Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gentleman Fred

I am crying as I write this. Fred is gone. He was my good buddy.

He was given to us, my family in Ohio by a Chinese family who came to look after our kids while my husband and I were out of the country. The young woman was studying biology and was close to finishing her Ph.D. from the University of Dayton. Her husband had just received his and they were about to have their first child. The grandmother- to-be was living with them in anticipation of the baby and was also looking after their young cat, Tigger. This was 1990.

We had several other cats. We had Wat (she was very tiny as a kitten), Buggers (she earned her name), Coquette (a beautiful and sweet Abyssinian given to me by the owner at a cat show - "Here. Do you want her?") and PVP (my son named him Playful Velvet Paws... shortened to PVP). Should we take in another? My daughter loved the little tabby, but who wanted the tabby the most was our cat, PVP.

PVP loved tabby cats. I cannot say this enough. Before moving to Ohio, there was a cat also named Tigger who used to visit PVP. He had a collar and so I decided to walk to the house to let the owners know where their cat liked to come everyday. He lived about six houses down - quite a distance. I found that Tigger was not 'altered' and suggested they might do that especially since he liked to visit friends so far away from home. The owner said she did not believe in those 'sorts' of things... Well, not long after our conversation Tigger disappeared for two weeks. PVP was heart broken. He cried and cried for attention. So, I walked to Tigger's house to see how he was. He had narrowly escaped death and was hit by a car and lost his tail. His owner said her vet suggested neutering (as I had) and so she did. Tigger was traumatized and never visited PVP again.. and PVP was sad. There was a moment of happiness when a manx tabby, named "Shamus" came to visit.

I cannot emphasize enough, PVP loved red cats especially stripey ones. That morning we returned from our trip from over seas back to Ohio and the young man and his pregnant wife, holding the striped tiger tabby asked if we would take 'her.' "The next place where we are going will not let us have a cat." PVP said "MEOW!!! MEOW!!!" I took the tabby in my arms. "She is a very nice cat." said the young woman. As I looked down at Tigger I said, "Tigger is not a she. She is a he." PVP stood as tall as he could to see Tigger, "and I think we will take him to be PVP's friend." I later re-named him Red Fred.

When I returned to Los Angeles, Buggers and Coquette had been eaten by a coyote in Ohio and Wat passed away there, too. I found a kitten in Glendale which I named Mouse (he squeaked when he spoke and loved cheese).

I have always trained my cats. They sit up. They come when they are called and I had one cat that was especially good at fetching. This time I thought I should teach my cats how to behave well with company. My dear friend, Rich, and his daughter are in this silly video of PVP, Fred, and Mouse.... at the dinner table.

PVP developed kidney problems and he passed around 2002. Fred had always been the silent kitty but when PVP died he started talking. Fred did his best to be patient with Mouse, who has always had a hard time being calm. Fred was always a pillar of strength and a most thoughtful cat. He also, very adroitly demonstrated that cats have logic - a special type of logic. And in this lesson, showed that if I feel that perhaps a cat's logic may have 'holes' in it, then surely as there is light in a day, even our brightest and most logical humans are silly and illogical. Fred loved his friend Miss Chicken. And he loved to come and sit next to me while I read the news on line. It always worried me that he might fall. He would climb the tree to the tip of the branch next to the lip of the roof and the weave forward and backward and then... jump! Then he would 'MEEorawl!!!"

I always opened the window and let him inside. He loved to do this sometimes several times in a row.... kinda made me crazy sometimes... but he was such a gentleman...One time in Ohio, after Buggers disappeared, Fred was late coming inside for dinner. Then at the window over the kitchen sink, he appeared. I ran outside and collected him in my arms. I touched the side of his chest and he winced. Something had pulled a large section of his skin open and it was hanging. I took Fred to the emergency and they said he was the best patient they ever had.

Here is Mouse. Mouse loves to eat grasshoppers. I understand why a cat would love to 'play' with one. I have never understood why he loves to eat them. He usually leaves the legs and wings somewhere I can see them...???? (video to come)

This is Magic. She lived with me for a period of time upstairs and Mouse was quite jealous. Magic was leery with Mouse and with good reason. If you ever wonder if you find your cat watching TV if he/she really understands what is going on, this little video will clearly show how much they truly understand... (video to come)

The last days of Fred's life was very difficult for me. I did not want him to go. He was having trouble with his kidneys and I gave him drip liquid into him under his skin. He fell off the roof in March and the vet came to the house to look him over we decided not to take his canine tooth, "...it may heal inside his jaw and it is probably too much of an operation for him, now..."

I had water bowls all over the house and the garden and as it became harder and harder for him to jump up on the bed I carried him about. I knew he was loosing his vision - his eyes seemed to always be dilated - and when I called to him he could not quite find me to face my voice. On Saturday, I was talking to my daughter on the phone and the back door was open. I went outside to find Fred and decided to walk down to the sidewalk. Off in the distance I saw a little figure talking - Fred was nearly down the entire block! I ran to get him and carried him home. He like to hold my fingers in his paws. That day he paced and paced trying to feel better. I gave him more subcutaneous water and he ate. The next morning he was stiff and I took him to the emergency in the morning. They called to tell me he was having seizures and put him on Vallium. I didn't think I would see him much longer, but maybe a few more days... I called the hospital, "can I come and see him?" "Yes" As I walked into surgery, the doctor stood away from his little body on the table. He was gone. I gathered him up and took him home. I keep seeing him here and there. He was such a fine Gentleman.

No comments: