my old friend the cat: missing, and found

Oh, great.  A blog about your cat, you say.  How trite.    Well I don’t care, and you don’t have to read it.

My 19 year-old, toothless, deaf and wobbly cat, a dear friend, started complaining the other week.  I knew he wasn’t feeling well and probably expected me to do something about it.  As it was the weekend, I couldn’t take him to the vets, and on Sunday night he wandered off.  He’s not one to go more than a few yards from the house, as he prefers blankets and warm spots.  But by the next day he hadn’t come back, and we were worried for him.  We have racoons around, so I was afraid that they had hurt him. We called around to the vets in the area and to the SPCA, etc.  Late the next day we heard from a vet  — someone had brought in a cat matching our description.  The person was contacted and, long story short, it was indeed our cat.  They were taking very good care of him.  Apparently he was out in the (major) road nearby, confused,  and someone picked him up and he found his way to this very kind person who took care of him.

This cat found me when he was a kitten, maybe 3-4 months old.  I lived in a little shack of a house, and we already had 2 cats, plus lots more in the neighborhood.  This little scrapy grey stray kept climbing in the kitchen window, no matter how hard i tried to keep him out.  He’d climb in, plop down on top of the cat food, and frantically start gobbling up what was there.   I’d toss him out and he’d be back before I could turn around.  Eventually he got through to me, and we accepted him into our house. That was 19 years ago.

For a while, a year or two, he lived with a friend, but she was moving and so he came to live with me again, in an apartment where we weren’t supposed to have cats.  He’s such a smart guy – he has a bit of siamese in him.

About 6 or 7 years ago, he started acting strangely, and within a few hours had completely lost his sense of balance.  We thought he was a goner.  He became small and couldn’t stand, and apparently had gone deaf.   We took him up to an animal neurologist, who could see something had happened in his brain but apparently it wasn’t a stroke.  We gave him lots of B vitamins, and he slowly started to make a comeback.    To this day, he’s all but deaf, and his balance is really bad.  He kind of wobbles around, especially when he tries to look up and to the side.   His teeth got really bad and had to be removed, so now he’s toothless.  He doesn’t clean himself anymore. He often forgoes using the litterbox, and when he does, he misses.   But he’s a sweet old character, and we love him, and we’re glad he’s home.  I don’t think he’ll be around much longer.

Why care so much about a cat?  Well, he’s a living, sentient being, just like me.  He hurts, he has desires, he has good days and bad days.  He gets excited, anxious, hungry, and lonely.  He’s taught me many things, by his example.  His fearlessness, his courage and perserverance, his affection, his kooky personality, his love for life, for food.  His curiosity and cleverness.  How he’s handled aging and the changes in his life (not that he’s had much choice, but he’s borne it with grace).  His dignity, even though his health is failing and he can’t keep it together.  He still comes and finds me when I’m sitting down and says, OK it’s my turn to sit on your warm lap and that’s what I’m gonna do, even if you don’t like it.   All things expressed very purely and without words by this cat, my old friend.

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