Wednesday, September 21, 2011

 

Super Cat

Petie was home from school and decided that we needed a cat so she and Sharon went down to the SPCA to look at the kittens. The favorite was, of course, a little female calico. They asked me to go before they made the final adoption. I was never that fond of cats, but agreed. We all went down to the SPCA and we were allowed to be in a room with the three kittens they had left from a litter. The female calico, a male grey tabby with a white chest and white paws, and a male yellow tabby. Don't really know why, but I told them that they really should get two so the transition would be a easier. The calico was, of course, the main player and I chose the grey tabby over the yellow tabby. The two cats would always stay at our house.

The decision was made so the SPCA neutered the two before releasing them for adoption. That is their policy. Sharon brought the two little balls of fluff home in a box with air holes. We didn't know they already had names so I got to choose the names. I wanted to call the calico "Buttons" and the gray tabby "Beau"...you know, Buttons and Beau. Buttons name got changed to Missy over the years. They made the transition remarkable well. Kittens are really a joy to watch. Chasing a ball and falling all over their self to try to get a grasp. They get such joy from a scarp piece of paper on the floor. The SPCA sent along some antibiotics in case they got kennel cough from the neutering surgery, which of course both came down with. Both kittens were OK after a couple of days.

Sharon and I were laying in the bed, probably watching a ball game, maybe a week or two later. Kittens exert so much energy playing and then crash to sleep. Both little guys were playing hard. Buttons would lay in ambush at the foot of the bed waiting for Beau to come looking for her. I couldn't see them, but could tell they both launched a mock attack and would see both popped above the bed. When both had exhausted their reserve of energy, Beau jumped up on the bed. I didn't know what he was staring at, but it appeared to be my shoulders. He walked over to where he was looking and curled up in the crook of my arm next to my chest and went to sleep. That was it. The little guy completely stole my heart. He chose me and he would be my cat. I had several pet names for "Beau", "Little Guy", "Beauby". "Beau Kitty"and "Mr Bo-Jangles", but mostly just "Beau".

Beau recognized his name when I said it. I think that is unusual for a cat to know their name, but Beau did. I know that to be true because I could be talking and he paid no attention but when I said Beau he looked at me. Beau would sleep in my bed and if I was watching TV he would lay between my knees and ankles putting his head in the crook of the back of my knees with his paws on the other leg. He would put pressure with his paws on my right leg, forcing his heard deeper under my leg and I would pet his bunny soft fur. That would never change over the fourteen years we had together.

The plan was to keep both cats as house cats only. That would have been fine with Buttons, now called Missy, but not Beau. He saw there was a whole world outside and he wanted to explore it. He insisted. So I let them out into our enclosed atrium. One gate had enough room for them to slip under so I stuffed some carpet under it to keep them in the atrium. However, there is a large crape Myrtle growing over the roof in the atrium. Beaus discovered by climbing it, he could get on the roof. Missy took a lot longer to do this. She got really mad at Beau for going up there and swatted as well as scolded him when he came down. She was taking on a role as his mother rather than his sister. She was probably a little jealous that she was, as of then, unable to climb the Crape Myrtle, a skill she too would soon learn. When they were on the roof, I would go out and call Beau. He would stick his little head over the side of the roof looking at me, but not come down. He was observing what was going on in the outside world. Beau quickly found out there was another tree close to the roof on the outside of the house. Beau was loose and Missy would soon follow. I removed the carpet so they could go in and out as they pleased. The atrium because their sanctuary.

Beaus was still young, but it wasn't long before he marked and claimed the territory of our yard, the yards on either side of us as well as the two yards across the street. That was his to control as a male and would later fight to defend it. Hard to believe that skinny little male, never weighing over 15 pounds, was actually a silent, fierce warrior. He controlled his territory until the end and won most battles. Beau was small, but very quick and very fast. He developed a tactic that served him well and allowed him to inflict damage on his larger, more powerful challengers. Beau would never make a sound when he was getting ready for a cat fight or while in combat. He had a move that dazzled his opponents. He could jump straight up, very high. He used this tactic after initial contact and would come down on his opponents back, dig in all four sets of claws on the opponents back and bit them around the neck. I saw him use this tactic twice, and before I could get there to break it up, his opponent had already taken flight. The other cats would growl and cry trying to intimidate Beau, but he would never made a sound. When Beau was an aging pride male of 13, a very large, dirty white Tom from a couple of blocks away was testing the perimeter of Beau's marked territory. Beau would watch the Tom test his boundary from our front yard, watching his every move. Beau didn't move or make a sound. The next morning, there was white fur all over our front yard. I pick up Beau and checked out his white chest very carefully looking for wounds, claw cuts or punctures. Didn't see a thing. I guess that Old Guy won another one. I have never saw that big, dirty white Tom again.

Early this spring, Beau was really feeling bad. He still wanted to go out but just slept in the bushes in the front yard. I was setting in the swing with Beau sleeping in the bushes. My next door neighbor was walking his dog on a leash and he stopped with the dog to talk to me for a minute. He had a large, boxer mix dog. I told him to hold tight on to leash because Beau was in the bushes about 10 yard behind me, and was sick. In a couple of minutes, I heard this loud, deep throat growl from behind me.
Beau never made a sound before or during his cat fights. The neighbor said we, meaning he and his dog, needed to get out of there. I looked around and the noise was coming from Beau. I had never heard that sound in fourteen years. Beau had come out of the bushes and was slowly but steadily walking straight at that dog. He was not bluffing and was not going to stop. The growl was not meant to intimidate but rather to show his intention. I am going to tear you a new one if you don't get out of my yard. He was totally fearless. When they quickly walked away, Beau ran to the edge of our lot and watched until the dog was two house away before returning to his sleeping spot in the bushes. That big dog could have snapped Beau in half. The Little Guy was the ultimate warrior. I don't know whether he wanted that dog out of his front yard or he was protecting me. I had never seen him do this when other dogs came through our front yard. I occasionally walk down a couple of houses to talk to some neighbors. I would be walking, and you know that sense you have that someone is behind you. I would stop and look back and there would be Ol' Beau slow trailing me. I guess he was hiding in the bushes and wanted to know where I was going.

I always went out late before I went to bed to call Beau to see if he wanted in for the night. Some nights he would and some he wanted to stay out. Many times after I called his name, I would see his little white paws and chest in the distance as he came running at full speed to me. It was night and his mostly gray coat would make it almost impossible to see him without the white markings. Even though Beau was a fighter, he never once put out his claws when I picked him up, put him in the pet taxi or took him out of the cage at the vet's office. He never bit me. He hated going to the vet. It traumatized him and he would be mad at me for a couple of days. Even the last day when I picked him up to put him in the cage and took him out in the execution chamber, he would not put out his claws or claw me.

Like I said, Beau had not been feeling well for about six months. He still went out at night and often during the day, but he mostly just slept. A neighbor looked after the cats when we went on vacation in July. He had looked after the cats other times when we would be gone for more than 3 days, but we had never been gone for more than a week. When we came home the other times, Beau would scold me for about 5 minutes when we came in. This time was different. He just looked at me and then went over to eat the tuna that had been left for him that morning. I couldn't believe how bad he looked. I don't think he ate the entire 3 weeks we were gone. I picked him up to pet him and he was nothing but bones. He now wanted to eat every 2 to 3 hours. I feed him about 6 times a day. He would wake me up at night wanting food. I was hoping he would add some weight by eating so much, but he didn't. He no longer wanted to go outside.

I took Beau to the vet dreading what he was going to tell me. I was told Beau had a growth on his thyroid, a heart murmur and and had serious renal problems. The vet said he though that Beau probably had very high blood pressure forcing blood through his kidneys and that was the only thing helping him make urine. Beau only weighed a little over 5 pounds despite being fed 6 times a day for a month.I packed up the little guy to take him home dreading what I was going to have to do.

The last six months when Beau was sick, he still jumped in my chair while I was watching TV. However, he did not stretch and look totally relaxed as he had the rest of his life. He would just lay there for a little while before jumping down and crouching on the rug. He would jump in bed with me, but again jumped out after a short time. The last night I had my little buddy, Beau lay between my knees and ankles completely relaxed, just like he used to when I was watching TV. He jumped into bed with me and lay by my side all night. I put my arm around what was left of his tiny body. Taking Beau down to be put to sleep is one of the hardest thing I have ever done. I wanted to take him home so bad but knew I couldn't. Beau is gone now and I miss that little guy so much. I hope that time will ease the tears and waves of sadness, but it is not happening very fast. I still look out in the atrium when I pass, looking for my kitty's face knowing it will not ever be there again. His sister has also not stopped looking for her life long companion. She too still misses him. I also feel a lot of guilt. Beau completely trusted me and I killed him. The only difference between me and Judas is thirty pieces of silver. I wanted so desperately to carry Beau back home. I had made a appointment days earlier and had canceled. Did I do the right thing? That haunts me.

I really miss you little guy. I play this in endless loops sometimes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAkhyks0uRs

Comments:
Lovely post. I'm so sorry you had to lose your friend. Don't beat yourself up. I'm sure Beau wouldn't be.
 
Pete. Very well written and moving story. It was time for the kitty to leave. The only alternative would have been further suffering. You did a very good thing in adopting the kittens and also in letting your super cat go. I lost my best friend kitty Tabby after 18 years. He died where he most wanted to be. Sleeping peacefully next to me. Here is the eulogy I wrote for him.

Of all of the vast number of cats who have enriched my life by
sharing my home with me, Tabatha Andres was by far the most
intelligent, most loving and most dignified of them all. Tabby
remained most dignified during his final illness, in decline and even
after his death. It is only fitting that he should now rest in a most dignified plot in a spot where he can see the house, the forest and most of all the people he loved best. May he forever rest in peace. He shall never be forgotten.

It does get better. Try to focus on all of the good years and good times in your memories.

Your best old friend David
 
Pete, I always enjoy reading your blogs. I'm really sorry about Ole Beau, I know that was hard on you. You definitely did the right thing.
 
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