13 July 2006

The Ballad Of C.T.

I've got some sad news -- one of my cats, C.T., died today. He'd been having seizures for the past year or two; they'd been increasing, and the past week, they'd been near constant; on Monday, he'd had four or five, same with Tuesday, when he had one at the top of the basement stairs and fell down (when Dad ran to see him, he wasn't moving, and Dad thought he'd killed himself; he was just stunned, though), and yesterday, he'd had the same amount, and fallen off the bed. Previously, during bad spells, he'd have about one every other day, for a few days, maybe a week, and then he'd be good for a while. He also hadn't been eating for the past two days.

(more in the complete post)

We've had C.T. for a long time -- about 12 years. Mom figured out that he was about 18-20 when he died, since he spent 12 years with us, about 2 or 3 years as a stray, and about 5 or 6 in the house at the opposite corner of this block, who had gotten him as a kitten.

This part of the story is very sad; the people who originally got him were terrible people. Some of the worst kind of people. The reason we called him C.T. comes from his days as a neighborhood cat -- he was "That Crooked Tailed Cat"; his owners thought it was great fun to slam his tail in the door, and as such it was broken in 3 places. They'd also beat him and find new and innovative ways to abuse him. When they moved, they just abandoned him.

C.T. was one of the strongest cats I'd ever known - he was incredibly muscular. At first, C.T. was the really strong, mean cat who would beat up our cats -- but as we got to know him, we knew how gentle he truly was. Mom spent a lot of time getting C.T. to trust her, and, well, any people. After all, all the people he'd known had thought it was funny to break his bones. One of her favorite stories was when she was talking with my grandfather about how she felt she was really making strides in getting close to C.T. -- she'd said she'd been able to pet him. She offered to show Grandpa, and they went outside, and Mom had a can of cat food for him, and reached down to pet him... and he got scared and clawed her a good one; Grandpa howled in laughter.

Of course, it was shortly after this that C.T. got enough trust to move in with us. For a long time, my parents were the only ones he trusted. He kind of trusted me, but it was warily. I think his main problem with me was that I brought other people home who were loud and he wasn't sure what to make of that -- of course, we had no intention of EVER doing ANYTHING to harm him, but at the time he didn't know that. Whenever anyone came over, he'd run and hide.

Finally, he got used to other people, and in his last 5 years or so, he was actually a bit of a social butterfly; he still had moments where he'd get really anxious, and might run away kind of skittishly and worry that Something Bad would happen (that, of course, never came), but for the most part, he had finally grown used to and comfortable around people. That was a big step forward for him, and a lot of people realized that (particularly since they'd inevitably ask about his tail, and so they'd get the whole story) and really encouraged him. I know that C.T. felt loved, because he was. And that's one thing that I'm very glad for in his life.

He was also one of the smartest cats I've ever known -- he really understood a lot; he knew, almost innately, that I've got hypersensitivity to pain, and I always have -- and he would ALWAYS be very, very gentle with me, never scratching, and when he play-bit, it was always very light. With Dad, he knew that not only did he have the proper number of nerve cells, but also that his skin was rougher and calloused, so he could be rougher without worrying about hurting him (though, occasionally, C.T. would, accidentally, be too rough with Dad, but then immediately would act ashamed and sorry).

When he was happy, he would wag his tail -- it wouldn't be a standard cat's tail waving, mainly because he couldn't, but instead, his tail would vibrate rapidly back and forth over a small span; I think this was due to his abuse (which also resulted in his back and legs being sore and painful as well), but it was pretty cute anyway.

He was also overly conscious of making a faux pas; he'd always defer to our other cats since they'd been there first, and he was just grateful for a home. They'd occasionally pick fights with C.T., and he'd just take it... even though he could have cleaned their clocks handily. Sometimes we'd even tell him he could without fear of reprisal from us, but he'd never take us up on it, though he'd occasionally get into friendly-antagonism matches with Henry; speaking of which, Henry's been wandering around all day looking for C.T., wondering where he is, and wondering why they haven't gotten to antagonize each other today.

Strangely, as my parents started watching Rodeos again on TV, C.T. really enjoyed watching them as well, and playing as if he was a Bull as well. This morning, when he refused to eat the Turkey we'd given him (Turkey was his favorite food, but also, sadly, a food he was allergic to), to make up for it, they showed him some of the Bulls on the official Rodeo Website, and that really perked him up; so, I suppose if he didn't get or want an actual last meal, he got something similar. C.T. also loved to watch the raccoons that would come on our deck that we'd feed. We joked that he had a crush on the mother raccoon who would come to our deck both with her babies and without to get away from same. He would watch her with rapt attention, and then, during the day when she wasn't out there, drink from the tub she bathed in. (I'm not sure what allure filthy raccoon water had for him, but why deny him one of life's many joys?)

It's one of those things where I am very sorry for all the abuse he had to suffer early on, and I wish we would have been able to afford the resetting of his tail and ribs and other broken bones to perhaps stop his day-to-day pain. Although there's nothing I could do to stop the abuse, or help him earlier. I'm glad that he got to know a house of true love, which we all gave him, as did everyone who came in did as well. C.T. is a wonderful cat, one of the best I've ever known. I will miss him greatly, and do now. He was one of the smartest, most loving and giving cats I've ever known.

I love you, C.T.



Anonymous gillian said...

My condolences for the loss of your cat. That was a heartwarming story. I'm so glad he was able to find a good home in the end.

7:24 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger Lee H. said...

Aw, dude, I am so sorry... :( Losing a cat, especially a good cat, after that length of time is like losing a family member. Well hell, it IS losing a family member.

What an amazing thing that C.T. found you and your family- nothing ever "makes up" for abuse, but wow, it sounds like y'all were the tailor-made "perfect family" to find this guy and give him a life that, overall, was happy. Good for all of you.

I'm impressed at how long he lived- that's Methuselah kinda old, and usually cats that have a bad start to their life don't make it to half that age. Y'all should be proud that you helped him live to the human equivalent of old geezerdom. :)

I know you'll miss him, bud... that part just sucks, and always will. *hug*

9:03 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Thanks, both of you... I think that we did all right by him. I wish we could have done more, but I think he had a good bulk-of-his-life, which is good, and I'm glad that we could have been there for him. It's pretty amazing he lived as long as he did, though, which is cool, because he definitely deserved to have a good home. (I think I might be gettin' a little incoherent here, so I'm gonna stop.)


9:20 PM, July 13, 2006  
Anonymous J.P. said...

A well said eulogy, my friend.
I'm sorry for your loss.

10:52 PM, July 13, 2006  
Blogger CatsFive said...

Also well said, and Lee, since you have lost a cat who as I well know (having offended her many times) was a total part of the family... you said it best. Mike, sorry for the loss, man. I have a 16 year old too who (knock wood) is in good health, but... he's old, so... so, I feel your pain...

12:47 AM, July 14, 2006  

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