A year ago today, I had to put my cat Poco to sleep. She was just two months short of her 21st birthday. She would have NEVER thundered. Po was more like lightning – silent, stealthy, deadly. She would contemplate her actions for a long time, then act quickly. Also like lightning, Poco is the reason for thunder. Her death is why I have both Oliver and Obi. So today, we dedicate this post – which shouldn’t end up being a total bummer – to her.
- “Stopping to smell the orchids just isn’t the same…”
– Oliver –
Poco had asthma her entire life. Slowly, over the years, her medication changed and the dosages got stronger. We really didn’t think she’d live to be 15 with the inevitable damage to her kidneys. When we lived in Idaho for university we had to deal with pollen and burning fields to clear them and many, many emergency visits to the vet. In Cheyenne it was better, but I still had her doctor on speed dial (have I mentioned how much I love the folks at Cheyenne Pet Clinic?).
When she was 14, I was dealing with the impending loss of my sweet little girl. She looked fine but, really, how much longer would she last? Then I met Oliver. Oli and his siblings were picked up by some well-meaning walkers behind a retirement facility on the north side of town. There’s a rampant feral cat population out there. The kittens were about four hours old and two of them – Oliver and Hope – were very ill. Their respiratory infection nearly killed them.
Enter me, a couple of days later. I was there to interview one of the staffers about the facility and her job there. I ended up holding this teeny tiny little grey thing. She mentioned he would probably have respiratory problems his whole life. They needed to place him with someone with experience. She looked pointedly at me. She raised an eyebrow. Seriously, look at his face and tell me YOU wouldn’t have taken him and his future problems on:
He'll grow into the claw.
Oliver went to work with me at the chamber of commerce for about a month, causing a bunch of trouble with my boss and winning the hearts of most the business community. Cats learn a lot of things from their mothers. As Oli’s mom I taught him to eat, drink, bathe and play. Which explains a lot. Poor kid.
It turns out that Oli has no respiratory problems, other than a little inverted sneeze once in a while. And an interesting side note…Poco never had another emergency visit to the vet after he arrive. Not one in six and a half years. She might not have like him, but he was good for her.
– Obi –
When Poco was gone, I honestly had no intention of getting another cat. Then it happened. Oliver lost his mind. He started talking nonstop. He tried to sit on my feet…while I was walking. You couldn’t sit without him appearing in your lap. He wanted to be held CONSTANTLY. This isn’t such a big problem with a small cat. But Oli is 14 pounds. And long enough to hang from his front fingers in your belt loops. I realized he needed another cat before one of us got hurt.
My aunt has had great luck with multiple male cats. Contrary to what I’ve always thought, they become buddies instead of fighting for territory. I decided THIS is what Oli needed. And since he’s really just a BIG, and kind of middle-aged, kitten I decided to get a juvenile. Once the decision was made I couldn’t wait for Saturday to go to the shelter.
They opened at noon and I was there at 11:55 a.m. Evidently not getting the memo about my enthusiasm, ALL of the cats were still asleep. I wandered from cage to cage. And wandered. And wandered. There were a lot of older adult cats and orange tabbies from a hoarding rescue…it was heartbreaking to see them.
As I made lap fifty down the aisle, there was movement in a lower cage. A big bundle of fluff developed eyes. He blinked at me. Then he rolled over so his belly was against the glass. Already with the belly rubs! We touched paws for a couple of minutes and the decision was almost made.
In the “get acquainted” room, Obi walked out of the carrier, sniffed the caretaker’s shoes, rubbed up against my leg, and went for the toys. His file disclosed that he had been adopted once and returned for being mean and destructive. The shelter vet had described him as timid. I have only one explanation for this: Obi got to that other house and couldn’t find the brother he’d been promised. He did what he had to do to get back to the shelter so I could find him. Plus, his first owner named him Tiger and deserves every bite she got.
By the time The Boy, with whom I wasn’t living at the time, arrived the decision was made.
"Whoa. BIG brother."
Oliver was NOT happy about the new cat. Obi didn’t care. He was respectful, but tirelessly assertive. His attention was completely devoted to winning over the grey hissy thing.
Part of the adjustment was teaching Oliver to play. Poco had been told in no uncertain terms that she would NOT kill him when I brought him home. She took little interest in him. So Oli didn’t really know what to do. He’d bat at Obi and look confused. A “this feels like it should be fun, but I just hissed so maybe it’s not fun” look took up residence on his face. But Obi taught him. Oliver still hisses, but he loves it.
Obi also taught Oli how to play with the kazillion toys I’ve bought over the last decade. Those are the good moments. When Obi does something with a bobbly-thinga-majiggy and the light comes on for Oliver. “Oh! That’s what that’s for!”
So, that’s how my little lightning girl brought about my thunder boys. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Oh, and because he’s horribly neglected…here’s a picture of Zensai when he was a baby. This picture is about a month after I got him and he’d already doubled in size. He was irresistably cute as a baby as well.
"Lizard in size, dragon in attitude."