Cool Cats

While I was typing this I had a cat and a computer on my lap. It was a first for me. I usually type these articles at a desk at my house or a table at my girlfriend’s. However, I have a very sick cat, Hardy. Hardy really likes to spend time actually on me. So I am letting Hardy hang out in my lap while I type. Hardy is a very special cat to me. He was found at a Hardee’s restaurant, thus the name. Several years ago I went to the Hardee’s on Hixson Pike. I usually went to the Hardee’s in Soddy Daisy so this must have been fate. As I got out of the car I heard a growling coming from near the door. An employee was feeding a biscuit to an obviously hungry cat as he was growling as he ate. Cats do this sometimes if they are really hungry. I noticed this interaction but resigned to stay on course and go in to get my food. I was sure the cat was a stray but I had several cats at home. I reminded myself I did not need another cat. I got my food and sat down to eat. I saw several people starting to watch some kind of drama outside in the parking lot but I just continued eating. That is until I heard some lady say, “He’s gonna get run over!” The stray had wandered under a car and did not want to come out. The people who owned the car were trying to leave but were afraid to do so as they might run over the cat. I managed to coax the cat out and put him in my car. I took him home where he was named, taken to the vet and became part of the family.

It quickly became clear that Hardy was a special cat. He meowed when I came home not just for food but to be petted. He would usually get in my lap then stretch up to stroke my face with his paw. He would purr while doing this. Hardy would always sleep on me whether I was in the bed or sleeping in a recliner. He hung in there even when my Chihuahua “Buddy” got grumpy about having to share me. Hardy even developed the habit of coming into the bathroom and “nesting” between my feet when I was using the toilet. Hardy had one annoying tendency though. He would often dart out the back door to go down the steps off the deck, usually to graze on some grass. He never ran away but if it was cold or raining it was irksome. However, this minor transgression was easily forgiven.

Last October Hardy began losing weight. He had weighed almost ten pounds at one time. He was a handsome, healthy cat. He lost over a half pound at one time. That’s a lot for a cat. We tried more food and then vitamin D shots and also eventually a steroid. It was determined Hardy probably had stomach cancer. Hardy’s weight leveled out but then recently he got down to seven pounds then six pounds three ounces. His appetite was still good but it seemed his body was not processing the nutrients. I tried special foods, broths and eventually even baby food. Hardy was obviously not as energetic as he had been. One day about a month ago he had chased a laser beam like a “whirling dervish”. I tried it the other day and he noticed the laser but did not try to catch it. I knew then that he was probably going into a downward spiral. Hardy kept me company in my recliner while I worked on this article. I know with his weight loss and loss of energy that Hardy is not going to be with me much longer. I will miss him greatly. Some people don’t really get it when your pet dies. I’ve said it before pet people understand when your pet passes away. They know it really hurts.

I want to mention two other great cats that I “owned”. Pet people know you don’t own your animals. You are just lucky they are in your family. Several years ago I was on a trip in Montana to visit a friend of mine. He lived in Livingston, which had a very nice animal shelter. His wife volunteered at the shelter and told us about it. My girlfriend at the time and I visited the shelter and while there we made the acquaintance of a very spirited small black kitten. The kitten was reaching through the cage bars to us and we got it out to play with it. The kitten climbed on our shoulders and reluctantly we had a worker put it back in its cage and we left. Later I mentioned to my girlfriend that if we were at home I would take the kitten home. How was I to know she would call the airlines and find out what was involved and what it cost to fly the cat home to Chattanooga? We returned to the shelter and got the kitten (we thought) out of it’s cage. A shelter worker told us that was the sibling of the kitten we had played with earlier. Well, as we had got it out and told it that we were taking it home we decided to take it and it’s sibling. One was named Curly and the other Moe as in the Three Stooges.A shelter worker told us there had been another sibling Larry but it had been adopted. Whew! I almost had three kittens. We took the cats back to my buddy’s home and we bought an airline approved crate to fly the kittens home. We decided to rename ‘Moe” as it was a female. I proposed she be renamed “Liv” as she had come from Livingston, Montana. Thus I imported two kittens from Montana to Tennessee.

Liv and Curly had similarities and differences. Both were shiny black. They were outgoing but Curly more so. Curly was noticeably bigger and outweighed Liv by several pounds. One thing they both liked to do was jump from furniture onto your shoulder. They could do this without digging into you with their claws. Curly could jump from the floor onto your shoulder from the floor with ease. However he preferred to jump from a counter or furniture.. He surprised several people at my or my girlfriend’s house by leaping from furniture onto their shoulder. I would sometimes think I was out of range of his leaps when I would feel 10 pounds of cat landing on my shoulder! Needless to say it freaked a few guests out when he jumped on them.

Curly and Liv were very loving cats. They would meow until you picked them up then try to get on your shoulder and rub their heads against you as they purred loudly. I have had other loving cats like Hardy, but none who jumped or climbed on my shoulder to rub on me like these two.

Sadly Curly and Liv both had intestinal problems. I likened it to feline “Crohns’ disease. They at one time had sleek coats and Curly weighed over ten pounds and was very muscular. Both ended up having to be given different medications for this illness. One time we wrapped Curly in a towel to try to hold him to administer a pill. Curly fought us and I could feel he was incredibly strong for his size. He managed to squeeze out of the towel he was so strong. This ailment caused me to give the siblings special food that was easier for them to digest. I would feed them separately from the rest of the herd. One ate on top of the washer while the other ate on top of the dryer. When I called them it always brought a grin to my face as Curly and Liv appeared to be racing down my long kitchen and into the laundry room. Then they would leap onto their respective appliances to eat. It looked like they had choreographed it.

Curly and Live loved to chase the laser of a laser pointer and both really liked to play with a cat toy I had gotten. It had a feather attached to a plastic rod. Curly would spin around in circles chasing the feather and then leap into the air trying to grab or bite the feather. Several times he was panting so hard that I had to let him catch his breath. He would lay down on my marble fireplace hearth and breath heavily until he caught his breath. I really believe he would have kept chasing the feather stick until he collapsed. Liv liked to sit in my lap and liked to sit on my knee when I was sitting in the bathroom. Both were super cats, very loving with outgoing personalities. Curly fought the battle with his stomach ailment until March, 2012. Liv lasted three more years until September of 2015. Her passing was very hard on me. She was my surviving Montana cat. She had battled the disease for longer than Curly and with many trips to the vet I had become even closer to her. I buried both in my yard. I will always remember my jet black kittens that I “imported” from Montana. Their playing with lasers, feather toys, their personalities and their struggle with digestive disease will always endear them to me. Hey some people bring back t-shirts as souvenirs. I had two great cats to remind me of my trip to Livingston, Montana.

Pets can be such good companions you cannot help but love them. When they pass it really hurts but remember the good times to help you get through the loss. As I was typing this Freddy Mercury was on the television singing “Who wants to live forever?” I wish my cats and dogs could but they live forever in my memories. Thank you all my pets for the love and companionship.

Special Thanks to the Stafford Animal Shelter Livingston Montana (No kill Shelter) where Curly, Liv and my great dog Sally came from.

– Mark Haskins