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Remembering Mr. Kitty

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So last night was a hard night. We do have one thing to be thankful for though and that is the services of Dr. Shannon West-Wilke. Dr. West-Wilke is akin to a saint in my book. She has a mobile veterinary clinc, yes, she does house calls. So yesterday after playing phone tag a couple of times, Dr. WW said she could come by between 8 and 9PM. We made the arrangements.

I came home yesterday and checked on Mr. Kitty, hoping that he had improved even slightly. He hadn’t. I fed the dogs and the other two cats knowing Teri would want to feed Kitty one last time. I did some busy work in the back yard and after Teri got home, I mowed the front and rear lawn. Neither of us spoke much about what was coming. But I made Teri a couple of lemon drops just the same. At about 7:30, we shut off the TV. I went upstairs and got the red blanket that Kitty has been sleeping on for the past few nights right by my side. I scooped him up and went back to my chair and just sat there with my cat. I got to say all the things I wanted to and he just purred the whole time. It was hard just sitting there with him knowing what was coming. But it was good and it was right too.

I realized last night that in the whole 10 – 11 years that I’ve “owned” my cat, that’s all he ever really wanted. Just someone to sit there with him and pet him. Never really asking for anything else, just some occasional attention. And that’s the great thing about pets. They give so much and ask for so little. And they don’t even really realize they’re giving YOU anything. And I guess for the most part, we don’t realize it either. It’s just a perfect symbiotic relationship. Two beings existing together, each getting and giving just what they need, but so much more all at the same time.

When I met Mr. Kitty in the pet shop off 38th Street in Tacoma, he was on loan from the humane society. He was in his little cage and Teri and I were in there for something else. What it was I couldn’t quite remember. But my roommate, Brandon, had suggested to me a couple weeks before “Maybe we should get a kitten?”. I don’t think Mr. Kitty is quite what he had in mind. Kitty passed the wheelie test. (One of my requirements for cats is that when you put your hand above them, they sit up on their haunches and reach for you. It’s a mark of intelligence really.) That was enough for me, I made the arrangements and he came home with me. (Oddly enough, Turkish, one of our other cats was found at the Chevy’s on 38th as well, weird that two cats came from the same street) When I went down to the humane society to register him, they asked what his name was. I wasn’t really fond of the name “Mr. Kitty” so I changed it to Bowser. Brandon and I tried everything to get him to recognize “Bowser” as his name, but in the end, “Mr. Kitty” it was. Fortunately Teri and I were dating by then, so I never had to explain to any potential dates “This is my cat, Mr. Kitty”.

Mr. Kitty was for all intents and purposes an indoor cat. But, occasionally he’d sneak out and earn himself a trip to the vet. The odd thing about him was that when he was fighting, he NEVER used his claws. I could screw with that cat all day long and NEVER worry about losing an ounce of blood. (Don’t even ask me about Nicholas, our OTHER cat) He ended up getting in a tussle or two with “Devo”, Mike’s Whippit Mix (Get it? Whippit? Devo? Never mind) and off to the vet we’d go to repair some puncture or another. (The thing with Whippits is they’re lightning fast and in some cases can leap a 7 foot tall fence in a single bound) Eventually though, Devo and Mr. Kitty would become the best of friends. Mr. Kitty would lay by the back sliding glass door in the sun and Devo would saunter over, open the door for Mr. Kitty, let him out so he could go INSIDE and lay down. See? Symbiotic relationships abound. One tussle with a neighbor’s cat landed him with FIV, the feline equivalent of HIV. For the most part he lived with that disease for many years without complications. Occasionally, his eye would weep and that was his “Kitty AIDS” acting up, we’d get him a shot and he’d be back to normal.

When Teri and I merged our families, Nicholas and Princess (the dog) came to live with us. Nicholas wasted no time in establishing the pecking order. Nick, Princess and Mr. Kitty. They all settled in quite nicely with each other. Then Teri and I were out to dinner at Chevy’s one night and I made the mistake of saying “There’s a cat by the car”. I knew as soon as I said it, we would now be a three cat family. Turkish came home with us and now the three cats and one dog fought for the order again. Nick won out, followed by Princess and Mr. Kitty held his own to put Turkish on the bottom even without using claws to fight (much). One of Kitty’s quirks is that in the middle of the night he’d start to howl. It’d be 2AM and you’d awaken to this awful howling cat. The first few tims it would happen, I’d jump up and see who was attacking my cat. But it was just Kitty being Kitty. He just wanted to know someone was there. So then it bacame yelling out “KITTY!” and he’d shut up.

After we moved into the new home, Teri started letting the cats out in the back yard and they became indoor/outodoor cats. I’ll tell you one thing, there aren’t too many “other” cats that venture into our yard anymore. With the band of brothers on patrol, the place was pretty locked down. After Princess passed on (Thank you again Dr. West-Wilke), the pecking order remained . . . for awhile. Then Taylor came along and somewhat usurped Kitty’s spot. I’ll say they at least SHARED the role of keeping Turkish on the bottom. You’d be surprised though how dogs and cats can get along. They all would chase each other around the house and have a grand ol’ time. It’s better than TV for entertainment, I’ll say that! Recently our menagerie grew to include Dixie, the 6 year old Yellow Lab. So lately we’ve been a 3 cat and 2 dog family. The humans are definitely out numbered! But it’s a good family.

Shortly after the first of the year, Kitty had an ingrown claw. I took him to the vet to have it taken care of. The vet pulled the claw out and I’m not sure who ended up more bloody in that battle, Kitty or the vet, but the vet DEFINITELY had some self-repairing to do after that. “Hmmm, I guess he DOES know how to use his claws after all” I thought on the way home that day. After a couple weeks, the paw wasn’t getting a whole lot better and started to get worse. With his FIV, he just couldn’t fight off the infection. Teri put him through two rounds of anti-biotics (she’s nominated for saint-hood too. If anyone has ever tried to give a cat a pill, you know what I mean) and he’d get better for awhile and then not. The last couple of weeks have been tough. Watching my little buddy waste away, not eating, not drinking, but always there for the pets and purring. I was selfish, I know that now. I should have helped him along a lot sooner. But I’m thankful for the time we had and I know that wherever he is now, he’s in a much better place and in no pain. Probably doing lots of wheelies for my grandparents. 🙂 Mr. Kitty was one of a kind. Certainly a good friend and companion to me for better than a decade. I just hope I gave him as good as I got. Stay warm Mr. Kitty, we miss you buddy. See you again someday eh?

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AUTHOR - John Hurlbut

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