New Shoes in the Rain

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kitty boy

We lost a family member yesterday.

No, my wife, our kids, their spouses and our four grandchildren are all fine.

I'm referring to our cat, Forbin, whom we had to let go due to what our vet described as a ruptured mammary gland that had become cancerous.

Forbin's story is a very interesting one.  Our son had just moved into an apartment, first time living on his own (except for student-specific housing) and in a quest for companionship, rescued Forbin from the local animal shelter.  He had been told that Forbin was due to be euthanized the following day, so luck was certainly on Forbin's side that day.

We didn't see this cat very much for the first year or better that our son had him, as he wasn't living with us.  But we heard stories of how he would walk around our son's head while he was asleep in bed, or beg for cold cuts when our son was making a sandwich, or just generally act a little weird.

Then our son got a dog, Rigby, who has previously been noted in this blog, and Forbin was still around but was much more in the background.  At some point later our son moved back in with us, along with Rigby and Forbin, and we already had a golden retriever named Maggie at that point, so we had a pretty full house!

Forbin stayed largely in the background here, too, as the dogs dominated the house pretty thoroughly.  One of the more amusing things we observed him doing is that he would climb onto Rigby's back and start licking and biting him at the nape of his neck, making an odd whining sound while doing so.  We used to laugh that Forbin thought of Rigby as his little brother, as they were less than a year apart in age.  His primary reaction to Maggie, whom he had not been raised with, was to smack at her from under a table as she passed.  The look on her face when this would happen was "what did I do to deserve that?"

Then we lost Maggie to lymphoma, our son moved out and took Rigby with him, and suddenly Forbin was our only pet.  Always found it interesting that he just sort of stayed with us, that there wasn't really any discussion of him accompanying our son to his new home.  It was then that Forbin began to assert himself, being more vocal, more demanding, walking around my wife's head (and mine, though less frequently) during the night, hoping to get her to wake up and come to watch him eat (no, I'm not kidding).  He begged for food worse than most dogs, fattened up considerably from lots of treats and table food, and loved patrolling our backyard (safe because it was fenced).  The old boy really had a pretty good life.  Despite it, I often referred to him as "you little shit" or "you little bastard," which really set my wife off but amused us both.

During all of this he was most cantankerous, did not like most shows of affection from us, abhorred going to the vet (the result of a botched declawing when our son first claimed him from the pound), hissed at EVERYONE but us (and at us, sometimes) who would come to the house, terrorized our older granddaughter, who wasn't and isn't used to cats at all, and, again, generally ran the house.

An aside--I saw a rug or something once that said something along the lines of "In ancient Sumaria, cats were worshipped as gods.  They have not forgotten this."  How true.

In the past few years Forbin lost a considerable amount of the weight we'd packed on him, somewhat due to our decision to try to lengthen his life by not feeding him so much table food, but, as it turns out, also due to hyperthyroidism.  He also lost some of his hair (he was a Norwegian, best we can tell, with long grey and white hair) and began to slow down considerably.

He could still catch a bird or a chipmunk once in a while, even still.

I won't go into the details of what finally ended things for him, but right to the end, he was still as cantankerous and demanding as ever, following us into the kitchen to get a treat each time we went there.   But we loved him anyway.  So long, you little shit.


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