Note: I needed to just write. Very little editing. Stream of consciousness. Just getting my memories out. Please excuse all the typos and grammatical errors I’m sure are rife within this piece.
Today I got to go “pick up” Mr. Meow’s remains. One week ago, on Wednesday January 21, 2015, we had to put our Mr. Meow to sleep.
It’s been very difficult for me to write, talk, or otherwise think about. He was my sweet fur kid for over 15 years, the longest lived of any animal I’ve had.
Now you may take one glance at his picture and think what most people did upon meeting him: He looks mean!
He was all cat. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, as he pleased and didn’t give a damn what we thought about it.
He wasn’t as cranky as he looked, though. He was actually very loving. At least to me. He loved to torment Wayne, however.
THE SMACK DOWN
Mr. Meow had a very long tail, which he liked to use to smack us with. One of his favorite things was to lay on the back of the couch, as he’s demonstrating in the above picture, and position himself strategically behind us and then flick his tail at our heads.
It was cruel. And he knew it.
He’d also snuggle up with me at night, near my head, but with his rear pointed to Wayne. He thought it was funny to “fan” Wayne in the face as he was trying to fall asleep.
But, like I said, to me he was sweet. He never was one to be loved on too much, as far as being petted and held and coddled. But he loved me in his own tender ways.
SNUGGLE BUGGLE TIME IN THE BIG BED
He liked to be close to me, especially at night, but usually curled up on the pillow above my head. In the early years he’d make biscuits on my scalp and neck, which felt divine!
If I was laying on my side and had my hands up under my cheek, he’d often reach down and “hold paws” with me. The feel of his tender little paw in my hand…it’s a memory I will forever treasure. His front paws were so soft. His previous owner had declawed him, and when he’d hold paws with me he’d ever so slightly grab on to my palm, just as if he was trying to hold hands with me.
Here he is holding paws with me while snuggling on the couch one day.
He was also my great nuzzler. He loved to “snuzzy snuzzle” my shoes when I’d come home, rubbing his snout all over the front of them.
He really was a love bug disguised as a crotchety old cat. (Even when he was young he seemed like a crochety old soul.)
I’d like to say we found him, but we didn’t. He adopted us. His people lived in the building next to us in our apartment complex in Florida. When Budly, our Cocker Spaniel, and I would take walks, Mr. Meow (who is what we called him; I don’t know what his first people called him) would play peek-a-boo with us on his screened porch. He seemed super playful and ornery every time we saw him.
But then one day his people were gone…but not him. They’d left him to go free, and there he was wandering around the complex. For the longest time I might see him out the window, but by the time I got outside he was gone.
I started carrying dry cat food in a baggie in case I ran into him. I was going to put it down for him.
A month went by and on one cold evening in November, as I was heading out to swim practice, here he came out of the bushes. Right up to me and Budly. He’d never met Budly face-to-face without a screen between them before. I was nervous how Budly would react, but Mr. Meow rubbed up on him and then rubbed all around my legs. I went to put Budly up and to get the food to give to the cat, but darned if Mr. Meow didn’t follow us up the stairs and march right into our apartment.
And that was how we came to be adopted by Mr. Meow.
He was a playful little squirt. We had this partition between the kitchen and dining room. He’d get up on the counter and play peek-a-boo with me just like he’d done on his screened porch with his other people.
The first Christmas we had him he semi-electrocuted himself and destroyed a string of lights when he chewed through the wires. I had this little white blanket I put up around a Christmas village to imitate snow. He decided it made a much better slip and slide toy for him. The Christmas village was quickly demolished by Hurricane Kitty.
I never really had a cat before him so I had fun buying toys and such for him. He had a tunnel that I called a hut that he loved! He loved to race through it and jump out and “attack” us in the funny way he did. (With paws raised and batting at us as he kept coming at us balanced on his back legs.)
Mr. Meow in his “hut” with his paw on his other favorite toy, his “birds can fly, so can I” mat.
When we first got Murphy he loved to scare Murph by laying in his hut like he was just chillaxing, but when Murph would walk by he’d dart out and bop Murph on the butt. It was very funny. Murph was a good sport about it. A lot of times he’d act like he didn’t see Mr. Meow and walk by on purpose and pretend to be so shocked by the assault. They were really cute together.
When we first brought Murph home, we tried to keep him in our kitchen overnight, where it was easy-to-clean tile flooring in case he had an accident. Also, we didn’t know how he’d get along with the cat, and we didn’t want anything happening to Mr. Meow.
Well, Mr. Meow decided Murphy looked like a fine play companion. We had pocket doors he knew how to open, so for three nights we tried to shut Murph in the kitchen, and for three nights Mr. Meow broke him out. They were friends ever after.
Hanging by the door together
Tabby created a lot of havoc when she came along. She was fine for the first three weeks. Then she started terrorizing Mr. Meow. Would corner him behind furniture, attack him (and I mean viciously) when he tried to use the litter box. It was Cat Fight City –all because we learned Tab was pregnant.
It took about eight months for her to stop being nasty to him. Slowly they learned to tolerate each other’s company. Eventually they could even be in the same space. And, occasionally, they’d even play together. (Sharing Mr. Meow’s hut even!)
WHIPPED CREAM SOCIALS
Mr. Meow liked certain people foods. Kraft American cheese, ham, and whipped cream were his faves.
Oh boy, whipped cream. That was the only food he’d still perk up for even at the end. Cheese and ham didn’t interest him anymore, but whipped cream? He even knew how to stand at the fridge and let it be known he wanted some.
So I’d squirt a little in a ramekin for him. And Tabby too, when she wanted it, which she always didn’t. But she was always invited to the whipped cream socials too. And when Murph was alive he’d clean up whatever they left behind. (He had his own ice cream treats to socialize with.)
Mr. Meow was pretty groovy when it came to other animal visitors really. He loved meeting people. Whenever company came, he’d rouse himself from where ever he was to come greet them. After all, he assumed they were there to see him.
Kitty. One of his many nicknames. He’d answer to that in addition to Mr. Meow. Kitty Katoo was another incarnation.
But the one I think he got the biggest kick out of was Gato Bato. He always seemed to get an extra spring in his step when I said it in the funny voice I used specially for that name.
SHOWER BUDDY TIME
And boy did he love water. It started when we first got him. He liked to jump up on the bathroom sink and drink from the faucet in there or from the tub faucet after I took a shower.
Ever since I’ve had a hand-held shower head that he’d demand to be given water from either before or after my shower. Usually after, but in these last couple of years he liked to be IN the shower with me before and afterfor shower buddy time.
CUTEST LITTLE KITTY FROM KALAMAZOO
I also had a song for him that I sung during shower buddy time:
Kitty Katoo, Kitty Katto
He’s the cutest little kitty from Kalamazoo.
He’s cute and he’s fuzzy and he’s my little cat.
He’s my/the* cutest little Kitty from Kalamazootie!
Sometimes I’d sing “my” in that last line, sometimes “the”…just depended on what came out at the moment.
At our house in Jax, one of his favorite things to do was serenade me with little ditties as he harped on the air return vent.
Strumming the vent with his paws
He didn’t do it much when we moved to our house here in Nashville, even though we had an air return vent. It just didn’t make the same sound. But every once in a while he’d tried. Just to let me know he’d like to play me some sweet music if only he had a better instrument.
One of my most cherished, intimate, tender memories of Mr. Meow is him detecting my cancer. He actually gave me my first cat scan!
When I started going downhill, before the cancer was diagnosed but my health just kept deteriorating, I’d crash out on the couch and Mr. Meow, who’d never been much of a snuggler, insisted on perching on my chest for as many hours as I’d lay on the couch. He always had to be on my left side, right above my heart, though. He’d go there every time.
Well, low and behold that’s where my tumor was. He was trying to tell me. I think he was trying to love it out of me. He saw how much pain I was in and wanted to take it away. I believe that wholeheartedly.
And when it came time to deal with all the needles that cancer brought, Mr. Meow helped with that too.
Well, that won’t make sense without a little background. Words can’t describe the fear/chaos needles used to cause. Still do, but not to the extent they did pre-C. There would be tears, sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea even just for a blood draw.
However, I started realizing it hurt more when I’d wrestle with Mr. Meow and he’d bite me like he sometimes did. I started saying, “Kitty bite, Kitty bite, Kitty bite,” every time I had blood drawn.
Now I don’t need to lie down, there’s no tears or other physical manifestations of my phobia. At least for simple things like a flu shot or blood draws. IVs still pose problematic but…Kitty will always be with me even through those. The “Kitty bite” mantra helps calm me.
I think it was even as early as 2010 when Mr. Meow started having health issues. He wouldn’t eat. Then he wouldn’t poop even when he did eat. He had at least three ultrasounds, four feeding tubes, and I lost count of how many enemas.
In 2013-2104, he also went through a very unfortunate phase of spraying all over the house. Vet trip after vet trip found no evidence of a urinary tract infection or any other ailment. He just was being a booger.
It got particularly bad right when Murphy got the worst. (His legs were going out, and then he started having seizures.) I’m not sure if he was reacting to Murph’s declining health or what, but the spraying stuff ended when Murph died.
It’s also when his appetite returned and his bowels worked regularly on their own again. (I think Murph’s sickness was somehow affecting Mr. Meow. It didn’t do anything to Tab, thank goodness. Mr. Meow and Murph kept me on my toes enough as it was.)
In his last year, he developed high blood pressure. It was so high one of his retinas detached and he went temporarily blind in May 2014.
Meds helped and his sight came back for several months. In December 2014 he went blind again. This time for good.
BATHS: ENDED JUST AS IT STARTED
When Mr. Meow first wandered into our house, his tail looked weird. Almost broken. Because I knew he’d been outside, and because I didn’t want fleas (we’d been through a flea infestation with Budly when we lived in Tucson), I decided to give Mr. Meow a bath. Also, I figured if I could clean up his tail I’d have a better chance of seeing what we were dealing with.
It’s how I learned he didn’t have claws. Having never had a cat before, it wasn’t something I thought of as I stripped naked and got in the bath with him –not until I went to put him in the water and he turned to grab onto my chest. That’s when it dawned on me cats + water = don’t mix.
I braced myself for the claws, but there were none. Just his soft little paws reaching for purchase on my flesh.
It turned out to just be a leaf stuck in his tail. And he had no fleas.
Mere hours before we said our final goodbye, I found myself again naked trying to clean up my cat. This time because his back legs had gone out with him while I’d been out earlier that morning. I came home to find him spinning himself around and around (his front legs still worked fine) in the sun room in a pool of his own urine.
It was an awful sight (and a smelly one) and was my big red flag that probably this time it was really it. After umpteen close calls, my heart knew the vet wouldn’t be able to help him this time.
So I cleaned him up, we made an appointment to bring him in to see what they could do, but there was nothing. His back paws were cold, indicating he either had a clot somewhere, like his spine, or something was going wrong in his brain.
They could’ve run tests, but they advised us it truly appeared to only be a matter of time for real this time. He was entering the Death stage and at the rate he was going it wasn’t going to be easy. The most humane thing to do was to put him to sleep.
So we did. With very heavy hearts. After all, Murph has only been gone a smidge over a year.
Yet, we thought Mr. Meow was going to follow him only 3 weeks after he died, so to have had a whole extra year with him? We’re just very grateful. For that time and for the 15 plus years total he graced us with.
PAW PRINTS ON MY HEART
There are just so, so, so many memories I have of this amazing little cat who walked into our lives a decade and a half ago and has left permanent paw prints on my heart.
Him seeing something the night before Budly died. (Still don’t know what that was, but it was one of the most surreal, supernatural experiences of my life.)
Driving to Denver our first Christmas in Nashville with him and Murph in the mini-van.
Him being Wayne’s arch nemesis.
Sweet, tender kitty kisses at bedtime and sometimes even nap times.
Just his silly, unique, quirky, funny ways in general.
Cheers! (One of my favorite pics from back in his “party” days…when he’d poop himself out playing and such and then conk out like this.)
Mr. Meow, my heart is broken having to finally say goodbye to you, but I loved you, heart and soul, forever and ever.
You’re with your brother Murphy now I know though. You guys come back for me when it’s my time, don’t forget. I’ll look forward to seeing you. Until then, rest in peace my sweet boy. Thanks so much for filling our lives with laughter, sometimes chaos, and our hearts with love like you did. I love you.