Ode To Contessa

 

SDC10926

Contessa – my little one – my Missy – my Lady Cat – my gravatar partner – the one who happily, excitedly, ran to greet me each day as I left the bedroom – has died, and I cried like a baby!

It was not unexpected, but it was no less painful. A retired breeder, she was with us just over 5 years.  She was 16 years old, but many Bengals live to be 20.  She was supposed to be the wife’s cat, but she adopted me and kept me in line just like she did the dog.

A couple of years ago, she developed some sneezing, coughing and wheezing. It was feline asthma.  The vet warned that, when we lost her, it would probably be to breathing problems.  Month by month, the coughing grew more common.

About a month ago, she caught a head cold. Nose was stuffed up and runny.  From February last year, to her vet appointment this year, she dropped from 8 pounds, to seven.  Whether because she felt poorly, or just couldn’t smell her soft food, she stopped eating.  By the time we got her to the vet again, she was down to 5 pounds.

SDC10169

He gave us some antibiotic, and some high-calorie food. We got the medicine in, but not the food.  When Bengals stop eating, it’s almost impossible to break the cycle.  They will starve themselves.  She spent a week in the computer room, taking the occasional sip of water.  She finally came out and collapsed on the carpet in front of the bathroom door.  The end seemed inevitable.

As I sat in the living-room, reading, I suddenly realized that she’d dragged herself downstairs and was on the floor at my feet. I like to think that she wanted to be near me at the end.  Minute by minute, her breaths became shallower.  I hoped that she would quietly, painlessly drift off.

I had called the daughter and asked what to do with her when she passed. Daughter said that, as soon as I was sure she was gone, to seal her in a plastic bag and put her in the freezer, until a decision could be made – burial with a marker in the back flower garden, or cremated, and her ashes returned?

I’d had a long, hard day with the wife in the hospital for a knee replacement. I left a plastic bag and a note for the son.  I tried to go to bed at my usual 5:00 A.M., but I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t leave the problem to the unsuspecting son.  Besides, if she wanted to be with me, the least I could do is be there for her at the end.

I put clothes back on and went and sat beside her, occasionally stroking her. I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t think.  I alternated between the chair, and pacing the floor, cursing Fate and the Universe, and crying.  It seemed each breath was a little shallower than the last.  At one point she raised her head to look at me.  I want to believe that she was making sure that I was still with her and was comforted.  Then she sank back down and I thought that had been her last breath.  A couple of minutes later, she shook her ears and moved her head.

Around 6:00 AM, she seemed to spasm. Her front legs didn’t work, but she used her hindquarters to scoot a couple of feet across the floor.  I was afraid that she was in distress.  I rushed upstairs to the computer.  Our vet is 15 miles away, and doesn’t open till eight, but there’s an animal hospital a mile down the road which opens at 7:30.  I could take her there as soon as the son gets home with the car, to have them end any pain.

Around 6:20, she rear-leg drove herself over into a corner, behind a scratching post. Cats want to die alone, with dignity.  She managed to flip herself over onto her chest and tummy.  She lowered her face, her mouth and nose into the carpet, and….

I lay beside her, gently touching and stroking her, and crying my eyes out. When the son got home, we bagged and froze her.  Next week, when the wife can walk, we’ll take her to our vet’s.  The price for a job-lot cremation is $25.  A single-animal cremation, with her ashes returned is $200.  The son says he’ll split the cost.  We’ve done it for the others.  Honor says that we shall do it for her.

I don’t know how such a small, little lady managed to occupy such a large part of our hearts and lives. She was definitely part of our weird family.  Like any human relative or friend, she will be sorely missed, and never forgotten.  I/we thank you, my regal little Countess.  Be at peace!

SDC11016

***

I composed this post later in the morning that it happened, to help myself deal with her passing. Thank you for reading my very personal tale of loss.  I’ll be back soon with something a bit more up-beat.   🙂

Advertisements

AutoPrompt – A Day In The Life

clock

Oh, you are in for such a treat!  First, let me finish where many of you begin.

My half(assed)-sister and I were always the night-owls of the family. Often forced during my working life to accept shift-times imposed by employers, since I retired, I find that my ‘normal’ schedule keeps me up until about 5:00 AM.  I’ve had comments from BrainRants on new posts, before I turn in.  He’s getting up today, when I’m going to bed yesterday.

I skip the morning TV shows and get up around noon/1:00 PM. Being retired doesn’t mean having nothing to do.  Normal aging of the wife, myself, and daughter LadyRyl has amassed an impressive list of doctors – GPs, specialists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, and Podiatrists that I get to drive to.

The first half-hour of each day is spent feeding and watering – the dog, four cats, plus juice and pills for the wife and me – then on to cleaning out the litter box. The excitement hangs heavy in the air.

It’s probably a good thing that I spent the second half of my work-life in a physical-labor job. Since I retired I have gained some weight, but I’m still in shape – pear-shaped.  At least my legs get a good workout each day.  I don’t need one of those stair-masters.  I probably do 30 to 40 flights of stairs a day – up, and down.

I sit in the living room, reading the day’s paper. I faintly hear the wife call me from upstairs, where a head-cold has wrestled her to the bed.  I climb the stairs, because she can’t speak loud enough to be heard.  She wants a Keurig coffee.  I return to the kitchen.  There are no K-Cups of the requested flavor.  I go downstairs to the utility room, and bring some back up to the kitchen.  I take the brewed coffee upstairs up to the bedroom, and return to the living room.  1 cup of coffee = 3 flights of stairs.

After temporarily completing my catering and hand-servant duties, I usually get to sit by the front window and read today’s Waterloo Region Record and yesterday’s Toronto Sun.  I know, another weird-osity.

It started years ago when a co-worker friend used to give me his copy of the Sun at the end of a shift. When the shifts ended at 11 PM, or 7 AM, I read it ‘the next day.’  I only read the Sun for entertainment news, and the strange filler articles, like ‘Man Bites Meteorite.’  Along the way I take time out to do the two crosswords and word jumble.

I make ‘lunch’ between 2:00 and 3:00, sometimes for both of us, usually not the same thing, and often from leftovers in the fridge. Then it’s time to do the marketing.  Since the wife doesn’t often go out, we don’t go ‘grocery shopping.’

A local supermarket offers me a 50 cent or $1 discount on copies of the Sun, depending on the day of the week. I get home delivery of the local paper, but have to go out for the Sun anyway, so I add a few items each day as needed, to keep the cupboards stocked.

Late afternoon is devoted to the few chores I do – snow shoveling, lawn mowing, dish washing, preparing for evening meal. The computer room window faces west, and the sun-glare on the screen proscribes keyboard usage for a couple of hours.  This is when I might get some reading in….until one particular cat begins head-butting, and pawing – sometimes even pulling a flannel throw off the back of the couch – until I agree to cover us both and have a nap.

s6301035

Cultured people eat dinner. We have supper – any time between 8 PM and 10:00.  The son gets up at 9:00, we exchange some lies and brags, and he leaves for work just after ten.  Now the computer goes into overdrive.

I do my last, on-line crossword, read emails, compose posts, do research, visit websites/and comment, interrupted irregularly but frequently by both two-legged, and four-legged room-mates – coffee, cookies, cat treats, catnip, water, kibble, outside several times for the dog. I read some more while he’s out.  The cats are kept safe indoors, unless you read my Almost Catastrophe post.

I often play a bit of Solitaire and Mah-Jong for pattern recognition and decision making, to keep the brain sharper than a marble. With four cats, we have two litter pans.  The wife cleans one, and I clean the other, twice a day.  I get the one in the basement.

Suddenly it’s 5:00 AM again. I haven’t accomplished anything, and it’s time for another exciting day to draw to a close.  I’ll see you again tomorrow.  Don’t call too early.  😉

The Cats Who Own us – Part 5

SDC11108

TONKA

Pictures of cats equals increased stats, so it’s time to tell you about our fifth and final cat.  All of our cats are ‘rescues’ of one sort or another.  This one is no different.  We changed the names of a couple of our cats, but not this one, although, like all the others, we’ve added a few.

He came to us named Tonka, and it suited him so well that it stuck.  It means ‘large, great, or powerful’, and is where the Tonka Toy Company gets its name.  We think that there is a cat breeder in the area who is trying to crossbreed to get Bengals, and throwing away the failures.  We have seen another female who is a twin in appearance, although not quite as chunky.

SDC10274

This one’s sire might have been a concrete building block.  He has great coloration, but is big and hefty.  If our cat Micah is the feline equivalent of the dancer, Fred Astaire, Tonka is our Arnold Schwartzen-whozitz.  Like a muscle-builder, he has no neck and short vocal cords, so he has the tiniest, squeaky little meow.  Someone adopted him, but for reasons unknown, gave him up.

The Humane Society has cages placed outside, so that people can at least leave unwanted animals there, instead of just abandoning them.  The staff came in one morning, and he was the catch of the day.  They have struck a deal with several of the local pet-food stores to feed, water and care for cats, display them and try to get them re-adopted.  It works!

SDC10193

The daughter had gone to a nearby outlet to get food for her pets, and seen him.  When she called to arrange to be taken shopping, she gushed about how great a cat he was.  Like the damned fool I am, I let the son drive her and the wife one Saturday morning.  Instead of dropping her at her home when they were done, and returning the wife here, they all ended up at the pet food store.

The next thing I knew, the son was home with instructions that I bring a cat crate and return to the store.  We were already a couple of cats over our quota, and if I bring along a cat crate, I’ve already admitted defeat.  I went to pick up the wife (And only the wife), without the crate.

SDC10061

Isn’t he wonderful?
(No comment)
Look at him!  He’s so strong and handsome.
(Less than no comment.  Brad Pitt is strong and handsome, but I don’t want to take him home either.)
Where’s the cat crate?
I didn’t bring it.
We can’t take him home without a crate.
(Now you’re catching on.)

And the clerk says, “No problem.  We have temporary, cardboard, cat crates that just fold out.
(Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!)

He’s the biggest of the bunch, and at the bottom end of the pecking order.  Even our little female, Contessa, half his size, can run him up the stairs, or up onto the tall feeding box.  Then again, she’s raised several litters of kittens, and has learned not to take shit from any of them.

SDC10070

He’s a placid cat, and almost as much a loner as I am, often found (accidently) on the powder-room mat, or the basement landing.  He willingly accepts being picked up, which none of the other three do.  He’s used to being picked up by right-handed people, and will often try to scramble over to the left shoulder, if picked up ‘wrong’.

SDC10217

While he doesn’t have much to do with the other three cats, with his humans he’s very loving, and sometimes very demanding.  When the son sits to read, he crosses his one leg.  Tonka will jump up and settle into the hollow at his knee.  When I read, he often jumps up.  I will lean back, let him plant his butt on my ample belly, and lie against my shoulder.

SDC10294

Once there, he nuzzles my ear, and purrs into it, and I purr back.  He rubs his face on my books and eyeglasses, marking them with his scent to identify them and me as ‘his.’  He also licks my mouth and moustache.  I think I’m being groomed, although he may just be checking what I had for lunch.

Matthew & Tonka

We didn’t need a fourth cat – any more than we needed the third – or even the second, but, sucker that I am, I can’t imagine life without him.  We do what little we can, to make life a bit better for as many animals and humans as we can.    😀

SDC10039

#472

Check My Bitchy Office

 

You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.  Please remember to wipe your feet – on the way out.

HEEllis recently treated us to some photos of her pristine, well-organized office.  If she weren’t a great little writer, (double accent on little) and the second nicest person in the world, right behind me, I might think that a neat, clean office is a sign of a diseased mind.  (Could still be right.) 😯

I recently stepped into my office to begin a post, this one as it turns out, and looked at my private pigsty.  The wife has given up on it.  I am only visited by wild animals.  It started life as a small, third bedroom, and has devolved into the recent cover photo of Mess & Clutter Magazine.  Work in there??  I don’t know how I even think in there!

This is a craft table, which can’t be accessed, because it is topped with two thrones of the Alien Overlords who rule me.  Oh look, one of them has beamed in.

SDC10764

 

 

 

 

 

Many of my ideas do not work out, and much note paper is thrown out.  I really need the cute garbage pail the son produced at his plastic parts plant.

SDC10766

 

 

 

 

 

A paperless society, indeed.

SDC10767

 

 

 

 

 

This is where neurons flux, and ideas flow – when I get back with a sandwich.  You may have noticed, I file by the sedimentation system.  Oldest papers on the bottom.

SDC10768

 

 

 

 

 

When I can’t convince a cat to vacate my Captain’s Chair, I sit in the Navigator’s Chair.  It affords an alternate viewpoint, which I have to share with dirty laundry.

SDC10769

 

 

 

 

 

Just a little business humor – which sadly has carried over to blog themes.

SDC10770

There’s a floor down there somewhere, shared by a sewing machine and hassock, and a crosscut shredder to guarantee destruction of any documents with names and addresses.  Hoodoo, voodoo, identity thieves.

SDC10771

 

 

 

 

 

The wife’s hand-tatted lace doily, made from bequeathed crochet cotton that her aunt bought, along with the antique pattern it was made to, in the 1940s.

SDC10772

One of Granma Ladybug’s ladybugs clinging to the wall, beside a shadowbox full of visual drivel.

SDC10774

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of her stuffed mascots, guarding wheat bags which are heated in the microwave, to ease arthritis pains.

SDC10775

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe not a typical man-cave, but I’ve taken it and made it mine a mess.  Perhaps you can now understand the strange and varied mix that gets spewed onto my blog-site.

One Lovely Blog

Apparently there is another infectious round of chain-letter awards circulating on the blogosphere.  Ted over at SightsandBytes  http://sightsnbytes.wordpress.com/ afflicted me with….graciously passed on to me, the One Lovely Blog Award.  I often see these awards being given to relatively new bloggers.  I got my first when I had produced only fourteen posts.  I’m up to fifty now – a seasoned old hand.  I can only hope that they are given to newbies who show a scintilla of talent, as an incentive to keep them writing and improving.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.  I humbly thank Ted for prodding the arthritic old bear to bang on the keyboard more creatively.

Having completed the onerous job of displaying basic good manners, my next task is to list seven pieces of information about myself, to instill a little interest, and prevent injuries when readers doze off and slump onto the keyboard.

  1.  I rode 7 motorcycles over 20 years, totalling two of them with little more than bruises.  The last one, I fell over sideways at 3 MPH.  The bike could easily have been repaired, but I got a bionic shoulder and a busted wallet.
  2. We have four beautiful Bengal cats, and a dumb wheaten/schnauzer/poodle dog.  The dog is at the bottom of the pecking order.  There are so many cat toys strewn over the floors that it looks like we’re babysitting a bunch of three-year olds.
  3. After years of rotating shifts, now that I’m retired, I sleep at 4AM and rise at noon.  I hate morning TV but can find late-night movies or go blogging.
  4. I used to be outdoorsy when I was younger, but allergies seem to be getting worse.  We installed central air conditioning and a high-efficiency furnace with an electronic precipitator filter and stay inside as much as possible.
  5. If you read my blog about scratch-cooking, you know that I’m at least a bit of a cook.  Like Ted, I’m not much of a recipe follower.  It’s hard to screw up chilli.  If the dish requires precision, like a cake where one extra drop of milk makes a difference, I let the wife show off her talents.
  6. I prefer to deal with problems broad-spectrum.  I get as much information as I can and make and change decisions as the situation demands, rather than be saddled with an inflexible manual.
  7. I hate making out lists, especially about myself, so I’m glad that this is the last item.

I haven’t set up a blogroll yet, although I now read quite a number of interesting, entertaining and informative blogs.  I also feel that these blog awards can get out of hand and try to stop them before Marvin the Martian says, “Where’s the Ka-boom?  There should have been an Earth-shattering Ka-boom!”  If I’ve commented on your site, be assured that I feel that you are interesting enough to deserve this award as much or more than I do.  If you’d like one, feel free to belly up to the all-you-can-write blog buffet and drop one on your Chinet plate, to display on your very own site.

This blogging thing just keeps getting better and better.  Thank-you to all the kind, friendly, inspiring bloggers who have shared their lives and experiences, and shown me the way.  I will continue to try to earn your respect, and pass it on to those who come behind us.