Posted in A Bit of This, A Bit of That, Animals

Four Legs and A Tale

I love cats and kittens. I can’t have them at home, since I have allergies, but I frequently hunt them down online to enjoy their antics in a dander-free environment. This video caught my eye the other day. Everyone who’s ever owned a cat will recognize their attraction to objects bounced in front of them. Running, jumping, rolling – all that fun stuff.

But, the speed of their play means you can’t really see what they’re doing. This video captures the physical animal quite nicely. The music works, too!

Posted in Uncategorized

Goodbye, Little Friend

I spent a week with my family in Buffalo this Christmas, and got a chance to check in on their cat, Velvet. Velvet used to belong to my brother, Tom, but he left the cat in my parents' hands when he got married and moved to Canada. Since then they've cared for him and at this point he's very old, indeed. I believe he'll hit 18 at some point next year.

Velvet almost went to the great scratching post in the sky last year, but was brought back from the brink by a veterinarian, along with some TLC from my sister. This year he seemed on the brink again, evidently lounging on his favorite chair and not doing anything else, including eat. He wasted away to almost nothing before being whisked to the vet once again. He's back and doing better but, alas, the vet told my family that his nine lives are basically up. He won't be expected to survive the month.

My brother got Velvet when he was a kitten. I remember him then – an immense fur ball with massive paws that included an extra toe stuck out to the side so that he looked like he was walking around with four tiny oven mitts on. As he grew into large cat-hood he showed himself to be strong and aggressive, and very attached to Tom. No one else rated more than a glare from underneath the table. He was a long haired cat. Between that and those massive paws he appeared twice his actual size.

Velvet occasionally allowed you to pet him, but he was Tom's buddy. I remember spending a few snowy days at my brother's apartment in Buffalo, socked in up to the waist. My flight back to Boston had been canceled, so Tom and I took the opportunity to spend some time together. Goodness knows I wasn't going anywhere for a while. It was fun: we cooked together and rented a copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tom then got the bedroom ready for me (I'm allergic to cats), washing the sheets and graciously offering to sleep in the front room along with Velvet.

Well, Velvet would have none of that. That was HIS bedroom, thank you very much. At one point I closed the door and laid down. Suddenly – BAMl! BAM!! BAM!! The door flew open and the cat barged in and jumped up on the bed. Tom ran in and collected the aggravated feline. He lugged the cat to the other room, then helped me secure a chair against the door so that Velvet wouldn't be able to get in.

Well, he tried. BAM! Rrrrowwwwrrrrrr! BAM! Rrrrrrrrooooowwwwww! BAM!

Too bad, kitty. The chair did the trick, but I wouldn't have wanted to run into him in a dark alley. That huge hunk of fur ruled the roost for years, stealing potatoes off my brother's dining room table and, on one occasion, snatching a sausage that was wider than he was and almost getting away with it scott-free. My brother said he suddenly saw the sausage making funny wobbling motions and then it simply disappeared, only to show up at the bottom of the table in Velvet's rather determined jaws. Evidently, he didn't get very far. I wondered how he fared with the potato?

A few years after that my brother got married to a Canadian woman. The logistics of getting a cat across the border and caring for it proved more than either one could handle (they have crazy, long schedules – both of them). That's when Velvet came to live with mom and dad. At first my folks weren't overjoyed at the prospect of taking care of a large, furry cat, but the more he made himself at home the more my parents (especially my mother) grew to love him. He stayed in the basement mostly, at least when I came to visit. He was still big and furry for the next couple of years. He was never an overwhelmingly friendly cat, but he did enjoy being brushed so that turned into our little bonding ritual.

Then, last year, Velvet got sick and began to lose weight. He also lost a lot of fur, or maybe it was cut off – I don't remember which. Anyway, I got into town and saw this scrawny little thing instead of the huge fur ball. He also walked with difficulty, having developed arthritis in his back legs. He was less friendly, too. He didn't want to be brushed, or petted. He still followed my mother around from room to room, as he had come to do. He frequently jumped up on my mother's lap as well and let her pet him. No one else, though.

This year he's even more frail. He can barely jump up onto chairs. It invariably takes him two or three tries. His legs just aren't up to it any more. The vet gave him a prescription for Prednizone and that's given him back some of his appetite. He's obviously not comfortable, though. He's a bit friendlier and seems to want company, but I do really think the little fella is on his way out. My mother has admitted that she'll miss him terribly, so much so that she doesn't want to get another cat to replace him. I'll miss him, too, although in a different and more distant way. My mother said that Velvet has become part of her family and she loves him dearly. I've never experienced that level of affection for an animal, but I certainly know others who have.

So, sigh…goodbye, Velvet. It was wonderful to know you and I hope you feel better once you've taken the long trail.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend