’ve probably seen photos of Inga sitting outside in a storm, covered in rime ice.
But what about Jasper?
Recently, the other interns and I were tasked with combing through some of the old MWO news bulletins, all the way back to 1962. As I was looking through these hundreds of booklets, I found something interesting in the the winter ’82, summer ’82, and summer ’83 editions – mentions of a fat little orange tabby named Jasper.
The first reference of Jasper comes in the summer of ’82, where an article was written about Inga’s obsession will maiming and presenting live mice to the observers while she was in heat. Jasper was brought in to “[take] care of Inga’s ‘problem’”. The observers were hoping that Jasper and Inga would begin to “know” each other – biblically.
Jasper, however, had other plans. In summer of ’83, the MWO news bulletin stated that “Inga’s been in heat twice since Jasper’s come of age; still no cigar. How do you figure it?”
Apparently, Jasper wasn’t as romantic with Inga as he could have been, and ended up just being a weird cat overall. He stood on his hind legs to beg for treats (and dog bones), refused to use a litter box, was taught to lie down and roll over, and ate everything from dead mice to asparagus. In the summer ’82 edition of the bulletin, Jasper is nicknamed “garbage guts” due to his ability to eat anything at all. Greg Gordon, an observer at the time, wrote an article about Jasper entitled “Our Cat, The Dog”. I’ve included this article at the end of my blog.
While Inga went hunting for mice and ate dozens of flying squirrels (head first, leaving only the tails), Jasper was “not nearly clever enough” to catch them himself, and ended up eating whatever Inga would give him. He hated children, but would let adults pick him up and carry him around – only upside-down, however, on his back. After Inga passed away in 1994, the observatory welcomed Nin, who Jasper was not fond of (mainly because Nin would steal his food). Jasper lived for fourteen years at the observatory, and passed away in 1999.
“Our Cat, The Dog” – Greg Gordon
Jasper (what we formally supposed to be a tomcat), never has hit it off very well with Inga. Initially, we figured it was simply a question of a territory violation, but increasingly, this hypothesis has become suspect: for one thing, Inga has never had any trouble getting along with Pushka – TV’s feline; not only have there been no territorial disputes between them, but we frequently have to drag Inga back over here – especially when she’s in heat (she is not in the least discouraged by Pushka’s sexual neutrality, a situation we hoped Jasper’s presence would remedy). But there are other grounds for suspicion: in many ways, Jasper doesn’t act like a cat at all: he lacks a cat’s agility and coordination – he honestly can’t get out of his own way. He loves to play in the water (something no self-respecting cat would have any part of), and we’ve had the darndest time getting him to use the catbox! Those of you who are cat owners have probably noticed that cats don’t usually shift their eyes when altering their focus of attention; more often than not, they turn their heads. Not Jaspy, and here’s another thing: Inga’s been in heat twice since Jasper’s come of age; still no cigar. How do you figure it?
And there’s more: when Jasper wants something to eat (which is most of the time), he stands up on his hind legs, and begs – just like a dog…Not only that, but he eats like a dog – just wolfs everything down without bothering to chew it first. He has been known to pant, and wag his tail; he even likes bones! And as if all that weren’t enough, he actually lies down and rolls over!
We inquired of John, who brought him up here, whether Jasper had had an unusual upbringing – possibly some traumatic experience early in life which would account for his strange behavior!
“Nope,” John assured us. “Perfectly normal.”
Maybe some of you down there in the real world can shed some light on this. Woof, woof?
Emily Tunkel, Summer Intern