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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Goodbye to Velcro, a Cat

Until about two years ago, we had eight cats: two calicoes, three short-hair blacks, and three long-hair grays. All lived outdoors on about two of our 20 acres of woods. The mother and the grandmother of all the others was one of the calicoes, Truepenny, whom I got when she was a kitten.

Truepenny was of exemplary character and she passed that on to all her progeny. Once, when I took the whole bunch at one time to the vet for their rabies shots, he congratulated me -- or really them -- on their total lack of resistance to being handled and injected, though one didn't care at all for making the trip and he kept saying so.

Sometimes it was hard to tell them apart within their color groups, but their behavior always told the tale. Some were standoffish while others were incredibly affectionate, as cats go. All dated from the period 1990-92, and here, where there are no cat hazards outside of your normal wild and domestic fauna passing through, they all grew old.

The first of them to go was the first of them, period, Truepenny, two years ago. Either a dog or a raccoon got her, in the dead of night. I heard a single bark and some scuffling and when I went outside to investigate I found Truepenny lying still, with a big puncture in her chest. That hurt me to my heart, though I knew it was just the beginning.

The next to leave this life was Baddie, the largest of them, a toe-nibbling longhairgray whose personality was the complete opposite of his name. Three roaming black labs appeared out of nowhere, caught him napping on a deck, chased him down to the ground, caught him before he could get to a tree, and proceeded to try to tear him apart, all in a matter of seconds -- a truly terrible and enraging sight, destroying any remaining chance that we would ever become dog lovers. We got to Baddie a moment too late.

Now, yesterday, we had a third loss. I had to have the remaining calico, Velcro, "put to sleep."She had suddenly become totally inactive and wasn't eating. She seemed bloated, and her body was emitting a weird constant noise like a sort of clicking purr. The vet asked if I had noticed how prominent her bones had become, and he diagnosed her as having acute kidney failure, for which nothing could be done.

I hadn't expected this and I suppose I looked visibly distraught. As much as I loved Baddie and especially Truepenny, ending their lives was never my decision, but in the case of Velcro it was, though it was the only thing I could do. After it was done, given the choice between having them dispose of her remains and bringing her back home, I didn't hesitate. They gave her to me wrapped in what looked like a brightly colored pillowcase, and I reverently buried her still in that garb, near Baddie and Truepenny in our "fern field, " a glade in the woods across the creek and some distance from the house.

Velcro was about 13. She got her name when, as a kitten, a neighborhood kid noticed how her tiny claws hooked into clothing much like that fastening material. All our cats had at least one major distinctive characteristic, and hers was that she seldom wandered farther than 20 feet from the front deck, maybe because of a youthful encounter that I will get to in a moment. She was also the heaviest water drinker,, and she was the main one who would sit in the window in the mornings, silently urging us to get a move on with the cat cans.

She was one of the more standoffish cats, but that changed in her later years, though only toward my wife. I did something to Velcro early in her life for which she never forgave me. I gave her a bath -- an experience I never repeated with her or any of the others. But I felt I had to do it because she was so heavily soiled. She had been away from home for a couple of days, during which, having just come of age, she had been badly used by unknown male cats. But after that I could never understand how clean she always looked, with hardly any grooming that I could notice.

I'm going to miss Velcro. She was a genuine lady of mystery. Like all cats, she knew lots of stuff that not even the brightest of us will ever know. She just never saw any reason to pass it on


Blogger andante said...

Tried to comment yesterday, but Blogger was doing some strange stuff.

I know this hurts; it's not much consolation, but you've done the right thing.

I always hope someone will have that kind of mercy on me, should I ever need it.

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Blogger Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Thanks much, Andante.

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