Saturday, November 15, 2008

So Long Petey Cat

Our beloved cat, Pete, died on Nov 9, 2008

His story began over 8 years ago when we decided our dog, Ike needed a friend since I was going to work full-time outside the house. We knew we wanted to rescue a cat since so many are put down at shelters, so we went to the county kill shelter. We originally thought a kitten would be better for the dog, since we wanted to make sure they'd get along but the shelter worker laughed (as if we had asked for a solid gold cat) and said they didn't have any kittens and when they do, they fly out of there. She said there was a waitlist for kittens or they had a couple rooms full of 'older' cats. Apparently, no one wants an 'older' cat.

So, we decided we'd take an 'older' cat. (and by older, shelters mean over a 6 months old!)

We went into the first cat room where tall cages were placed, usually one cat per cage. There were a great variety of cats, some started meowing and howling, some remained quiet and scared, some just looked at us curiously. I had always wanted a gray or black cat and I knew I wanted one that was quiet.

We peered into the cages and none really 'spoke' to us. We tend to believe that 'our' pets will find us. Then, I saw a scraggly, skinny and dirty black cat in a cage, staring at us with his big green eyes. He wasn't making a sound but he also didn't seem scared. He just seemed too cool to be there.

We opened the cage and that cat JUMPED into my arms and held on for dear life, his claws digging into my jacket (those claw marks are still there, actually) as to say, "good god woman! get me outta here!"

and we got him outta there.

I think the shelter staff thought we were a little nuts, choosing this skinny cat that looked like he had been rolling around in the dirt, scraggly and unkempt but something told us he was the right cat. The shelter estimated his age at about 8 months.

My husband had cats thru his childhood and they had an old stray cat that they called Pete and he was all black. When my husband said our new family member reminded him of that cat, we chose the name Pete and I think it fit him well. We tended to call him Petey tho.

When we brought Pete home to meet the dog I wasn't really prepared for what came next. Our sweet dog, Ike... was very curious and pretty much accepting of this weird creature. Pete, on the other hand, spit, hissed, moaned and was generally very pissy towards the dog - and this was while he was still in the carrier and had only been in the house for 5 minutes.

I wondered what I had done and if they'd ever be friends.

I didn't need to worry. Pretty soon they were lying together and Pete was cleaning Ike's ears. That was a funny picture too... a 90 lb dog being held down while a 12 lb cat licked his ears so clean that the vet said we were doing an amazing job with them. (yes, I confessed). They played, they chased each other and Ike did get a swat once in awhile from Pete's massive claws.

The first month we had Pete we had a stupid little collar on him with a bell. Not so manly for a boy cat. We removed the collar and the very next day we had a dead mouse on the floor and for a week straight, another dead mouse each day.. each left as an offering closer and closer to our bedroom. Luckily, the mice ran out before I awoke to one IN my bed.

The little hunter got 6 or 7 in all and then we never saw another mouse again. Of course, that horrified me - I like mice but I guess he was just being a cat and doing what cats do.

Ike and Pete were quite the pair. They got along great and then one day my husband found a kitten. A tiny little stray had bounded out of the bushes as he was walking into his workplace and rubbed herself allover his leg. He brought they little bundle home and asked me to feed her while he tried to talk a co-worker into taking her home. By lunch time, there were no takers. He came home and sat with her in the bathroom and played with her and I'm sure you can guess what happened next - by the time the day was over he said "we're keeping her". She was named Bella and we became a household with 2 cats and a dog!

I don't really recall any bad blood between Pete and Bella and they'd clean one another and lie together but mostly they were pretty independent, as cats are.

Not long after we adopted Pete he somehow managed to break his hip! We think he jumped off the TV and landed funny - he wasn't the most graceful cat. So, he had surgery to replace his hip.

A few years later we got a puppy and life changed forever. Sam came into our lives and learned a hard lesson one day with Mr. Pete. People love hearing this story so prepare to laugh.

I had literally been living in the downstairs media room with Sam as I was training him and making sure he was ok to have free run of the house. He had limited exposure to the cats at that time so he didn't know they had claws and weren't always up to a puppy's roughhousing.
I have to say this about Sam, he scares easy. He was left in the garbage with his siblings at 3 weeks of age so he didn't get necessary teachings from his dog mommy - like confidence and dealing with new things so he tended to get scared easily.

I live in a tri-level so I have three sets of stairs. This is important to know.

One day I decided to attempt a shower. Sam was in that puppy stage where he did not leave my side so I was confident that I could get in a quick shower while he waited on the rug in the bathroom. I turned on the shower and removed my robe. I'm standing in the bathroom, butt naked, when I hear a ruckus from behind me - it was a mixture or puppy barking, cat hissing, puppy screaming, claws tearing flesh and the sound of a dog running like a bat out of hell down the stairs and a very pissed of cat right behind him. Mind you, this happened in 20 seconds.

Remember, I'm still naked and I'm running down the stairs and every few stairs there is puppy poop and a little puppy pee. When I finally arrive in the downstairs media room, I find a scared shitless (literally) puppy, hiding in the back of his crate with a couple holes in his muzzle from cat claws, shaking like a leaf and a very calm cat sitting by the door with a very smug look on his face as if to say "THAT is why you don't mess with me."

Sam respected Pete after that! Pete did come around and very often would rub up against Sam's face as if to say "I love you, you're cool" but Sam always sat perfectly still, wide eyed and looking sideways because he just never knew if he was going to be beaten up again.

Cats and dogs just have to work it out.

Pete was a great cat. He very rarely meowed, preferring to give a scratching 'yow' when you talked to him. He only made noise when his bowl was close to being empty. We figured at some point he may have been starving before we rescued him because he was always very concerned if his bowl fell below half full.

He never once went outside his litter box and he didn't scratch where he wasn't supposed to. He had his annoying habits tho - he liked to stick his paws in your food. He didn't want the food, he just wanted to stick his paws in it. He'd sit next to you and try a stealth attack from behind. He would beg like a dog and then not want whatever it was he finally got you to turn over. He did like popcorn and he could smell a can of sardines from 10 miles away.

In Jan 2008 he was diagnosed with feline diabetes and you can read about that in another blog entry so I won't repeat it here. He did great tho. He always came to me to get his shots and he tolerated the vet visits. He really ruined it for other cats (he and Bella both) and we have decided we will not have any more cats. We figured we got two fab ones that can never be improved upon so why try?

We miss having to push him off the peninsula while we try to make dinner, my husband misses him standing directly in front of him as he tried to play his computer games, he misses the nightly kiss he'd get, we both miss having to make sure he didn't run outside when we let the dogs out, I miss keeping him out of the garage and I miss his twice daily headbutts after his insulin injections. My routine was Pete. I got up every day at 5am to 'poke the cat' and now I feel a little lost and a little less needed.

I don't want to talk about his death as I prefer to remember him as he was and because I'm still upset about it and the lump in my throat is growing as I write this.

I just want you to take a few moments to sit down with your fur babies and give them some attention - kiss them, brush them, take them for a walk, cuddle on the couch. You just can't know what tomorrow brings and you could wake up and have to face letting them go.

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