Saturday, August 13, 2011

Catless

Buffy, Pinkey, Pippen, all born in 1991
Ed Notes went online for the first time almost 5 years ago on August 27, 2006 with this simple photo and headline: An Attentive Class Size of Three. Well, looking back, only Pinkey was paying attention.



This morning for the first time in 20 years I woke up without having to clean the litter box or change the food or water, or say "good morning" to a cat. While Buffy died at 11 from cancer in 2002 and Pippen succumbed to kidney disease a year and a half ago at 18 and 6 months, Pinkey hung in long enough to celebrate her 20th birthday. Yesterday a wonderful vet and a technician came to our house to put Pinkey to sleep on the dining room table where she loved to chase strings, rumble though boxes and tear up bags from Staples, thus sparing us all the last traumatizing ride to a vet's office. The vet absolutely refused to accept payment for this service - she is a true and compassionate animal lover. (She is new to Rockaway and will be opening up an office soon - even though we have no more pets I may use her as my primary doctor.)

I won't go into the details of why we made the decision at this time - when Pinkey tried to jump from the dining room chair to the table and didn't make it Thursday night we knew we made the right decision. Amongst many other issues, we had seen a tumor grow on her back over the last 6 months from a tiny nodule to a giant hump that made Pinkey look like a miniature camel - the hunchcat of Rockaway. Her time was clearly up despite the fact she was still eating voraciously - how could a cat be such skin and bones - maybe down to 5 pounds from that chubby animal above - while eating so much? Maybe it was all going to feed that hump.


Pinkey was different from Buffy and Pippen, both of whom we took in in the fall of 1991, about 6 months after the last of our first set of cats died at the age of 19. That 6 month period was the only time in our over 40 years together that we did not have cats. Until now, that is. Just watch us kill each other without a cat around to settle our differences.

Pinkey came to our back door in June 2002 bare-pawed and pregnant and wearing a tiny blue collar. We didn't want a third cat - and neither did Buffy and Pippen. So we put up ads looking for her owner while we boarded her at the vet, who performed an abortion. When no one claimed her we did, naming her Pinkey because, well, she had a lot of the color pink in her.

We soon found out why no one claimed her as Pinkey turned out to be the most destructive cat we had ever had. Sweet-natured (never bit or scratched) but a relentless furniture destroyer who would notice any item new to the house immediately and go right for it. We began to call her work "Pinkey Art" and were thinking of showing them off in a gallery. (You should see what she created out of the Staples bags.) My wife went on a tear to Pinkey-proof the house, often to little success.

Pinkey never met a window shade she didn't try to reshape.
Pinkey was relentless, the most determined cat that would do whatever it took to get her way. Hungry but we weren't getting up to feed her? Just keep knocking stuff off our night tables or using her claws and teeth to rip up  every paper she could find until you took care of her needs. Open any door to a room or closet she wasn't allowed into and she would be lurking and make a mad dash for the most remote spot where you couldn't grab her.

She was like a clown cat, her antics keeping us in stitches - even the other cats didn't know what to make of her and often just watched in wonder before she would set one of them off too.

Furniture was her specialty as she ruined an entire room. When we went shopping for replacements we told the salesmen we needed Pinkey-proof material. They just looked at us. Note: we never really found this magic material.

Yesterday, after the pet cemetery came to take Pinkey away, my wife began to de-Pinkey proof the house. Slip covers came off the furniture. I saw my dining room table for the first time in 20 years.

Is this what a dining room table looks like?

I guess the most vivid Pinkey story has to do with the best rocker/recliner chair I ever sat in. We bought it in 1971 when we lived in an apartment on Ocean Ave in the 70's.  I spent my life in that chair, despite the fact that Salle, our cat at the time wrecked it. About 6 years ago we finally had it reupholstered for an immense amount of money. Within a half hour of delivery, before my wife could Pinkey proof it, she went to work. Here are the results after just a few minutes.

A half hour after reupholstered chair arrived

Thus began the war. Pinkey made the chair her special project. My wife covered the chair in layers and pushed it against the wall to keep Pinkey from wrecking the back. She somehow moved the massive chair enough to get back there. My wife stuffed boxes and assorted other stuff to defeat Pinkey. One day I heard some noises coming from behind the chair. Suddenly, a box came flying out as Pinkey went to work. You just had to roll on the floor laughing.

We often speculated as to which cat would survive the others. We should have known it would be Pinkey, the battler with a will of iron. As recently as months ago, the vets marveled at her, even though she had lost half her weight. "I wish I had her blood work," said one. But with one leg dragging we watched her keep up the fight, gingerly going up and down the stairs to her litter box. It wasn't until the last few days that she started to have accidents missing the box. She was no longer doing any of the things she loved - besides wrecking furniture, bird watching and looking out the window. And sleeping about 22 hours a day - she no longer seemed able to sleep peacefully, finding it hard to get in a comfortable position. But despite all of this, she miraculously still managed to jump enough to get where she wanted to be. Until her last dash to the table Thursday night. I watched her carefully calculate the first leap to the chair and barely make it. She didn't make the next leap to the table and flopped a long way to the floor. We rushed over figuring she hurt herself badly. But Pinkey just got up and looked at us almost embarrassed, not quite believing that her will didn't prevail once again, as she walked off to get more food.

She went peacefully on Friday morning, with her dignity intact.

This morning I sat down to read the Times in the recliner - Pinkey's special project - for the first time in probably 30 years - and hoisted a final tribute to the cat with the indominatable spirit.

I'm ready to rock again.

13 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved pet. The love for a pet is as strong as the love for a child.

    On April 6, 2010, I had to put to sleep my beautiful pit-bull, Vanylla. She had liver cancer. I was so devastated that I couldn't go to work the next day. I received Vanylla when she was 5 weeks old and I gave her lots of love and attention for 14 years. Because the loss affected greatly, my son gave me his cat, Yankee, to comfort me. Yankee has brought me so much joy, even though the loss of my companion is still felt in my heart.

    I wanted to share this with you because I feel your loss.

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  2. My sympathies. We have two cats we got the same way. I'm allergic but didn't want them to die in the winter. We figured if we paid for shots and getting them fixed, someone would want them--no such luck. The little devils have a home until they don't need it anymore.

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  3. I am so sorry for your loss, EdNotes. I had the privilege of being the significant human for two cats in my past life, Blinky and Harmony, who both communicated to me (and later to both my husband and me)when it was time to make that ultimate decision. I haven't had pets since; it's liberating on one hand, but it's an emptier home on the other. My furniture was their furniture. Harmony actually liked a rope-covered cat scratch post which did save some of our furniture from his clawed amusements. I miss Blinky kneading his paws in my hair when he would take the upper half of my pillow at night. Although it's been many years since my cats moved on, I have wonderful memories of them.

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  4. Sorry Norm. And thanks for sharing this post with us.

    JP

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  5. She had a good life and she will be in your hearts forever.

    Ira

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  6. My condolences to you and Carol. She had a good life; cherish the memories.

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  7. This was a wonderful tribute to her. (And the accompanying photos proved your love.)
    It's hard to write about a loss, but you captured Pinky's character so vividly. And she truly was a bit of a character.

    Very sorry for the hurt you and your wife are going through.

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  8. Such lovely, warm and funny memories you have shared as a testament to Pinkey's impact on your life. Such a wonderful way to remember her. :( My cat, Squeak, is becoming quite frail in her 17th year. Kya asks me to tell the same stories of her funny ways over and over again. They make me laugh each and every time I share them....I'm sure this will be the same for you. May you think fondly of her each time you recline in that lovely chair! Janine

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  9. Thanks for all your comments about Pinkey and your own cats. We've had 5 over the last 40 years and every one had such a distinct personality.

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  10. Good to hear your kitty went with her dignity intact. Just lost our 18yo last night after a week in very bad shape. It was a tradeoff between keeping her dignified and giving her every chance - between letting her go and making her go. No real win possible in such a situation - family and I are just trying to reassure ourselves that we couldn't have done otherwise.

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  11. You remind me that it's almost a year she's been gone. We wish you well. It is not an easy choice but seeing the relief on her face as she was going to sleep made it clear she wasn't enjoying life. We didn't think we would get another one but on Halloween weekend we found a helpless 5 week old kitten trapped on a divider in the middle of the street in a bush. All black. WE named her Bernie and she is 10 months old.

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