Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another One Gone

The trouble with having animals that are close in age is that you sometimes end up with a summer like this one. Tuesday I had to have Tenzing put to sleep. It wasn't unexpected — he's the cat I'd been expecting to lose; he'd been diagnosed with megacolon some time ago, and more recently with a probable bladder tumor — but it's never easy.

We got him from our kennel lady almost 15 years ago. She had a litter of kittens from a rescue cat, and swore to us that they all had homes. So when we dropped off our cats to be boarded, we felt safe admiring the babies. They were adorable: all black, all of them, and active and cheerful. Tenzing came to the front of the enclosure and climbed up the mesh to about chest height, mewing at Lisa. We agreed that we were very glad he was spoken for.

Of course, when we returned from vacation and picked up our cats, we discovered that Tenzing's home had fallen through, and he was all alone in the big enclosure. Once again, he climbed up the mesh door and called to us — and, of course, he came home with us the next day.

We named him Tenzing for obvious reasons: he climbed everything. "Everything" included any human being who stood still long enough, and at that point in his life, he was small and light, light enough that he could get most of the way up a loose pair of (occupied) blue jeans before his claws hit your thigh. Of course, this usually resulted in a shriek and an inadvertent swat, but Tenzing never seemed bothered by being knocked down. It certainly never discouraged him from trying again. At this point in his life, he got the nickname "Bug" — he looked like a little black bug as he scuttled around chasing the bigger cats. Or his tail. Or nothing at all.

As he got older, he became a larger cat, a cat of considerable size and solidity, and he climbed less. (For which we were profoundly grateful.) He did discover that if he jumped into a wheeled office chair, it would go skidding across the floor, and he seemed to enjoy this new trick, but that was about the extent of it. At his largest, he weighed 22 pounds, which was quite a lot when he walked on you in the middle of the night. We got him down to 19 pounds with some effort, but he remained a cat of substance. We called him Tenzing Norgay Bug-sama: he needed a name to match his presence.

Over the last few years, he's been losing weight, slowly at first, and then more quickly. He was diagnosed with megacolon, and had to go on a special food. As he lost still more weight, he rediscovered climbing, and I once again found him in the kitchen sink, on the table, on top of the icebox, once in a bookshelf, where he had pushed the books back to make a nice niche for himself. He spent a lot of time snuggled up next to me, and I tried not to notice how bony he was getting. The megacolon was treatable, and we carried on.

And then he developed what seemed to be a bladder infection, which quickly became something more. He was having more trouble passing feces. And finally he stopped eating, and it was obviously time.

The funny thing is that the surviving cat, Pretty Boy Floyd, has slowly started taking over all Tenzing's favorite spots, and even a few of his habits. This morning, I was making grits with cheese, and Vixen came trotting in to the kitchen to get her taste of the shredded cheese. Normally, Tenzing would have been right there with her, but to my surprise, Floyd took his place. In the past, Floyd has never been much interested in people food. So I gave Vixen her cheese, and put a little down for Floyd, who snatched it — and then did a double-take, as if to say, this is what the fuss was all about??? He eventually condescended to eat it, but I think it was only to keep the dog from getting it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Random Thoughts

I seem to be fated to take cute animal photos these days.


This handsome gentleman is Socrates, a resident of Historic New England's Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm. He was kind enough to attend the Jackson Hill Cider Days, one of my favorite Historic New England events - I like it well enough that I've signed up to work it the last 4 or 5 years. I would have been far more flattered by his display if he hadn't done the same to pretty much every female (and most of the males). He really is lovely, though apparently stupid enough that he would keep displaying and forgetting to drink until he passed out. So the farm staff would periodically scoop him up and pour water over his head to cool him down. He'd squawk, and his feathers would deflate - making him about half the size he had been - and then he'd forget what had happened and run over to show off to someone else.

In a completely unrelated note, Friday's paper had an article on overcrowding in college dorms. (Yes, that annual article, though to be fair the situation seems a tad worse this year.) Brown apparently was so strapped for space that it had to put some freshman in with older students, including one poor boy who was assigned to the dorm occupied by a co-ed literary fraternity. His (for-publication!) quote on the matter:

"I was kind of weirded out. I didn't know what kind of person you'd have to be to join a society designed for people who read a lot."

The boy went on to say that he didn't intend to become one of those people.

Huh. Maybe these aren't unrelated stories after all.