Give Me These Moments Back

Hodi

The day I met her she burst out of a crate, puffed up into a large 1 lb. ball of defiant fur and hissed her displeasure at a very surprised German Shepherd.  Thelma remained curious though a bit taken aback by the sheer hubris of this uppity, fluffy snack.  Her sister, who later became known as Sage stood meekly behind her looking on.  This was Hodi 호랑이 (Holang-i) or more accurantely 검은 호랑이 (geom-eun Holang-i) – the black tiger – named by an ex who spoke Korean fluently and clearly wanted to trip everyone up who happened to possess a tongue

After trying to pronounce the name time and time again (which to me always sounded more like Hodang-i) a friend suggested “Hodi” – much much easier.  And that was the first of many names for our little fussy fuzzy 호랑이.

Hodi was an oddly shaped girl – a type of Manx called a “rumpy.” She was rather round with two oddly placed tiny back legs.  We finally saw an x-ray of her spine last week and some of the way she moved (which was to hop more than run) was due to a compressed lumbar vertebrae right near her teeny tiny tail. Not a big problem when you’re an agile kitten, but something that affected her more as she grew older especially over the last year.

As the fluffy one, people gravitated towards her – hands outstretched.  She got to the point where she really couldn’t be bothered with strangers and tended to hang back on top of a chair lest those hands muss her fur.  Quite the opposite of her sister Sage who merrily greeted each new person at the door, letting them know, “hi! I’m available for all petting! Right here! I’m down here! Hello, I’m very friendly! Nice lap! Hey there, do you have hands? – psst, please take me away from here.”

Where Sage would go insane for a laser pointer, Hodi would only dain to slap it a bit if it were directly in front of her paws.  No need to get worked up for a light that’s impossible to catch.  Although, sometimes she’d forget and move a whole foot or two just in case her “it’s just a light” theory was wrong.  She wouldn’t want me to mention this, but on rare occasion she’d roll over trying to catch that light.  Of course, she’d quickly realize how undignified that was and then defiantly stare directly at me as I tried to entice her to roll one more time.

For her first two to three years she couldn’t quite figure out laps. They were oddly shaped  and seemed to come apart at unpredictable times or be positioned in odd ways.  They appeared interesting, but the best she could do was put two paws on my leg and lay her head down.  Then one day a fluffy lap blanket appeared and that’s when we learned she loved loved loved fluffy blankets.  If a fluffy blanket presented itself, she’d hop over to my newly fluffied lap and go to sleep.  It took a bit longer for her to realize that legs were the things supporting fluffy blankets and once that light bulb went off, she became a lap cat (though a blanketed lap was preferred and the moment she’d see me lay a blanket in my lap, she’d perk up and start angling for quality lap (blanket) time).

She was funny.  Her favorite pastimes included: stealing the dog’s beds (yes, beds – all of them), trying to steal the dog’s crate, stealing the dog’s under-the-desk cave, blocking the dog from going down the hall or approaching me (this latter pastime would cause serious protests in the form of pitiful whimpering and pleas for me to escort said dog around the kitty roadblock).

She was gentle.  I could bathe her (something long haired rumpies need help with on occasion),  I could pill her easily and I could drive her around without much complaint other than a mrr of protest.  She never bit and rarely swatted (swatting was reserved for when humans would tease her with waggling hands).  The vet and their assistants always said she was super easy to handle (like her sister); she just had a really pleasant temperament.   If something unpleasant was happening, I only needed to extend my hand and she’d rub her face for comfort and I’d rub her forehead.

She would tuck me in.  In fact, the whole house tucks me in and they wait until I fall asleep before clearing the room.  If she was still hanging out on the bed and I was in the middle of tossing and turning, she’d gently pat my hand (how she’d tell me she’d like kitty rubs) and purr me to sleep.  If I paced around the house, which I do sometimes at obscene times in the morning, she’d hop into my lap, pat me and in turn get her pats until I could settle down enough to sleep.  And then my favorite, those moments where she’d rest her forehead against mine.

I miss her pats.  Pats said, “I’m here.” or “I’d like you to lift me to my bowl” or “I just want you to stroke my face for a bit, please”.  A pat followed by a mrr was her way to emphasize the importance of the request.

I miss that gentle paw softly tapping my leg  – softly reaching for my hand.

I didn’t realize that the Monday before last would be the last time she’d hop into my lap at 2:30am and purr us to sleep; I wish I’d stayed in that moment a bit longer. By Friday, she was no longer able to move – unable to reach her bowl that was strategically placed next to her muzzle – all related to complications from her recently diagnosed diabetes that mysteriously almost sent her into an insulin coma (possible pancreatic tumor) with a glucose level so low it was “barely able to sustain life.” The incident left her so weak she couldn’t use her back legs (initially), which they believe led to her injuring her back.  She appeared to be in great pain.

I rubbed her face on Friday and urgently explained that I really needed her to get up – that I didn’t want to be in a world that she wasn’t in, but she laid there looking vacantly towards the door, occasionally closing her eyes as I’d find that perfect spot on her nose. Gone were the days where we’d sit and quietly contemplate one another.

On Saturday we took her into the vet one last time and stroked her fur.  The vet promised to give her kisses.

Kitten, I will miss stroking your nose until you fell asleep. I will miss your gentle paws and the way you’d nuzzle my head while sitting on the back of the chair.  I will miss you stealing all of the pet beds and walking behind you – the world’s worst drum major in the slowest hall parades.  I will miss sharing string cheese. I will miss sharing all the fuzzy things.  I will miss your mrrs and the way you’d come to me for reassurance when you were nervous. I will miss wrapping my arms around you and stuffing my face into your fur; thank you for being tolerant. I’ll even miss your indifference as you’d block the dog from coming down the hall, or coming in from the back porch, and your refusal to move despite her pleas; you were funny… and beautiful… and fussy… and stubborn… and absolutely lovely.

I hope for a “What Dreams May Come” heaven where I will find you.  I hope you’ll look for me, too.

A woman gleefully declared on Monday, “it’s time to find a new cat!” and my response, “the only cat I want to find is Hodi.” 16 ½ years just wasn’t nearly long enough for me.  It will never have been enough.

Sam’s Week: Toy Turf

The cats have never taken a real shine to Sam, because when Sam entered our lives, out went all of the digestible cat toys (aka the fun ones). Where they used to bat toy mice under the door for hours or throw them up in the air and chase them around the house, they now get to beat a ball around a plastic track or hope that a large cardboard box will appear and sit around long enough to have some real fun.  Sam has eaten feathers on a stick, toy mice and the larger catnip filled toys.  We would occasionally find a plastic husk, devoid of fake fur, sitting in the middle of the floor.  The only things Sam has ignored are those little plastic balls with the bells inside of them, for that matter, so have our cats.  They’d prefer we not insult them with such chintzy little baubles. On a really good cat day, a drawer might remain open long enough to curl up inside for a minute or two before being unceremoniously scooped out.

Earlier this week I noticed Hodi flirting with a polite young cardboard box.  She coyly paced around it, rubbing her face against it to show her interest.  Unfortunately, the lid on the box was closed and you could tell she was hoping the box faeries would allow her a few private moments of frolicking about on the inside.

Since the box fairy ran away with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny many years ago, it fell on me to begrudgingly assume the role.  I spun around in my computer chair and uttered the magic words, “FINE!” and TADA the box was open.  Within the box was bonus tissue paper, so I spread that out on the floor for their amusement.  (One of the joys of having both a vacuum cleaner and a pair of hands is the knowledge that no matter how big a mess the furry beasts make, you can actually clean it up.)

Immediately, the box was forgotten because “OMG! YAY! Tissue paper!” As you all know, tissue paper is not something you just lay next to and smack; it must be pounced on repeatedly from multiple angles while contorting your body in new and interesting ways.  Sometimes you need to stalk it a bit – that’s when you get a foot away, spy on it silently, wiggle your back end for many moments and finally fling yourself on top of the unsuspecting paper.  (In the wild, this would be the older or lamer paper that couldn’t keep up with the paper herd – a circle of life kind of moment.) Sadly, the noise of tissue pouncing has been known to draw the attention of your litter mate (aka your sister, that horrible thing you grew tired of after about five years – sure, you used to do everything together, but while tree climbing was fun, unceremoniously smacking her on the head or biting her ear became even MORE fun).  

Several days passed as the tissue paper became tissue confetti.  Then the game became “place the remaining larger tissue bit on the ball toy that runs on the track and smack the ball while also hitting the paper.”  FUN!

Sam, the cat’s own personal fun-sucker™, decided that too many days of fun had been going on right under her nose (and she realized she was helpless to stop it since she couldn’t digest all of the paper along with the ball in its circular plastic track), so she decided to make a stand.  Sam began to growl at Hodi who was lazily draped across the floor with a paw outstretched for ball batting and paper smacking.

Neither Hodi nor Sage put up with Sam when she “gets like that”.  And Hodi wasn’t about to make an exception that evening.  Hodi narrowed her green eyes and eyeballed Sam while taunting her by slowly smacking the ball just one more “I dare you” time.  The look made me stop what I was doing.  That look said “Mom, if you don’t stop her, I’ll be on her face like the alien parasite in the Alien series.  She’ll be birthing mini-me’s from her chest by the time I’m through.”  The kind of look that says “I mean business; I will tap dance big paddlewheels on her head.”  I stood up and got between the two of them, backing Sam down.  Where Sam might be able to bark Sage into hiding, Hodi would put Sam in a full nelson while mewing, “whose your daddy, now?” In other words, it wouldn’t be pretty.

So for now, the cats have reclaimed some “toy” turf and Sam has returned to her place at the omega pet (the one whose face has been spared being rearranged by a fluffy tissue predatory Manx with a bad attitude) and all is good.

The Kitties

A couple of you asked for a Hodi update. She’s doing fine. She’s going to have to keep her stitches in for another week and it looks like she may have some allergies which are causing her ears to be very itchy (which is what contributed to her little hematoma springing up). She’s starting a new diet – duck and peas. Don’t ask. I was told if I want to give her treats they should be duck and pea treats. Ummm… I’m sure she’ll love me tossing peas to her. Here she is in all her bonnet glory.

I’d like to point out that we do not decorate in leopard print, nor do we have swords on our walls or collections of action figures. Honest, we’re not geeks!

This other picture is of Sage. Sage is currently convinced her sister is an alien. Hodi smells weird, she doesn’t clean her face, she has a shaved paw and what’s up with that bonnet? Does she think she’s a flower? Jay decided it was time to help Sage understand how it feels to have something stupid on your head, so she’s been treated to playing “Reindeer Sage”. Admittedly this picture is from Christmas, but she has donned the antlers a couple of times since then. Sage, who is really good natured puts up with the antlers because it means someone is spending time with her and touching her. She’s honestly not being victimized unless you count having blue bonnet girl huffing around your house and sitting in all the wrong laps. I’m sure Sage is convinced Hodi just did this for attention.