Friday, July 09, 2010

Sad week at our house

When I joined this blog, Michael promised that I'd offer cat stories.  Now is the time.

In January 1997, K decided he'd like to have a cat. [Update:  He was living alone at the time.] He'd never had a pet before, but he had observed my two cats and concluded that cats added a little life to the house without demanding huge amounts of attention.  They were more fun than plants and less work than a dog. Cats were independent and didn't need much to be content, K thought.

At the time he said he didn't understand why people talk to animals. "What do you SAY to them?  Why talk to them when they can't understand you?" he'd asked me, incredulously, when I said I talked to my cats all the time.

We went to the Minneapolis pound and he inspected the available kittens.  One black and white tuxedo kitten clung spread-eagle to the bars of her cage and meowed with all her might at us.  When K held her, she immediately purred; she put up a huge fuss when he tried to return her to the cage, shouting more than meowing at him.  K was smitten with her feisty attitude.  She had to be held at the pound for three more days before she could be adopted.  That fourth day fell on a day when K couldn't leave his office at midday when the pound opened, but he wanted that particular kitten so I took time off of work to be at the pound the second it opened to nab her for him before someone else got her.

"Diggity" has been passionately devoted to K ever since.  The second he sits down at home, she is on him.  She gazes at him and purrs.  (I've made up a little voice for her that says, "I love you, I love you, I love you" in rapid succession, matching the passion in her gaze.) When he pets her, she drools.  When he tries to get away from her she shouts at him.  When he leaves the house, she sits by the door and yowls.  When he's been away for awhile she yowls more.  When she hears his keys outside the door, she races to the door and yowls some more.

He's expressed annoyance about this over the years:  "Why does she have to be ON me all the time?  Why can't she just be by herself sometimes like your cats?  I got a cat because I thought they were independent."  I remind him that in their initial meeting at the pound, Diggity showed him exactly who she was.  She's so much needier than any of the four cats I've owned but she's a one-person cat so K bears the burden of giving her the attention she demands.

She's smart.  K trained her not to jump on tables and counters EVER and to sit up on command.  Diggity has trained K to talk to animals -- a lot.

She's fierce.  Michael's mother bears scars from wounds inflicted by Diggity.  A couple years ago, my mother and Michael's mother, D, stayed at our house.  D had her cat, Missy, there.  We kept Missy closed up in one bedroom for most of their stay, but D tried to introduce Missy to the rest of our animals in hopes they'd get along so Missy wouldn't have to be sequestered.  Carrying Missy, D walked into the living room where Diggity, Petrik (my cat) and Karma (dog) were lounging.  Diggity decided this was a highly threatening situation and went into attack mode.  She leaped onto D's back, embedded her claws and hung there while yowling ferociously.  It was just like watching a lion leap onto the back of its prey in a hunt.  I was able to save D before Diggity made a meal of her or Missy.

She doesn't like when people yelp or scream.  K and I were watching the X Games one evening when some amazing feat made me hoop and holler.  Diggity jumped onto my head and embedded her front claws in my forehead and her back claws in my neck.  I shrieked and leaped about the room begging K to "get her off of me!" while she clung stubbornly to my head.  K was laughing too hard to help, which got me laughing and then Diggity was willing to let go.

A couple days ago, K noticed that Diggity was peeing outside her litter box.  He took her to the vet, suspecting a urinary tract infection.  We discovered that she did indeed have such an infection; but we also learned that she has Stage III kidney disease.  It's incurable and the vet expects she'll die within the next couple years.  She's 13.5 years old right now, so that'll be an average life span for a cat.  The house will be quieter and more peaceful without her and that will stink.


love johnson said...

I feel bad for K, and you as well. It is amazing how connected and attached we get to our pets. When my cat Maddi started going downhill, it was awful. She was 15 and I had to make THE decision. It was tough...

C's cat Spanky is 17 and for being so old, he is remarkably (relatively) active and in good health. But we both know that the day is becoming more of a reality than it used to be where we are going to have to make THE decision...and we are not looking forward to that at all

Stephanie said...

Ugh. Making THE decision is so so hard.