Wednesday, December 1, 2010
You can keep a dog; but it is the cat who keeps people, because cats find humans useful domestic animals.
It was the day before Thanksgiving, 2005 when we brought them home. Thad and I had been dating for over a year and he just moved in that Columbus Day weekend. I was working from home at the time and, in my desperate need to feel social, told Thad that I wanted a dog to keep me company. He is not a dog person, or at least, wasn't. He is a cat person through and through. He gets cats. I joke that Thad is the Cat Whisperer because where most cats are aloof and run away from strangers, cats purr and run around Thad's feet. In compromise, we decided we'd get one cat and one dog. Good logic, right?
We found a cat rescue organization here in Fairfax that had two little grey kittens up for adoption. We didn't intend to get two, but really, how much more work is two than one? So off to Oakton we went to meet these two little furrballs. A Six-month old brother and sister pair who were dropped off at shelter in rural VA, we couldn't bear the thought of separating them so we decided to take them both after our vacation that week.
The first night here we watched them closely and they wouldn't come out from underneath Thad's easy chair. They were scared of the big screen TV and weren't too interested in letting us pet them either. Our roommate at the time said the first night here they howled all night. Little by little they let us get to know them and after a week or so we knew our home would never be the same.
First there was the little girl, Trillian, named after the main female character in "A Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy" by Douglas Adams. Then there was Fitzchivalry, named after the hero in the Assassin series books by Robin Hobb. They were identical but for size; if Trillian was Size 1, grey kitty, Fitz was Size 2.
If you asked me 8 years ago if I ever would have owned cats I would have laughed at you. I never really understood cats. I felt like they would sit there, judging me without getting a chance to know me. Cats made me feel incredibly inferior. Apparently this is normal behavior for a cat? I wish someone gave me this manual when I got the cats: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/kitty_pet.
It's been a trying year with him. He's had to go to the vet several times for a recurring UTI coupled with total blockage; he has been through a lot. When we saw the tell tale signs again last night that something was amiss, we had a feeling that we'd be facing the same decision again soon- whether or not to keep treating the symptoms and then still wonder when it's going to happen again. Unfortunately all the tests kept on coming back that he was okay, so with no definitive answer on what was causing all these problems, we'd be back to square one. What do you do? I am so grateful to have other pet-loving friends in my life to help me be objective but caring about pet care.
And so it was today, sweet Fitzchivalry, at five and a half years old, continued on to kitty heaven. I've been thinking a lot about him and the adorable Fitz things he did. He loved to play. Julian has been using the kitty wand with the shiny strings at the end to play with him and despite his size, he was very quick kitty. He was deathly quick when he chased a laser pointer. He couldn't resist a cardboard box or a warm lap to curl up on. He loved to eat, everything from catnip mice to mango. He got out of the house a couple of times and he would be so excited about all the smells, he didn't know what to do with himself. Every night Thad's lap would never be empty as Fitz would jump up as soon as Thad sat down for the night to relax. Fitz also had an ally in Scout. Those two were buddies for sure.
Fitz also taught me about cats. First and foremost he taught me that regardless of whether or not I was done petting him, he would tell me when it's time to be done. He also taught me to fear his claws. He taught me that even if cats seem to not care about you, they actually do. He kept me company while I was in labor with Dash, to the point of needing to remove he and his sister from the living room as they were sticking so close to me that they were getting in the way. He taught me that cats' purring could be LOUD. So blissfully loud. Really, he taught me about the unconditional love of a pet that no matter where or what we did, he'd always be waiting to sit on our laps and purr.
We'll miss you, sweet, cuddly, ever-purring Fitz.