Note from Snoskred – This week Thomas – Technical Blogger is getting out of his niche, and reading this I am so glad he agreed to do it. I love this post.
I was in my mid thirties before I had a cat.
In 1999 or so I took a contracting job at Microsoft, and my girlfriend at the time and I moved to this cool log cabin in Redmond, WA. My girlfriend had this ornery black cat that I didn’t really like, but for the most part he left me alone, and I left him alone. A couple of days after we moved in, there was this little kitty out on the deck mewing very loudly. It was there for a couple of days mewing. Did I mention this cat was really loud? Finally I told the girlfriend to do something to shut that cat up. She fed it some food that it gobbled right down and became quiet and started purring.
This cat had no desire to come into the house. Whatever room we were in, it would hang out in the corresponding window, so it could see us, but did not want to come in. In October the weather was starting to get rainy and nasty, so we built a little shelter with warm bedding for the kitty in the planter box outside the big window. We feed her and all seemed to be well.
In November it started to snow, and we decided that we needed to bring the little cat indoors. She adjusted to the indoors really well. She was neurotic and a pain in the butt, she hid under furniture 90% of the time. All I could think is how much cats sucked.
We moved, and I said that since we had taken responsibility for the little kitty that we had to take her with us. She did really well in the new place. She was neurotic and a pain in the butt, but she did change, now she hid under furniture 95% of the time. All I could think is how much cats sucked. At this point the girlfriend became an ex-girlfriend. I told her that she had to take both cats, but she would only take hers initially as she was moving back to the Bay Area and left me with that damned little cat.
Two days after the ex-girlfriend and her cat had gone, I started seeing the little kitty out and about. I used to say she was a little bit of a cat, and the name stuck. Little Bit. It just being the cat and I, Little mellowed out within a week.
One day I was working in my office at home, and I heard Little meowing from another part of the house so I told her where I was. I then heard meowing closer. This happened a couple of times, and then I heard a meow outside my office. I looked at her and told her she could come in, and she did. She settled down by me and seemed to be happy. She seemed to like to play this game, as she played it frequently. I played along because it made me laugh.
Moving to the Bay Area
I got contract work in the Bay Area, so we moved. Initially We stayed in corporate housing and I wasn’t supposed to have a cat. I told the Little to stay out of sight, and she seemed to understand. At this point you might say – Thomas you are deluding yourself if you think your cat had the power of speech, I don’t think she had the power of speech, but she seemed very intuitive and appeared to understand what I told her. She would sometimes wait in the window for me to come home, and when she saw I noticed her, I would waggle my finger at her and she would jump down and hide. She was a great cat. Having just moved from Seattle to the Bay Area, I had few friends and although I was happy the girlfriend was gone, I was depressed about my general state of relationships.
Little started sleeping on my chest. I would sometimes wake with her cheek on mine. If I came home late, she would wait by the door, and would let me have it, with a barrage of meows. If I came home after being in a bar, I would have to shower before I got into bed or she would snore and wheeze all night keeping me up and expressing her displeasure. I took care of her and she took care of me.
We moved out of corporate housing and got a loft in East Side Oakland. It was the Little and I, and we had a great time. If I sat down for more than 5 minutes she was in my lap. When it was time for bed, she would get up, go to the bedroom and meow on the bed waiting. When I got in bed, she would crawl on my chest and fall asleep. She was trusting, sweet, and gave love unconditionally. She watched over me, and when things got tough, was always there for me.
Little was an excellent barometer at reading people. I never mentioned to dates that I had a cat. Some women would come in, and the Little was not to be seen, for others she would come out and say hi. It may sound weird, but I always listened to the Little. Interestingly enough, when the ex did show up from time to time the Little was never to be found. Considering Little always met me at the door when I came home, I found it interesting that she would disappear if I brought someone else home.
The Little had an electronic litter box. One afternoon, the box was going off, every 15 minutes for a couple of hours. I thought it was broken. When I investigated, I realized Little was playing with her litter box. She would go in and let out about a marble’s worth of urine and then jump out. She would walk around and when the box would start she would run over and watch it. A couple minutes after it stopped, she would jump in to start the process again. She would take frequent trips to her water dish to ensure she was probably hydrated and had enough ammunitions to continue the game. This was a game she would play periodically. Goofy little cat.
I raised my voice to the Little once. She was playing with the sheer curtains in my rented loft. I just looked at Little and said No sharply. She disappeared and I did not see her for the rest of the evening. I looked for her and she was not to be found. At bedtime, I got in bed and called, and there she was. I have no idea where she went, but I never had to raise my voice to her again.
I traveled periodically for my job and my buddy Tim would stay at my place to hang out with the Little. Little loved Tim, and Tim loved the Little. In early 2000, I took a work oriented trip to Cairo, Egypt for a little over two weeks. Tim was unable to stay at my place the whole time but stayed there off and on to ensure the Little was doing ok.
When I got back, Little and I fell back into our normal routine. Not long after that I met my wife Shannon in Portland, OR. When the Little met Shannon in August, it was love at first sight.
In October of that year, the Little started to get sick. I noticed her walking around wheezing. When I took her to the vet, they removed almost two pints of fluid from her body cavity. Apparently her body cavity was filling up with fluid, squeezing her lungs and she was having difficulty breathing. I had her tested, but we could not figure out what was wrong, she was not getting better, and she wouldn’t eat.
When Shannon came to visit, the Little crawled on Shannon’s lap, and gave her a long hard look. I could see the Little sizing Shannon up. The Little put her paw out, and Shannon took it in her hand. The hung out like that for a couple of minutes, and then Little curled up in Shannon’s lap and went to sleep.
That next week, I could tell the Little was getting worse. One evening I had to take her to the emergency vet to get her drained again. A few nights later, Little crawled off a couple of times to find a secluded spot. I told her I found this unacceptable, as her friend I would help her and wouldn’t let her die alone. That was a really long night, hanging out with my sick friend. I took her to the vet first thing that morning and was told she was rapidly getting worse. The vet said she was just going to keep filling up with fluid and there was nothing they could do. Apparently if she hadn’t received good nutrition when she was younger she might not have formed properly internally. Considering that we found her outside, this seemed reasonable. Under these conditions it is possible for stress to initiate the onset of these types of problems.
The vet suggested the best course of action was to put her to sleep. They explained the procedure and how it would work. I shouldn’t be alarmed if the cat should evacuate its bowels after it had passed. All I could think is that Little is way too dainty and too much of a princess to let something like that occur.
I called Shannon for support, this was one of the hardest decision I ever had to make. I knew Little was in pain, but I didn’t want to give up too early. What if the tests taken the week before found something, but results weren’t expected for another couple of days. I tried to be realistic about the current quality of her life.
I talked to the Little about it, I knew she was in pain and she was wheezing again. She sat in my lap for a while, and then got in her carrier for a minute. I put her on the table and petted her while she was put to sleep. The vet said something about being amazed that Little did not make a mess when she passed, but knowing her that did not surprise me.
The next couple of weeks were kind of a blur. But here are some things I realized later.
– A couple of days later, I noticed that her carrier smelled. I looked in and found she had used her carrier as a litter box. I have heard that a cat will not mess in a carrier that they expect to get back in, I think she understood what was going to happen and wasn’t going to go out leaving a mess.
– When I thought about it, I realized that Little had passed the baton on to Shannon for my care and well being. She wasn’t going to leave without knowing I was taking care of, Little was like that.
– The Little and I only had a couple of years together, and I hope she was happy enough to balance out such a short life and time we had together.
– To this day I think my being gone for the couple of weeks while I was in Egypt stressed Little out, and initiated these problems. I am not sure that there was anything I could have done differently to create a different outcome, but I do blame myself . . .
It would be a couple of years before I could get another cat. It has been almost seven years, and honestyly I tears roll down my checks as I write this, although in my defense my allergies have been acting up as my eyes have been kind of watery.
Enter Mr Pants
As I said, it was a couple of years before I could bring myself to get another cat. Shannon and I started visiting the humane society. I figured it would honor the memory of Little to give another cat a break. At the humane society I told them I wanted to see the cat that had been their the longest. We were shown some cat named Diego. When we got to the cage, the cat charged the bars of his cage and starts meowing loudly.
A sophisticated cat, said the tag, wow he smells and looks horrible said Shannon, I want to see him, says I.
We went into the visiting room with Diego. He was flea bitten, he smelled, he was mangy and weighed 10 lbs. His head was the biggest part of his body. I talked to Shannon and we decided to think it over. Diego was taken back to his cage. When we went back to look at him in his cage he hissed at us. He had thought we had a deal, and it appears we had reneged.
We went back two days later to get Diego. When we go to his cage, he is laying listlessly on the floor, he picks his head up and blows a big snot bubble out his nose. Dude, that is no way to get adopted I tell him, you need to try and put your best foot forward.
Shannon calls a tech over.
Shannon – Excuse me . .
Tech – Can I help you
Shannon – Is this cat going to die, it looks sick. We like him, but we aren’t going to adopt him if he is just going die.
Tech – Uh, ma’am we can’t guarantee the pet will live, but . . .
Shannon – I’m serious, we don’t want this cat if it is going to die.
Tech – Well we can’t guarantee, he just has URI which is common for cats in a situation like this. If anything does happen to the cat, we can get you a new . . .
Shannon – I’m serious, we don’t want this cat if it is going to die. My husband is a big guy, but he is sensitive. He already lost one cat, and I am not going through that again any time soon, this cat better not die.
Me – Hey, I’m not that sensitive.
Shannon – Yes he is, I’m not going through that again any time soon.
Tech – Ma’am the cat should be fine, but I can’t guarantee. I see no indication of ill health.
Shannon – better not die . . .
So we took him. Diego was neither sophisticated or worldly so that name got dropped. Apparently he was found as a stray just a couple of blocks from where we lived.
Side Note: I don’t swear. Shannon has worked in the bar industry most of her life, and knows how to swear real well. When were first dating, she and I were bickering about something. She looks at me and says, you’re a . . ., you’re a. . . ., Mr Pants. To this day I have no idea what that meant, but I knew if we had a pet what its name would be, and Mr Pants it was.
We have had Mr Pants for over 5 years now. He has been a great cat. He is a 22 lb Maine Coon. He is sometimes referred to as Little Brudder, or Chubba Brudder. He doesn’t care as long as you don’t call him late for his food.
When we first brought him home, he was watching a bird, and jumped off the back of the couch, into the window. He smacked his head and fell to the floor. He would stare out the window for hours. There was a neighborhood outdoor cat that he would see, and cry and cry. It was then that we realized we would some day need to get Mr Pants a friend.
When Nicole was about 10, I was coming down the stairs to see Nicole with Mr Pants in her hands. Nicole then proceeds to toss him over her head to let him land in her bean bag chair. I have never seen his eyes so wide. Nicole looks at me and says, look he likes it. Don’t confuse fear with fun and don’t ever do that again I told Nicole.
Mr Pants is the kind of cat that will play with toys, but not if your watching. He likes to be close to you, but don’t bother him or he’ll move. He is always willing to befriend a cat out the window.
A Friend for Mr Pants, Me Too
Three years ago we decide to get a friend for Mr Pants. I want a Bengal, but Shannon is against getting a cat smart enough to do math. A friend had one, and it used to open doors, drawers, and turn lights on and off.
Time to go back to the humane society. This time we found a Manx, named Taylor. She is a cute little fireball. When we first got her Mr Pants was very excited. She was neurotic and a pain in the butt, and she hid under furniture 95% of the time. Initially we joked her name was Maybe, because she wasn’t getting along with Mr Pants, but was changed to Me Too when we noticed she followed me everywhere. She was surrendered from a household that had too many cats, so she tends to be a little territorial, and has space issues.
One of the first days we had her, I woke up one morning to find the stick feather string thing in the bedroom. I asked Shannon why she had brought that up from downstairs, and she mentioned she hadn’t. A couple of days later, I noticed Me Too running around the house with the feather in her mouth with the stick trailing after her.
Me Too is a goofy little cat. She doesn’t meow, she chirps and warbles. She loves to bird watch and is a great jumper. Her hind legs are powerfully built like a rabbit. We have found her on top of the refrigerator. She loves to take skitter toys in the master bathtub, which is a big soaker tub, and use it as her personal skitter rink. She tends to be pretty vocal as she plays with her toys.
Me Too now sleeps on my chest. She is on the skittish side, but in the last year she actually comes out when we have company. She is a sweet little cat, and will sit on Shannon or Nicole’s lap. Me Too has her own set of stories, but the post is getting a bit long.
At this point I can’t imagine not having a cat. They have been great additions to the family, and are a constant source of amusement.
Thanks to Snoskred for the opportunity to get out of my technical niche, and try a different bit of writing.
Thomas, this was a most incredible piece of writing – the best I have seen for a long time. I hate to tell you but I must be suffering from allergies too because I suffered that same side effect at almost exactly the same moment. Did anyone reading this find the same happened to them?
Many of us humans have had pets that have touched our lives in ways we could not possibly have imagined. I don’t know why but in Australia some men feel like it’s not “manly” to have a relationship with a cat. They are missing out on something special.
Thomas can be found at Thomas – Technical Blogger where he says – I don’t normally write sensitive cat pieces, more often I write “manly” technical content – and the manly content is also excellent and worth reading.
I love that picture of Little hiding. Mr Pants looks so relaxed and happy. Me Too looks like a real character. To me a house is not a home unless there is at least one cat. Two is even better!