Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Pour Out a Little Whiskers
We lost our 18-year-old cat this year.
And, I mean that literally.
The little bastard up and left one morning and never came home.
After the events of 5/11, it was clear that 2009 would not be making the cut for my romanticized time capsule of dewy anecdotes. Exactly one week later, I let the cat out right before sunrise – as I'd done pretty much every morning since we found him 11 years earlier.
"Whiskers" already had a name and a home in 1998. To this day, I can't remember whether it was me or then-Girlfriend Bootleg that he first followed to our townhouse, but a few months later the cat's owner moved away and asked if wanted him.
For the next decade and change, the Cam Fam maintained a 95/5 love/hate relationship with our cat.
He snored – sometimes loudly – while he slept. And, he'd drool in his sleep, too. For some reason, this never got old for me. He was the feline equivalent of my college years.
There was NOTHING this cat wouldn't eat. We were certainly enablers by willfully feeding him table scraps. Later, on several occasions, we became accessories to petty theft as Whiskers would show up at our front door with an entire chicken breast or piece of steak in his mouth – pilfered from a neighbor's barbecue.
Of course, those moments were innocent shenanigans compared to the afternoon that our cat caught a bird and brought it inside…all while we were at work. We'd leave the sliding glass door on our second floor balcony open so Whiskers could come and go as he pleased.
At around 5:30 PM, I entered our second bedroom/office to find feathers covering almost every square inch. GF Bootleg and I were in shock over the mess for several minutes before it hit us: there's a dead bird in there. The memory of cleaning blood off the carpet, walls and ceiling still haunts me.
Whiskers brought home mice, too. In fact, the night Mrs. Bootleg came home from the hospital after giving birth to Jalen, the cat brought a mouse home that sent me to the doctor. I suppose this was only fitting, seeing as Whiskers' veterinarian visits were single-handedly subsidizing the animal-care industry.
I know I'm going to inadvertently omit a few of his ailments and maladies, but at various times Whiskers was diagnosed with high blood pressure, cataracts, anemia, heart murmurs, hyper-thyroidism and borderline symptomatic for kidney disease and diabetes.
And, did you know he was a cancer survivor? Diagnosed with skin cancer – on his nose – in 2004, he underwent surgery that basically removed his nose. For the rest of his days, there was a tiny divot in the shape of an inverted triangle where Whiskers' nose used to be. We adjusted to the freakish visage, but never got accustomed to his sneezes from point-blank range as he no longer had the front of his nose – or nostrils – to block dirt and dust from his nasal cavities.
We tried to make him an indoor cat after this, but gave up after awhile. He'd managed to elude cars, the occasional coyote and inclement weather. He was on his 900th round of nine lives. I once saw him go toe-to-toe with a raccoon and Mrs. Bootleg swears she saw him beat the sh** out of a yappy little novelty dog that got a bit too uppity. This cat could not be contained. Besides, he didn't use a litter box. Did all his business outside, somewhere. We didn't know and we didn't wanna know.
Whiskers had slowed down noticeably towards the end, though. The thyroid disease dropped him from 14 pounds to a very emaciated eight pounds. Sporadic bouts of arthritis hit his back legs pretty bad affecting everything from walking to grooming. But, he was moving around just fine at 5:00 AM on May 18.
Funny thing is, around this time I'd had an extensive allergy test that showed my response to cats was just about off the charts and, like the rest of my allergic reactions, almost certainly getting worse. Combine this with the long-held belief that cats instinctively seek out solitude when they're at death's door and it's possible – possible – that our cat simply knew, figuratively and literally, it was time to go.
And, couldn't nobody diss my n***a
Damn, I miss my n***a
Pour out a little liquor!
-Thug Life featuring 2Pac, "Pour Out a Little Liquor"