Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Macavity

Back in October 1990, when I was six years old, I went out into the dog pen in my backyard to find a handsome blue-grey cat with yellow eyes sitting on my fence. He was thin, but had long fur and was handsome. He let me pet him, but stayed sitting on my fence. I ran to tell my mom that there was a stray cat outside. Apparently my sisters had already alerted her to his presence. "Don’t feed him any cat food, or else he’ll stay. Just leave him alone and he’ll leave."


I felt bad for him, worried that he must be hungry, but my mom said not to give him any cat food. So, I gave him dog food instead, which he ate. He stuck around for a week, and I snuck him handfuls of dog food whenever I could. I didn’t need to worry - I now know that my dad and some of my sisters were sneaking him cat food.


After a week, this mystery cat was still hanging around, coming to us to get petted and fed. My mother went and got him and put him in one of our cat carriers. She was carrying him out to the car when my dad asked her, "Where are you taking that cat?" My mother replied that she was taking him to the humane society. At that my dad said, "No you’re not. I like that cat." He was allowed to stay.


Our other two cats, Puddy and Bootsie, were not pleased at this addition. He chased them and picked on them. We were trying to figure out what to name him. I was in first grade at the time, and an avid fan of the musical ‘Cats.’ I said that we should name him Macavity because his coat was dusty from neglect, his whiskers were uncombed, his eyes were sunken in, and when you reached the scene of crime he wasn’t there (he used to pick on the other two cats and then run away when we got there). My sisters said that was stupid, but I guess my parents thought it was cute, so he became Macavity: Our Mystery Cat.


We took him to our vet, had him neutered and declawed, got him vaccinated, and he became part of our family. Our vet told us that he was at least one, maybe two, years old but couldn’t be sure. It didn’t matter - we grew to love him very quickly.


Just a few months after Macavity chose us as his family, my grandma was killed. That was a very difficult time. My sister Carrie remembers taking him and locking herself in her room with him for comfort. That time set precedent for future years - he was never in the foreground much, but he was a very comforting presence.


He loved to play outside. He loved to roll in the dirt, bask in the sun, chase birds, and he was an avid mouser. He even played fetch with us. He put up with homemade kitty roller coasters, playing dress up, many different house remodels. He did not put up with us trying to walk him on a leash. He got along with our other pets very well, having been known to cuddle up with our dog Sadie and groom her. He was a comfort when Puddy was killed, and he loved her successor, Tat, dearly. They were always together. He had a special charm that made people like him. He loved to cuddle, and always drooled when he was really happy. My friends wouldn’t let him sit on them unless they had towels on them to protect them from the buckets of drool. My old friend Ashley often referred to him as "Drool Cat." My good friend Amy was an avid and vocal cat-disliker. I have a great picture that I took of her when she wasn’t looking - she’s affectionately petting Macavity in the picture.


About six or seven years ago he started to slow down. I remember taking him to the vet, and she was trying to coax him to jump up onto a low chair. He finally did jump for her, and she just went, "Oh, that’s pretty pathetic for a cat." The vet said he had arthritis. We tried him on some medications that didn’t work, and we put him on other medications that helped and we got him steroid shots every-so-often to help him when he got really bad. He had worse times in winter than he did in summer. Overall he did fine, but he couldn’t hunt mice anymore. The last mouse he ever caught was when I was eighteen - and I gave it to him. He was very excited.


2008 was a difficult year for Macavity. He stopped using the litterboxes, his arthritis got worse, his appetite decreased. In his prime he weighed more than fifteen pounds - this year he finally dropped to the ten pound range. He started to drink a lot. His kidneys were starting to not work as well, he had a minor heart murmur, and his blood pressure skyrocketed (when we first diagnosed him it was 203/129). We started him on medications and special food. He started having a difficult time in the middle of summer, before it ever got cold, and we knew he would have more problems as it got colder. We got his blood pressure down, but it wasn’t where the Dr. wanted it to be. He started to not retain water as well. He was hospitalized for two days in November because he was dehydrated. I had to start giving him fluids subcutaneously on a regular basis to help him feel better. He was doing better on all his treatments, but he had reached a point that my parents and I had set for ourselves. Finally, my dad said that we were just dragging out the inevitable, and that it was time to let him go. Dr. Maloof put him to sleep today, December 30, 2008, at my house. He died in my arms, and it was really quite peaceful.


Macavity was a wonderful and constant presence that I now realize I took for granted. He saw me through the deaths of two grandparents, elementary school, starting violin lessons, soccer games, middle school, orchestra, many different bouts of bronchitis, choir festivities, drama plays, learning to drive, my first job, my first kiss, and graduating high school. He was a tremendous comfort to me when I was upset after failed relationships. He was there when I started teaching violin myself, when I kept changing majors, and he was a large part of the inspiration for my career choice of Veterinary Technician. He was the constant in the house, having outlived at least twenty-two different pets I’ve had over the past nineteen years (some of the most notable pet deaths being Puddy, Chip, Mozart, Sadie, Tat, Libby, Walker, Jackson, Gus, and Powder). He accepted new pets easily, even if they didn’t accept him right away. His current best bud is Olly (he outlived all the other best buds). He and I were both raised together, and I’ll miss him dearly. Sometimes a pet comes along that really touches your life, even more so than others, and you can never forget him.


Goodbye, Macavity. I’m so glad you picked us.

2 comments:

Jul's said...

StephyJ, I am so sorry for your loss. I know how much you love your kitty. Hugs from me!

The B Glad Family said...

You know I'm not a big cat person, but I believe Macavity was meant to be with you for that period of your life to get you through those rough times. I know you'll miss him lots, but he's way happier now that he's not in pain.
Love ya!