Saturday, August 4, 2007

ObnoxiCat returns

The most petite member of our household remains one Miss Kitty, a six-pound elderly pastel tabby I adopted from my then-local Pet FoodMegastore. Shelter workers there for the day referred to her as a "senior catizen"; at the then-age of nine, she was the oldest cat in the shelter, and therefore the least likely to be adopted.

I admit, I went in there looking for an older cat because I knew I was about to embark upon a period of massive personal change; with at least one cross-country move on the horizon, I didn't want to be saddled forever with a claw-and-fang equipped freeloader of questionable adaptability. So, I figured an older cat would be around only -- ahem -- temporarily, and I would be free to move on in relatively short order after making her presumably final years a bit more comfortable.

An indoor cat, lacking front claws for outdoor self defense, Miss Kitty began her occupation of my home quietly, making no noise as she asked only for a bit of morning food and an occasional sit-down upon her "heated furniture" (that'd be my lap). She'd take a deep breath and open her mouth in a typical loud-meowing motion, but not so much as a squeak or peep would come out. Silent Cat, indeed.

Until one nice Spring day, that is. In a moment of kindness, I decided to put a leash on Miss Kitty and take her out on my front porch for a sniffaround. And much to my surprise, after moving cautiously down the front steps and ingesting a few blades of ordinary lawn grass as salad, this elderly and quiet feline transformed. Petite and quiet became prowling and brave, and her once-silent voice became heard. Repeatedly. For hours at a time, sounding like a cross between a dry hinge and blackboard fingernails, as howling loudly at the front door became her new dominant pastime.

Thus, the coming of ObnoxiCat.

Two cross-country and one intrastate move later, Miss Kitty has reached age 16 and remains here, arguably as active as ever. But there was a moment in July when we were convinced her time had come.

I noticed she'd stopped greeting me at the food bowl in the mornings; she didn't seem to be eating or drinking. Fearful her time had come and scheduled to travel to Las Vegas for the wedding in mere days, we watched carefully for any additional sign of imminent demise. Two days later, after seeing her try to stand and fall consistently, after seeing her lose a couple of pounds of her already-petite body weight and after seeing she'd stopped bathing herself, I finally made "The Appointment"; the one every pet owner knows is inevitable, the one every pet owner dreads.

Then it was Mrs. T's turn for a moment of kindness. She took Miss Kitty to the back porch, opened the door and placed her in the grass of our backyard, all intended to give her one final trip to her beloved fenced yard.

I'll be damned if we didn't witness an instant resurrection.

Miss Kitty sniffed around, ate grass, looked for the holes in the fence, came back in under her own power, and subsequently headed immediately for her water dish. The next morning, she greeted me at her food bowl and, after eating a relatively hearty amount of cat food, proceeded immediately to the back door for a "let me out" howl session.

I called and canceled The Appointment.

Two weeks later, she's apparently as healthy and perky as ever. I know this because right now, she's standing atop her litterbox, treating me to more rusty-hinge blackboard fingernails, all within inches of the back door.

At full volume, ObnoxiCat has indeed returned. But as always, for exactly how long we cannot say.

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