One thing my cat has in common with me is that we have been healthy enough most of our lives to avoid having to see the doctor. I got her as a kitten in 2004. She was from an animal shelter and had been neutered before being put out for sale at Pet Smart. I had my niece with me to help choose my new cat. I remember there were twin cats in one cage meowing for my attention. Perhaps there were about 4 others that didn’t catch my attention. Then I saw these big black eyes looking straight at me, waiting for playtime. She was on her side with one paw sticking out of the cage. I tugged her paw with my finger a little bit. Then she almost instantaneously started to clean herself. A long hair black cat with white markings made her resemble Sylvester from Loony Tunes. She just as well should have been a cartoon character. She enjoys playing with toys well into her adulthood.
When I got her home, I held her in my arms and gave her a hug. She was purring almost instantly. Unusual for a cat to purr so quickly when held by a stranger. Her first act was to bite my earlobe and pierce my ear. Eventually she did the same with the other ear. She has all her claws and has learned not to use them when holding her, especially if she wants a lap to sit on. Bonny also was potty trained, a great gift that almost all cats possess, the ability to do their business in a litterbox. For the first couple months, she hardly made a noise, even though I talked to her like she was people. But then she eventually began to vocalize a great deal. Like she had found her voice, or perhaps more that she had bonded with me and felt obligated to engage in conversation.
That was 14 years ago. She is definitely an old cat now, but still does not act like one (other than sleeping the majority of the time). I feel a sense of pride that I have taken good care of her. I feed her Science Diet, the more expensive stuff, but also is better for her. Since the beginning all she ever knew was the dry food, and never knew any different about what she got for a meal. No complaints. She learned quickly about when not to jump on a piece of furniture, or use something other than a designated spot to use as a scratch pole.
Everytime I open my back door to go outside, she is quick to stand at the door edge and take a peak outside. Her interest in the great outdoors was bred in to her. She is a great mouser. When she was young, however, everytime she would stand at the back door, hoping for me to let her out on her own, I resisted. For the first two years after getting her, I felt she was still too young and perhaps too inexperienced to avoid danger being out on her own. I felt like a dad with his kid. There are a couple other cats that rome around my block, and I am not entirely opposed to trusting my cat to take care of herself out there. So finally, the third spring, I let her venture outside, hoping she would stay in the boundaries of my yard. My cat is thinking, however, that because we are buddies, that I am joining her on the nightly rounds. Poor girl wishes we could be partners in crime all through the night. But she is very content on her own. I would watch her chase down mice in the backyard.
Bonny is genuinely a beautiful animal. She quickly made friends with my neighbours. She also knew when I wanted her to come inside, I would not try to chase her or grab her if she sat at the back door. She was always rewarded with a hug (she enjoys putting each paw on each side of my neck like a human will hug). She is a hugging and purring machine. When Scary Numan would rehearse every Thursday, she would patiently wait upstairs to avoid the noise until we finished. Then she would appear at the top of the stairs and announce her presence, requiring everyone to give her attention.
For a good portion of the time, anytime I sat at my desk editing video, was prime time for Bonny to jump up on the desk and be pampered. Very hard to resist her charms, even though she would start knocking pens and other stuff off the side. Once I started using the desk for my daytime job, there was no room for here anymore. So I setup a chair beside me that she uses as perch. Knowing that the window was a prime source of interest for Bonny, I setup a couple perches next to a couple windows. I have a pile of books stacked up under the living room window. They are stacked high enough so she can sit on top of them to peer out the window. In the kitchen, her perch is simply a box I got from the liquor store. It is stronger construction, reinforced with some gaff tape, so she can sit and keep an eye out in the backyard.
Living alone, Bonny has become a great companion as I work from home. She is there as a muse. I will take a break once in a while to play with her. She will always be a kitten. Now in her later years, I have begun to reward her trouble-free behaviour with a human treat once in a while. I will also buy canned cat food for her on special occasions (like Thanksgiving). At 14 years old, she still has a lot of energy. She likes to show off a special trick when I let her outside. She will sprint across the yard at top speed and climb halfway up a tree.
There are countless Bonny moments. Like when a KARE 11 cameraman came by to shoot video of an editing session in my house, Bonny insisted on always being in front of the shot. She would follow him around as he shot cutaways, a real camera hound.
I have had cats as pets since I was around 13. I guess I prefer cats over dogs as pets, but I have enjoyed great companionship with both. I once found a cat while walking in a snowstorm. It was pure white out when I heard the meowing of a cat. It was a pure white cat in the snow. I named her Emily Dickinson. She was a special cat for me when I was young, and she continued to live with my parents to a ripe old age after I moved away from home.
I adopted an older cat when I first moved to my house. She was nice cat, and also was growing old. She happened to pass away while I was on vacation (a friend was looking after her while I was gone). Since then I have had Bonny, and we are quite attached. After a couple years I would let her out after dark in the summer, with her quickly coming to my call when I woke up in the morning. She would always appear, something I grew to trust in my precious cat. When she didn’t respond to my call one morning, I knew something was wrong. For the first time as an adult I felt real anxiety about losing a loved one. I plastered posters all over the neighbourhood, knocked on doors, and spent a long period of time slowly walking up and down alleys calling her name. My God, I never realised what a painful experience it would be to lose such a special animal. I was sick to my stomach, nearly in tears. Just a day later she was found just a couple houses down, and I learned my lesson and put an ID with my phone number on her collar.
As the years have gone by, I have grown accustomed to my dear feline friend to accompany me as I go about my day. She watches as I organize things in the basement. While I’m at my desk, she will jump up on top of my office chair and rub up against my hair. Her purring acting like a sedative as I go about my work. One does not deny that for almost all pet owners out there that will declare their pet as a member of the family. They are loved just as much as any other human member.
Growing accustomed also has meant that I never worry about her getting sick. Or being able to take care of herself if I go out of town for a couple of days. I would return to some animated complaints and extra hugs. But she kept her appetite and kept herself healthy. Thursday of this week was like any other work day. My cat was doing her usual routine. However that night, she didn’t jump on my bed as usual. I knew immediately at once something was wrong with her. She was sleeping when she usually starts following me around. Worse, she was not getting up to eat. After only drinking a bit of water, I went to get some canned food after work on Friday. Normally she will be very animated and poke her head up on the table where I am dishing out the yummy fish goo. But she wasn’t interested at all. Now she had gone all day without food.
Trying to be optimistic, I went to bed Friday night praying and thinking positive thoughts. "She has some kind of flu, she will sleep it off and be better", I coached myself. But I didn’t sleep much. She was sleeping too much and still hadn’t eaten anything. It was now at least 24 hours since she had eaten and it was time to contact the vet. After going through some tests, the vet said he was hopeful (actual word used in his write-up) that it was a mild case of inflamed pancreas or mild GI issue. Being that this was her first visit to the vet since she was a kitten, she got some worm medicine. Then she got antibiotics for the possible infection, and a new type of drug to help reduce nausea.
Despite her low energy, Bonny is still responsive, relatively alert, and is otherwise physically healthy, is perhaps underweight. She has a strong heart, good lungs and kidneys. For a cat that just the night before would eagerly leap up on top of my chair, now was battling a serious illness. It is now late Saturday afternoon. I have been letting Bonny sleep after the traumatic experience she had at the vet this morning (she resisted when they took a blood sample). She woke at about 4pm and I tried to get her to eat some extra special yummy stuff that the vet recommended. She would only take a couple sips of water. I will not get push her too hard, since it may take time for drugs to take effect. She was also given some fluids at the vet, which I could tell helped her.
But if I can’t get her to eat Sunday, it will the emergency room. Having the possibility that Bonny could go away forever took me over emotionally a lot more than i expected, more than the time she didn’t come to the back door one morning. Right now there is an ebb and flow of heartache as I think of this precious girl leaving me. She is too cute, too playful and energetic, too close as a family member to leave just like this. I could not get my self to eat much for lunch, and can’t get my self to think about other things. So here I am typing to come to grips with some things.
First of all, I recognise that I get overly sentimental with animals, perhaps more than people. While watching the Iraq war on TV in 2003, there was a brief clip about a dog that was trapped in an abandoned building, and was eating paper due to starvation. My heart went out to this innocent animal caught up in a chaos when he didn’t deserve to be. I felt bad when I spotted a crippled squirrel still alive in my backyard. As well, I am very endeared to my pet cat, more than any other pet I have had in the past.
But I must confront the fact there were pets that I was fond of while growing up that are gone now. Back then I was able to get over the grief, and must coach myself that if the worst happens, I will grow attached to a new pet. If I can get to sleep tonight, I will continue to think positive thoughts about Bonny, knowing that she is a strong cat that can endure this illness.
As of this moment, she will get up to lie down again in a different position every 30 minutes or so. It is times when I feel this grief that I can relate to good friends of mine who have lost a longtime companion. As much as others sympathise, including me, we still can’t feel the real loss such a close relationship has on a person. One friend talked about how his dog would rest it’s head on his foot while at his desk. That kind of personal physical attachment makes for a deep pain when it is no longer there.