Cat Post

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It’s my blog, I don’t have to stay on topic. I can write about my cat if I want.

But it’s also a journal of sorts, so important things are going in here.

Pooka was the best cat I ever had, most cuddly cat most of my friends had ever met. Super outgoing. He played fetch, which baffled visitors who had never seen a cat promptly return and drop the toy they were chasing on their owner’s lap.IMAG0269

He was a Manx, with just a short tail, and even though he was born a barn cat, he took to the litter box the day we got him like it was the best thing in the world. We only ever had trouble with him if we changed the kind of litter we used. He wasn’t from the most reputable breeder perhaps, though, and he had some food allergies that would give him digestive issues if we fed him the wrong thing. But his personality made up for it.

When he was younger, before he gave up and got used to me leaving for work, he would try and stop me from leaving. He got to know the signs that I was going out, and chase me down the hallway towards the door, hooking his paw around my ankle, trying to hold me back.

He would be on my lap just all the time – I was so used to it, I wouldn’t even notice he was there. He met me at the door when I came home, and would come to snuggle in bed when I called him at night. As a kitten, he tried to sleep on my head. Toward the end, he would snuggle next to me with his head on my shoulder and one paw wrapped around my arm.

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In addition to playing fetch, he was known as the infamous water thief, and would drink out of any water glass left undefended. We tried to use a spraybottle for discipline, but discovered he liked it, and we have video of him drinking water as we sprayed it into his mouth.

He chased a laser pointer once. We had him running in a circle for at least a half an hour before he collapsed panting, mouth open, on the floor and couldn’t get up. He wasn’t a stupid cat. He would never chase a laser pointer again after that.

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He never jumped on the counter, didn’t dig in the garbage, didn’t unravel the toilet paper, was good about having his claws trimmed, and only liked scratching things I gave home to scratch. He had a thing for sisal cord scratching posts.

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And he had the sweetest meows. Trilling and chirping mostly, but then their was the longer play-with-me meow when he was in the mood. At some point in his life we started hearing a very strange meow that we only heard when he was in another room. At first we though something was wrong, it was kind of a yowling, insistent meow, but when we came to check on him he was fine, just fondling his catnip pillow. Finally we figured out what it was when he prowled into the room still doing it. It was just his play-with-me meow, only he was doing it while carrying his toy around in his mouth.

Almost eleven years old, he started losing weight over the course of a few months, and when he stopped eating altogether one day two months ago, we got him to the vet. Vet did some tests, and while he was negative for the nasty FIV and feline leukemia, there was no easy way to rule out cancer. We crossed our fingers and gave him the antibiotics and steroids the vet prescribed and hoped it turned out to be just an infection or autoimmune disease.

He bounced back through Christmas. Nathan calls it our little Christmas miracle that we got him back healthy and happy through the holidays. We made the most of it, feeding him whatever he wanted since the vet was hopeful but never made us any promises.

After the holidays were over, he crashed again. We made another vet appointment.

The night before, I managed to get him to eat some baked chicken. He didn’t really want to, but he kept looking back at me like he knew I wanted him to eat, and he was only doing it for me.

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Later I was petting him, and I felt his tummy. I could feel something. Lumps; masses. The vet confirmed it the next morning. Liver cancer. Nothing anyone could have done. On the vet’s recommendation, we had him put down.

It’s been a month, and at night in the dark, I’m still stepping cautiously around the spots he used to sleep so I don’t trip over him before I remember he’s gone. Every year, my mother-in-law buys our cats cat toys for christmas, and this year Nathan had forgot them in the bag brought home after family gatherings. We didn’t remember it until after, and now we have this little red stuffed dragonfly that was for him, and we never got to give it to him. And the other cat – Apollo cries at night, and wanders the apartment looking for his friend.

I never had any pet as long as I had him, and was never as close to one. My cats growing up, the first my mom sent away to a farm after a year, maybe, the second wandered off to live at the neighbors who were feeding her so that she was getting balloonishly fat, and the third I only had for a year or so before having to give him away. I never had to have one put down. The dog we had for a lot of years, but he belonged to my brother, my grandpa and my dad, so it was them that had that closeness with the dog.

None of them were animals that I shared the kind of relationship I had with Pooka. Pooka, I’m not even sure I know how to describe how in sync the two of us were. I think the best I can do is say, in the dark, at night, I could put my hand out and call him, and in a few moments, his head would be pressed under my hand.

The new kitten will have big paw prints to fill when it comes home.

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Fire, Man’s Eldest Ally, Man’s Worst Enemy

So, I got home from getting groceries and was putting them away when the building alarm went of for the hundredth time. My reaction – *sigh*, probably yet another false alarm or some dickhead pulling the alarm again, but you know, maybe I should go out and, you know, make sure, and make sure the caretaker is there and knows how to turn of the alarm and is on top of that…

So I get out to the hallway and there’s smoke billowing out from the edges of the door on apartment 21 down the hall.

I booked it back to my apartment to get my phone and call 911. My phone even gets this big “emergency call!” message on the screen when you’re talking to 911, it’s pretty cool. The transferred me to the fire dept, got the address, asked me if I was in danger myself, and said to evacuate the building – seeing as other people in the building are as jaded by that alarm as I am.

By the time I got off the phone with them, the hallway was full of smoke. I knocked on a bunch of doors and windows as I went up and down the fire escape, and helped Nathan chase our Siamese out from under the bed. Stuffed both cats in the cat carrier (cozy – they were not impressed) and took them out down the fire escape.

There were fire trucks there in about two minutes, I think – we’re very close to a fire station. Six trucks total, once they’d all arrived, and paramedics to check people. Everyone was fine though. Some people got their cats out, some were away and weren’t allowed back in to rescue them, but the fire fighters assured them that the cats would likely be fine, since the smoke was mostly in the one apartment. (Though the human tenants of apt 21 were away at work at the time, I did find out later that they had a cat who was asphyxiated – from the amount of smoke I saw, that one was probably gone by the time the alarm went off.)

The city arranged for a not-in-service bus for us to hide out in around the corner while it rained outside. Someone brought coffee, and we went and got subway – Laurie from upstairs was kind enough to shout me for a sub since I hadn’t eaten yet today, and was starving. We hung out in there for about four hours, chatting, while the cats complained, and someone came by every half hour or so to say it would be at least another hour before they knew when we’d be allowed back in to get our stuff, or know if we’d be allowed to stay in our apartment tonight.

Finally, they let us back in. The hallway smells like burned plastic, and there’s smoke damage on the walls, but our apartment is not damaged, and smells mostly okay. The Fire Marshall has declared the building habitable, aside from apartment 21 (not sure about the apartments below it that suffered water damage) and we’re allowed to stay the night.

So, we’re fine, the cats are fine, we still have a place to live. It was an electrical fire, which makes me wonder about the buzzing sound coming from our living room light switch. It was an exciting day, and I’m wondering if the sight of smoke filling the hallway is going to haunt my dreams for a while or if I’ll just be fine. Probably be fine. Last time I had a reaction like this was witnessing a car accident, and I was okay after that – I cope pretty good with emergency type stress, it’s long term stress I don’t do well with. I’m still a bit on edge, though even the sight of smoke filling the hallway of my apartment building didn’t trigger the level of adrenaline rush that I get due to social anxiety. Kind of funny – I cope with a building fire better than I do social conflict.