I now have to say that for the first time in eighteen months, and only the second time in 26 1/2 years, I'm down to an only cat, and a different one than I wrote about last March. The newest member, and current "Only Cat," is Emily.
Emily was acquired after our return to Bend, as a result of my somewhat questionable theory that cats should have roomies. I'd been watching the ads for available kitties at our local Humane Society here in Bend, and one kitty's looks and description seemed like a perfect match for what I was looking for. She was staying at the PetSmart store at the north part of town, so we decided to take a little ride up there and check her out. As luck (and fate) would have it, the kitty I wanted to meet was in quarantine, having "freaked" a little after the floor cleaners made an unpleasant amount of noise that morning.
But in one of the other cages was the cutest little gray and white girl, who they'd dubbed "Dana" for her stay at the pound, and subsequently her visit to PetSmart. We asked if we could have a visit with Dana, and they were totally accomodating, letting us come into the meet and greet area and spend a few minutes with her. We both fell in love with this little girl, but my lovely wife wasn't sold on the idea of yet another cat in the house. The last four (see below) had all had their ups and downs, and the biggest "down" was when you lost one of them. And the count was three losses in less than three years, at that point.
The "Only Cat" at the time that this was originally published was our Penny, who I always used to refer to as my "Special Cat," because she was. Penny was unique in so many ways, and was the only cat I've had over the years who truly got along with all the other cats that have come and gone during her stay with us. She wasn't necessarily passive with her room mates, and actually took the lead in chasing both Annabelle and Abigail around the various places we've lived, but the claws never came out with any of her house buddies. She even got along with the two "problem children," my giant 28 pound Maine Coon, Cody, and little Annabelle, who we affectionately dubbed the "bitch kitty from hell" for her sometimes snotty behavior towards the others.
Over the 15 1/2 years we had her, Penny endured some nasty illnesses and somehow managed to bounce back. Before our two year return to the Bay Area in 2008, she'd lost a ton of weight, stopped eating, and consequently had to endure force feeding through a tube in her neck for a couple of months. Not pleasant for her, or us. But we made the decision not to do an expensive no-guarantee surgery, and simply pull the tube out and see if she started eating. Amazingly, she did, and initially put all her weight back on (and then some).
But over the last six months, which haven't been the best of times for her, she was once again on a fairly obvious decline. In addition to the ongoing digestion problems, I think there was some senility creeping in, and she may not have even realized that she wasn't using her sandbox like she was supposed to. And for way too much of the last 5 years she had the recurring issue of not being able to keep food down. Not a good quality of life for her, and definitely not for us or our house.
So the decision was made to bring her into the Humane Society, and allow her to move on to greener pastures, much to our displeasure. It's never easy losing a pet. They become members of your family. I've used this phrase way too many times over the years, but it's true ... unfortunately, most of us will outlive our parents and our pets.
The Original "Only Cat", below ...
For the first time in about 25 years, I find myself with just one cat in the household. For the bulk of this afore-mentioned period, I've had anywhere from two to four. Two's fine, four's ridiculous, in my opinion. Although the four of them were as different as night and day from each other, and each had their own distinctly unique personalities and moods ... they are after all, cats.
Annabelle (Annie) was a small cat, who probably never went over ten pounds. And she was both a lover and a complete terror. One of her favorite kitty tricks was to run from one end of the house to the other, scurry to the top of the curtains, and hang there by her claws. Not the best thing, considering this was a rental house and the landlord was very picky about this kind of mayhem. Annie wouldn't be an only kitty for long, as she was soon joined by another little tabby we found in a local pet store. Beautiful kitten, loving, cuddly, but unfortunately she had Elizabeth's bad habit of peeing here and there, and pretty much everywhere. Gone, quickly.
But I still wanted a Maine Coon, and once again we began the long search, via cat shows and websites. We settled on a little cattery up in Burney Falls, near Mount Lassen. The "parents" were both show cats, with his dad being a Supreme Grand Champion and mom being a Grand Champion. Good lineage and VERY big cats. We placed our order and waited for his arrival. It was about eight AM on Father's Day in 1998 when I received a phone call that began with ... "Larry, you're a father." Hmmm ... let's see here ... OH, my kitty's been born! Six weeks later we took the two hundred mile trek north, and brough our little furball of a Maine Coon home. Little did we know that he'd grow to 26 pounds in a little over a year. But Cody was a strikingly beautiful cat and people totally loved visiting him.
The four of them were all very different, and didn't necessarily always get along. Cody quickly grew into a monster sized cat, and I think his size alone was intimidating to the other three. Penny in particular, was petrified of him. Annabelle was the tiniest of the group, never getting much over ten pounds, and amazingly she got along fine with him, sometimes sleeping like bookends in front of the fireplace. And Penny got along with all of them.A move back to the Bay Area proved to be the last one for Annabelle, who lived a long and healthy life. But at eighteen, she clearly was on a downward spiral, and we had to do what was best for her.
Penny was sick a couple years ago and couldn't eat or keep anything down, and consequently had to be fed through a tube for a month. She'd gotten down to about half her normal weight (always a big girl) when we made the decision to remove the tube and hope for the best. It's almost as though a little light went off in her head and she decided she'd better start eating again. She did, she bounced back, and now seems to be on a mission to keep a little extra weight on ... just in case.