A Beautiful Cat’s Tale

TiggerZoeyOnbed

Tigger (l) and the late Zoey (r)

I am a cat lover and every now again run across a jewel of a tale about cats. Recently I stumbled across a story in The Huffington Post that reaffirmed what I’ve felt all along. Cats are mystical beings bequeathed by the universe and once you’re aligned with the right cat or cats truly magical things are brought to bear. This I know firsthand because as I lay dying last year my cats were with me.

There I was on my bed and they jumped up to join me. After rubbing them a bit, Tigger, the big tabby sniffed at me and ran off. Zoey, my fat fluffy grrrl who loved me to her last breath, ran off too. It was the salve I’d stupidly put on my shoulder blade, thinking it would rid me of the monstrous abscess. The golf ball size thing had released toxins into my blood stream that was killing me. It had been killing me for several days.

Still I talked to Tigger and Zoey in my best Doc Holiday voice from the movie Tombstone. “Get on then you mangy cats,” I heard myself say. “Nothing but fair weather friends the both of ya,” I muttered and giggled or at least I think so. Had I not known better, I would’ve sworn the rum cake I’d consumed earlier had made me tipsy.

Of course all of it was a dream. My room door was shut that morning. The cats as they normally do were probably meowing and scratching to get in. My son, who’d found me clinging to life, had knocked on that closed door. I woke up from a four-day coma and was in the hospital two weeks. If I’d not carried on with the cats in my dream, I’m convinced I would not be here today.

So when I ran across the story about Toldo, the cat, it sent delicious chills down my spine. After I wiped away the tears, I commented on the article and this is what I said:

“I foolishly thought I’d rescued my cats until I later found out they were the ones who’d rescued me. Cats have very addictive personalities and don’t go into anything lightly. Toldo will continue to honor the grave of his acolyte until he can no longer do so or until he decides to quit on his own. Cats are beautiful mystical beings and should be treated accordingly.”

Anyone who loves cats and has had a near death experience may find the story especially endearing. It touched my heart and in case you’ve not read it, I’ve included it here for your entertainment pleasure.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/loyal-italian-cat-todo-br_n_2406479.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Advertisements

Tigger And Zander, Examples Of How Smart Animals Really Are

Being my #1 fan is either boring or really hard work.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my friend and number one fan,  Tigger. I’m only doing so now because Tigger and a dog name Zander recently reminded me why I love cats and cannot stand, absolutely cannot stand to see any animal mistreated. Call me crazy but I am totally convinced animals have feelings much like humans. They experience hurt, sadness, happiness, loneliness, anxiety, anger, you name it. Some, like Tigger, even have an addictive personality. They become hooked on a certain food or certain routines. Some, gasp, are even cunning like Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Well perhaps not that cunning. Anyway, suffice it to say, animals are not dumb unfeeling beings, which the following two examples clearly show.

Here’s the tale in storytelling mode so as not to bore you…

The sun was just beginning to rise. As usual Tigger squeezed out soon as the door cracked opened. Instead of racing off to the kitchen way Zoey used to he stood on his hind legs to let me stroke his head. He then nudged my naked toes with his cold, damp nose, making me start my day with a good chuckle. His freedom came a little later than usual but he’s downright diplomatic about it. In the living room he pawed at his mat, then went for my toes again while I stood riveted in front of the television.

Zander and BFF, John Dolan

The weekend edition of Good Morning America (GMA) was on. The guests were Zander, a seven-year-old Samoyed-Husky mix and his owner John Dolan. The teaser was that Dolan was admitted to the hospital and a heartsick Zander trekked two miles to be by his side. The hosts know what suckers we are for a good animal story so keep us hanging for a while.

As I prepared Tigger’s breakfast, he didn’t meow even once. Looking down at the blissful cat I asked, “Who are you and where the hell is Tigger?” In answer, he dug his head hard against the edge of the wood surrounding the dishwasher, lawnmower purrs filling the kitchen.  After he’d eaten I let him drink from the bathroom faucet then let him out the front door.

With an ear out for Zander’s tale, I did a few chores then returned to the idiot box. “Release me,” I moaned really drawing it out. I don’t know how long I stood there before a noise, an outside distraction, got my attention. A persistent scratching I quickly recognized.  “Tigger, you know better,” I chastised, rushing to let him in before he could do damage. The cat shot past me as though the hound from hell was on his heels.

It wasn’t Cerberus but could’ve spelled equally bad news for the wayward tabby had his frantic clawing on the screen not gotten my attention. The neighbor’s dog, an Eddie on the show Frazier look-alike, charged right up to the opened patio door, teeth bared barking and growling.

Cigarette protruding from her hand like an extra appendage, my neighbor called to her charge and trotted across the back lawn. I ignored her as I scooped Tigger  into my arms. Tail bushed out three times its normal size, he allowed me to hold him. After several seconds he nipped at me to regain his alpha maleness then made his  way down the hall. “I just saved your life Mister Man,” I yelled after his retreating back. “You are so very welcome.”

Tragedy averted I returned to the tease show. Zander and his owner are on set. John is telling the hosts how Zander slipped away from home to find him. To be by his friend’s side, the loyal Husky took on some pretty dangerous terrain to get to a hospital he had never before been. The two mile trek, probably entailed crossing a nature reserve, stream, and even a busy four-lane highway. While Dolan talked the blue-eyed white husky sat there grinning tail wagging. It’s obvious the two love each other. Zander just went the extra miles to prove it.

Tigger and Zander are examples of how intelligent animals really are. I am sure some of you have stories just as interesting. Care to share?

Update On Tigger One Lone Lonely Cat

Tigger and the late Zoey

I know I haven’t mentioned my cats, well cat, in a while. The wound of Zoey’s gone too soon departure is still a bit raw. Thinking about that cat, her sweet gentleness, makes me sad. Even the vet, moments before administering Zoey’s ‘Big Sleep’, opined how the good ones die young and meanies live on and on. She had spent the better part of the day with Tigger who wasn’t happy about being at her cat clinic.

A couple of days before Zoey’s  appointment Tigger got sick, throwing up and behaving like he too had one foot in the grave. The day of ‘The Big Sleep’ he was more tore up than Zoey who moved around surprisingly well for a cat down to fur and bones. While a dying Zoey purred and rubbed against my legs Tigger’s ailing prompted us to call their owner.

She arrived anxious to get her favorite to the vet. The tabby didn’t go willingly, putting up a surprisingly big fuss. The two had a nearly decade-long history together and he always rushed to greet her when she entered the house. Each visit she scooped him into her arms and hugged him until he bit her and she dropped him to the floor. Still I didn’t doubt their love for each other.

That day Tigger, the alpha male, let it be known he didn’t want to leave us. US, as in Zeke and I. Knowing that bossy, don’t touch me until I tell you to rascal, didn’t want to leave us was sobering to say the least. So while Tigger got whisked off to the vet, Zoey and I spent our last hours together. Later when we gathered in the small examining room, the vet assured us she would feel no pain. Zoey was scared but composed as the small woman lovingly stroked her and said what a sweet cat she was.

Then she mentioned Tigger. He hadn’t been nice to her staff or the other cats. Even after being given treats, he showed them no love. She diagnosed him with being a drama queen. Which led to her diatribe about the good sweet ones dying too young while mean sourpusses stick around forever. I thought it was strange for a cat doctor to actually say out loud but Tigger being Tigger isn’t for the faint of heart.

Zoey’s been gone for over two months now and Tigger is still Tigger but noticeably changed too. He doesn’t spend much time outside anymore. Which I don’t mind especially after having watched that video about the secret lives of cats. Who knew house cats turned into superheroes once outside, ridding the world of unwanted critters. I suspect like a war-weary soldier, he wants to kick back for a while. Also, he won’t admit it but I know he misses Zoey.

The lone lonely Tigger

For now he makes do with me. As loyal acolyte my job is to: search for his favorite food; brush and stroke all except for the undercarriage unless I’m ready for a good clawing; push open the cracked bathroom door for him and turn the water on to a drizzle while he jumps on the closed lid of the commode; wait for him to dive on the vanity then wait as he nuzzles his head against the spout before proceeding to stroke him from head to arched tail when he finally begins to lap the water.

He makes a little ‘umph’ noise when he jumps to the floor then dashes off and dives on my bed. Multitasking, I type, surf the net, use cell, go through mail, prick finger, test blood, inject with insulin, and whatever else, all while stroking and playing with him until finally he traipses off to my pillows and goes to sleep. Sometime I wish Tigger was a dog or a houseplant until it hits me they wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling.

Goodbye Zoey

Tigger(left), the late Zoey(right)

Zoey’s gone.

She left this life with grace. She started her day giving as usual, rubbing against my legs and purring. She didn’t eat anything and went outside with her piglet tail high. After nibbling the grass she returned indoors and rubbed against my legs, and stared at me purring as I worked on the computer. Later she joined me on the chair as I took a breather. Literally starving to death but she’s going on as usual. Tigger on the other hand ain’t doing too hot. We got the bad news about Zoey Monday. Tuesday morning Tigger jumped off my bed and threw up. He threw up again and again. He didn’t eat the next day. Just laid around looking miserable. In the meantime Zoey was her usual peppy self.

D-day, Zoey’s date with the great sleep, Tigger won’t eat. Except for a small bit of ham and grass Zoey too is running on empty. She’s still alert and zipping around. Tigger on the other hand is scaring the hell out of me. We called their owner. She showed  up around 10:30. Tigger didn’t want to go into the carrier. He escaped and made his way to the water bowl on the floor. “See,” he seemed to say as he dipped his head toward the water, “I’m a-okay.” The ploy didn’t work and off he went. Of course Zoey had zoomed to her room. Once the coast cleared she made her way back out to me. I’d told Zoey’s owner how lively Zoey was. Selfishly I suggested that maybe the appointment could be postponed. There would be no reprieve. So, Tigger was taken away making all the ruckus in the world. Several hours later Zoey entered the door of the same vet clinic. Only one would exit alive.

We gathered in the small room with Zoey. While we stroked Zoey, who hadn’t meowed once, all the talk was of Tigger and how badly he’d behaved. The same vet who’d deemed Zoey fine two weeks ago told the owner Tigger was just being a drama queen. I mentioned his eyes didn’t look good. Then she said he showed elevated cells indicating he had a slight infection. As we watched, she squeezed poor Zoey’s belly while explaining why we needed to proceed. The mass was there, along with a fluid buildup. She would only get worse.

I’m normally not a violent person but I wanted to grab that little vet by her throat and squeeze. Why didn’t she feel the mass before? My face got hot as the crematory that would soon consume Zoey’s body. We’re all lucky it didn’t go kaboom and incinerate everyone in there. Blood sugar high I leaned against the wall accidentally turning on the fan switch. The stifling space filled with sound. The vet quickly turned it off. Then she whisked off with Zoey. She returned a few minutes later. Zoey’s suffering was over.

First thing she said was that Zoey had been extremely dehydrated which meant it probably took more than one try with the needle. After talking me out of being there with Zoey, saying it would be quick and painless, by her own admission it had been no such thing. Just as I envisioned my hands reaching for her throat she vanished. She returned with Tigger in a carrier. He was fussing loudly, probably calling us every name in the book. His owner let him out. The vet said he’d behaved badly.

He came straight to me and for the first time stopped meowing. I stroked his cheeks and teased him about being a baby cat. I had to leave so left him with Zeke and his owner. I called Zeke later and he brought me up to speed. Tigger was still in a foul mood but had eaten a little. Zoey’s owner called. She wanted to know if I wanted a paw print and to keep the urn. Zeke had videotaped Zoey earlier and I would forever keep her safe and sound in my heart but sure what the heck.

Goodbye Zoey girl. It was an honor and a pleasure having you in my life. Hoping you much happiness on your new journey.

Zoey Is Leaving

A grass blade for Zoey

Well folks, it’s time to say good-bye to Zoey. For those of you who don’t know, she’s a cat I’ve been fostering for going on three years. I won’t post any pictures of her in her present state. The vet gave my son and Zoey’s owner the news around 4:00. She has an inoperable mass. Like her daughter before her, the late Cloey, it has spread throughout her vital organs. I guess that explains her inability to keep food down. Not even grass at this point. For the last several days, I’ve been feeding her the little she eats out of my palm. Sara Lee honey ham I pulled into small pieces. Anyway, we will be saying goodbye to Zoey on Thursday, if she makes it that long.

She ran straight down to my room when she got home from the vet.  Yesterday she kept pawing at me and today she looked at me as though saying, ‘save me.’ I wish dammit I could cause she saved me long time ago. All the time I spent trying to keep her from hiding in the hole she made in the mattress. I guess if I’d kept my distance I wouldn’t have such mixed emotion now. But it was well worth it to have her trust. I’m the only one she doesn’t run from. To me that’s an honor.

I asked my son why they didn’t just get it over with. He thought I wanted to spend some more time with her. She purred and rubbed against my legs while he gave me the news. I reached down to rub her. She’s all fur and bones and quite frankly I don’t think she likes being rubbed right now. In typical Zoey fashion, she’s the giver of affection. She would groom that old Tigger for hours if he didn’t turn violent. Wonder what Mr. Big & Bad gonna do once there’s no Zoey to attack?

Anyway, we will all be there with her. I’m a little nervous because it’ll be my first time holding vigil with death. I’d let my first cat die alone. I was a teenager and nowhere as strong as I am now, partially thanks to the small gray cat. Last night I was thinking maybe she won’t make it until Thursday. Maybe she’ll go peacefully in her sleep. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve wondered if Zoey would come out the room in the morning. Even when she’d started to limp for no reason she’d still emerged. Ironically, back then the vet told us maybe she’d injured her leg because she was overweight. If only she had that signature appetite of hers now.

This morning she came out soon as my door opened. I let her outside. I imagine her having a bucket list. Going outside daily has a check mark now. She made her way around the yard nibbling on grass. After about an hour I let her back in. Bones wrapped in fur. Not only is she still walking around, but she still claws her way on top my bed, she still jumps on top the sofa. I tried to palm feed her more ham but she turned away. I gave her a spoon full of chicken pate and put some of the appetite stimulant they got from the vet with it. To my delight she lapped up the gravy and medicine.

I had errands to run. When I was done, I went on to the park and took the trails. I hadn’t walked in five days. God I missed it. The medicine apparently did the trick. Zoey ate. Vomit was in the hallway and her room. She threw up again today several times. Still she walked around, clawed her way on top my bed, and jumped on the chair to cuddle with me. Not only is she impossibly still alive but she’s not lethargic. Even Zoey must have a breaking point. Even if she can go on I can’t. It’s a greater kindness to say goodbye.

A grass blade for Zoey

Trying to palm-feed Zoey

Everything happens for a reason

Love them and keep them safe

Everything happens for a reason. All my life I’ve heard people say it. I’ve said it myself many times. For the last two+ years I’ve really been saying it. The reason why is right outside my patio window. Half of what was once a trio. Tigger, the big male tabby, is posed out there looking toward the barn. Zoey, the female, the one I rarely let outside, is under the barn and won’t come out. Hence why I rarely let her out. I only let her out this morning because she stopped eating again. Last week when I thought she was at death’s door I let her out to nibble. Fellow cybernytes  suggested grass eating is a cat’s delight. I wouldn’t know. I’ve only had two cats my whole life and they were pretty independent.

So, Zoey is under the barn and again I’m asking myself how in the world did I end up with these cats? When I first told people about the three cats I was sitting, the common refrain was, “oh no, not you, Mary.” Yes, it was true. Mary had not one, but three cats. Tigger, Zoey, and the late Cloey. We lost Cloey the first week. She was sick and her owner, technically they’re still not my cats, had her put to sleep. Cloey was Zoey’s only living offspring even though she wasn’t very motherly. Tigger, not Cloey’s daddy by the way, took on the role. While Zoey hid under the bed, Cloey spent  the last night of her life kicking Tigger in the head and frolicking on the floor in catnip.

When I got the call to help out, those majestic creatures were being housed in a garage . They were facing eviction. My girlfriend, the same one who talked me into walking, sold me on keeping them. It would only be for a month, she said. Its now going on three years. The owner, a truly lovely person, still isn’t back on her feet. But she loves these cats. When she visits she picks Tigger up and hugs him and kisses him as though he was a child. Last Friday at the vet I was told she kissed Zoey’s forehead and loved on her and even cleaned the gunk from Zoey’s eyes with her bare fingers. Still, the distrustful cat takes off running and hides beneath the bed when ever she shows up.

Who can blame the poor old girl. She’s seen the dark side of human nature and it appears never got over it. You see, Zoey was thrown out of a moving vehicle. God only knows the abuse she suffered before that. This happened  a long ten years ago. Zoey’s memory is even longer. To get her out of the dark places where she hid away wasn’t easy. I spent hours with my room door open, lying very quiet and still on my bed to get her to join me. By the time she clawed her way up on the bed my mind and muscles were screaming out for relief. This went on for weeks. Once she started to trust me I continued to let her know she was safe with me.

Tigger is back inside. It’s not even 7:00. The broom is leaning against the wall. Walking across a wet lawn in the gray of dawn feels surreal. I thrust the broom beneath the raised barn, expecting to see Zoey zip across the green. Nothing. Back inside I keep looking over the laptop on the kitchen table. Even Tigger is pissed. Zoey is infringing on his me time. I’m on him to get his butt out there to see to her. Right now he’s lying on his side, head slightly raised, giving me that you must be kidding look. “You are worthless as a penny with a hole in it, man.” My words fall on deaf ears as he eases his head back to the floor.

“Zoey!” I yell not caring if I awakened everyone in the vicinity. The couple next door dog pooped on my lawn the other day. If I woke them up, well, imagine me clapping like a loon. Where in the heck was that darn cat? I wasn’t even planning to write about cats today. It’s like they’re in my soul and I can’t not write about them. Every time I think I have Zoey socialized she pulls a stunt. “Zoey,” I yell. She appears miraculously. The cat’s been inside the entire time. Somehow I’d blinked and not seen her streak back into the house.

As I press her against me thinking, ‘I will personally hand pick her grass next time,’ I notice how light and fragile she is. The vet said she’s okay but she’s turning into fur and bones right before my eyes. She’s due for a follow-up in a couple of weeks. Personally I don’t know what to do except keep loving her and try to keep her safe. I am mere acolyte to both her and Tigger. Apparently here to tell their story in the hope it will make animal lovers of us all. Everything happens for a reason.

Please love a pet today. Too many animals are being abused, abandoned, and killed. Just like with bullying, if you see an animal in trouble, step up and do the right thing.

Please Pray for Zoey

PLEASE PRAY FOR ZOEY.

A plump Zoey sunning herself

Not accustomed to lots of hands-on, I completely flipped the switch the moment a traumatized Zoey entered my life. I can truly say she has made me a better person. Such a small cat but the only way they could get her to me was in a critters’ cage. She had wedged herself in the nether region of a pool table to avoid capture. A robust eater, food was placed inside the trap and well, Zoey doesn’t turn down a meal unless she’s sick like now. Anyway, she zoomed straight under the sofa the second she was released. She stayed there for hours. The next day she joined the other two in what was once my office/guest room.

She’s next to me on the bed as I type this. Her empty belly just screeched loud enough to beat the band, as one of the local weather guys sometime says during a downpour. The only thing she has eaten in the last couple of days is grass, which she promptly threw up.

Last year round about this same time she started hobbling on three legs. Her owner came and took her to the vet. The vet told us she had bad teeth and was overweight but was otherwise healthy. I wondered how a cat that threw up every other day could possibly be healthy. But I kept mum because her owner was footing the vet bill. I was and am the acolyte charged with Zoey’s upkeep and a fellow named Tigger.

What was supposed to be a one month stay is now going into its third year. It’s been one heck of a roller coaster ride dealing with not only Zoey, but Tigger and the former Cloey (daughter to Zoey), as well. We lost Cloey right out the gate. An infection had spread throughout her reproductive organs and her owner had her euthanized. Fearing Zoey might suffer a similar faith, I sometime put off telling Zoey’s owner about her ailments. Usually she stays close to me when she’s sick, somehow still purring like a motor. If she’s in pain, she doesn’t show it.

My son, Zeke, says he doesn’t know how she’s still alive. He’s the one constantly cleaning up all the vomit. Admittedly, he does all the heavy lifting when it comes to cleaning up after the two. All I do is feed them occasionally and spoil them rotten. So, when Zoey is sick as she is now, I feel I’m the only one emotionally vested. I have only myself to blame.

Normally I’m a rather hands-off person. But with Zoey, I turned into Mother Theresa. The story was she’d been thrown out of a moving vehicle. God only knows what cruelties she’d suffered prior to that. Zoey was terrified of humans and rightly so. Tired of her hiding under the bed all day and running away from us all the time, I made it my mission to socialize her. Before the end of the first year my work was done.

Zeke, on the other hand, remained and still remains pretty aloof with the cats although he does allow Tigger to spend time in his room. If only I’d followed his example I wouldn’t have had and continue to have so many sleepless nights.

Zeke’s door just opened. Zoey looks at me with those sad kiwi eyes flecked with brown spots from her constantly throwing up. She threw up the grass I let her out to eat this morning. She’s an indoor cat but I let her out to graze on the grass hoping it might fix what’s ailing her. Yesterday after eating her fill she ran under the barn when I called her to come in. This morning she came right on back in and promptly threw up on the kitchen floor. Phlegm, grass, and a sour odor. I wiped it up with paper towels and followed up with a wet sponge.

Good thing she was fat. I said was because in just a matter of days Zoey’s just a former shell of herself. The furry flesh of her undercarriage still dangles as she rubs herself against my legs. Her purrs are comforting and is all that’s keeping me from crying. This little cat has been through hell and back again. If she’s in pain, she’s right on purring and bearing it. She is now nearly two hours behind the closed door in what was once my office/guest room. Zeke puts them in at night just like they’re children.

My head is filled with prayers for Zoey. I’m nearly two hours late with my insulin injection. I dial up the appropriate dose. The fine fine needle sinks into the flesh of my belly. I thumb down the device as though it’s a fountain pen, thinking about Zoey as it clicks backward to zero. Thinking about Zoey keeps me from focusing on myself. I know what it’s like to go to sleep only to wake up days later.

Zoey has an appointment with the vet on Monday. In the meanwhile I keep her in my prayers. If you stumble across this blog, please pray for Zoey. I will return later with an update.

Zoey after three days of not eating