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A fine and peculiar lady

I mentioned in a comment thread this week that my old girl Charlotte had died. I said I wasn’t going to post about it — who needs more downers in their lives, am I right? — but there is a curious fact about Charlotte’s death that cat observers will find interesting.

She chose the spot where she wanted to die weeks before she died there.

She was seventeen years old, and some of those years weren’t easy. She’d been failing for a long time: eating constantly but getting skinnier and skinnier, as if her food had no virtue. When you picked her up, she weighed nothing at all. I didn’t take her to the vet; she was old and cranky and hated being interfered with. Any kind of major medical intervention was out of the question. I was going to have to make an awful decision soon, but I figured as long as she snoozed in the sun and purred when you patted her, she had sufficient quality of life.

She hadn’t wandered outside the boundary of our yard for years, but a few weeks ago the next door neighbor called to say Charlotte was in the middle of her gravel driveway. And she was, lying curled up perfectly composed. In a drizzling rain.

That was so odd, I figured right then she had decided her time was up, but I carried her home and she ate and fell asleep in her usual spot. She kept going back, though. And I kept carrying her home. Eventually, she came home on her own to eat and then right back to her spot. Not the exact spot; it was several spots within a small radius. The neighbor was awfully nice about it.

Last week, the neighbor had a friend over. He parked near Her Spot, and Charlotte took the opportunity to crawl under his car and die. Poor man. He was so sure he had run her over. He didn’t, though. There wasn’t a mark on her.

In fact — I know this is an awful old cliché — she looked better than she had in a long time. She was warm when I picked her up and looked groomed and well. She looked so alive we held a sort of wake for her, afraid she wasn’t dead but in some kind of weird coma. But no.

And that’s my ‘aren’t cats strange’ story. Please don’t be sad for Charlotte — she had a long and interesting life, including a trans-Atlantic move. She was one of the great ones.

Have a good weekend!

August 30, 2019 — 8:47 pm
Comments: 17

Happy T’day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes indeed, we do celebrate Turkey Day in this British household, though we do it as an evening meal. It’s not much effort to get people on board with a gluttony holiday (though I never noticed until it was pointed out that we have exactly two turkey holidays and they’re a month apart).

It is also the anniversary of my arrival in this country. In fact, it is the TENTH anniversary this year.

I think Thanksgiving fell on the 23rd that year, but I count it from the holiday. I had Charlotte with me. You can’t put an animal on an airplane on a holiday, but the day before Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in the States, and Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in the UK, so we flew overnight and everything worked.

And here we are.

I hope you have your fill of food, family, liquor and whatever ball-centered physical activity your menfolk like to argue about.

We’re having a bottle of champagne and an old movie. And, naturally, turkey and stuffing and dinner rolls and candied yams and roast potatoes and lots and lots of it.

Blessings to you all!

November 22, 2018 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 10

The monster that eats cats

prettygirl

This story has a happy ending, I’ll let you know right now. I wouldn’t tell it to you otherwise.

A few weeks ago, our neighbor came flying over to tell us she’d spotted Charlotte, our dear old kitty, in the bottom of her garden in a very bad way.

Dear god, was she ever. So much blood and fur. Her head was so messed up and bloody I thought she’d lost part of it. I was pretty sure I saw an ear in the grass. She was alive, though — panting hard and shocky.

It was a Sunday (of course). I scooped her up in a towel and Uncle B called around until we found a vet on duty.

She’s fifteen. Learning that visibly changed the vet’s attitude but, do him credit, he gave her a thorough exam (including the usual few expensive tests) and hooked her up to an IV overnight. No broken bones, no internal bleeding, no apparent brain damage (still has both ears, thank goodness). But she wouldn’t stand or respond, except to scream when moved. She tore a bloody strip off a careless veterinary assistant.

The only injuries he could find were two deep, horrible holes with long gouges in the top of her skull, like something with big canines clamped her whole head in its mouth and tried to pull her down into the ditch we found her by. I believe now that our neighbor startled whatever it was – which was more than lucky. No-one goes down that end of the garden much.

She began to purr the moment she knew she was home, but that’s all I could get out of her. For almost a week, she wouldn’t move or eat or focus. I forced water on her with a pipette several times a day (she could swallow okay) but otherwise let her be. I was sure she was starving herself on purpose, the way animals will when they’ve had enough.

But after four or five days, she would lick food off my fingers if I offered it. A couple of days later, she used the litterbox (I was never so thrilled to see a cat turd in my life). A few days after that, she staggered out of the back room and refused to return to her sick bed. She’s unsteady and a little loopy, but she’s positively back and absolutely her old self.

The pic is old. I took some new ones this afternoon, but you have to get close to see the scars, and why would you want to? She looks just the same otherwise. A little skinnier.

We’re so very grateful to have our old girl back. And with that happy thought, we wish you all the best of weekends!

July 14, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 32

So close…

I’ve been playing Mad Jack Keepaway all evening, so no good content from me tonight. That boy is a nutcase.

But have a gander at this. Charlotte is a jealous goddess, so this represents real progress.

We went from: aware he exists, refuses to come in the house. To: aware he is in the house, runs as fast as possible from food bowl to front door and screams to go out. To: aware he is in the house, can curl up and sleep quite happily in the same room unless he hoves in sight, then much hissing and yowling. To: sleeps in the room with him quite happily, hisses and bops him one if he gets too close.

Sooner or later, they WILL curl up together, because cats are heat-seeking missiles, and other cats are soft and warm.

December 4, 2013 — 11:58 pm
Comments: 9

No bunnies were harmed in the making of this post

Don’t worry; bunny is fine.

Charlotte’s been losing the battle of dental attrition for ten years now, thanks to a wicked bad case of Feline Dental Resorption. Last year, the vet removed her bottom fangs, leaving her with just the top two. As in, at long last, two whole teeth left in her whole furry head.

Last week, we noticed one of those has vanished. She is now Charlotte Einfang. Must take her in to make sure she hasn’t got a root left behind or something.

Anyhow, she let out a little self-congratulatory meow and her prey took the opportunity to scamper off into the hedge, apparently unharmed. For, like, the fifth time this week (Wanna bet it’s the same stupid bunny every time?).

She hasn’t yet worked out why this terrible thing keeps happening to her.

July 9, 2012 — 10:28 pm
Comments: 25

Did somebody order a box of cat?

Wait, what? I haven’t posted yet? Omigod, get me a cute cat picture — stat!

Also, see Ace for Henri, the Existential House Cat.

April 12, 2012 — 10:36 pm
Comments: 29

Catmind…

Yay! The election is over and I can go back to catblogging. Popular, lucrative catblogging.

I try not to anthropomorphize my cats. I know what passes for feline thought processes is pretty basic stuff. On the other hand, I’m not one of these faux-scientific types who think animals are unfeeling machines and all behavior is mere tropism. Haven’t these dingleberries ever kept a hamster, for cri-yi?

But every once in a while, we who serve pets are rewarded with a little glimpse into the mysteries of petbrain.

This cement cat? We call him Monsieur le Grumpypuss (yeah, sick-making, isn’t it?). I bought him because we don’t have nearly enough statuary in our garden, and this bad boy looks thoroughly cheesed off. I like that in a garden ornament.

Problem — Charlotte thinks he’s a real cat. It simply never occurred to me she would react to a badly cast lump of cement, at least after she got a good look, but she spent a week creeping up to it in…horror? Fascination? Who knows?

Even after I pushed him over and patted him in the face and demonstrated to her in every way I could think that he was a lump of inanimate crap, not an actual animal of any kind, she still acts damn strange around him.

On warm days, she sits with him and keeps him company.

November 10, 2010 — 11:30 pm
Comments: 53

Hey, they never let me take home medical waste before

Poor monkey. Now she’s down to two teeth.

See how there’s really no root there at all? That’s down to the dental resorption problem she’s had for years. The vet said it was the easiest dental procedure he’s ever done. Pop.

So they sent her home with antibiotics and instructions to let her rest for a bit. Said she’d be groggy and probably not hungry until tonight.

Sure enough, she was a bit unsteady on her feet when she got out of the carrier, but she did cry to go out, so we let her. Half an hour later, Uncle B sticks his head in the door and says, “you won’t believe this — she’s at the back door with a big fat mouse in her mouth.”

So the answer is yes — she can kill and eat mice with just two fangs. While bombed out of her skull on kitty smack.

Incidentally, August 20 is World Mosquito Day. Sir Ronald Ross of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine discovered the role of the Anopheles mosquito in the transmission of malaria on this day in 1897.

Not so long ago, malaria was endemic in our little corner of England and in the rural South of the US, where I was born. My grandfather lived with the malaria he caught in New Orleans in the 20th Century.

Worth remembering that the Third World really does have legitimate grievances against us in the Industrialized West, one of which is we won’t let them use some fucking DDT just until they can get their malaria problem under control. You know, like we did. In my lifetime.

I’m guessing if the dreaded dengue fever continues to turn up in Florida, it’ll be “second look at DDT” before you can say “Western hypocrisy.”

August 20, 2010 — 9:28 pm
Comments: 36

Ringling Brothers’ amazing weasel-stretching lady

Just kidding! Ferret hotel.

And speaking of goofy animals, my cat Charlotte broke one of her last four teeth some time between last night and this morning. It’s poking out of her face at a stupid angle.

“You just want to grab it and give it a…you know?” the ridiculously young vet said to me, making a yoinking gesture.

Not funny, though. It clearly hurts something fierce, because she’s drooling in lieu of eating. First thing in the morning, I have to bundle her off to the vet for a bit of hack ‘n’ slice. How on earth she’s been down a mouse a day with only four teeth, I’ll never know.

Now we’ll see if she can do it with three.

August 19, 2010 — 9:37 pm
Comments: 25

Why, thank you

Ah, the fertile earth, freshly tilled, dark and friable. Waiting…waiting…waiting to receive a big fat cat turd.

Poor old Uncle B, when he looked around to see Charlotte balanced happily athwart his newly dug pea patch. I don’t know which was more precious: the look of horror on his face, or the look of bliss on hers.

And that’s the sort of day we’ve both had: a bit in the shitter. He’s picked up a really enthusiastic bit of malware and I’ve been fruitlessly chasing bureaucratic moonbeams all day. Thus, blogging will consist of this single inspirational moment, frozen in time.

The chickens? Bright spot of the day, bless their little beaks. Growing bigger and bolder all the time.

May 24, 2010 — 9:35 pm
Comments: 19