Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bad Kitty

I woke up this morning to Conor Oberst’s song “I Don’t Want to Die in the Hospital.” This would be an amazing, significant coincidence if it were on a clock radio, not a CD that I’d cued up myself a few hours earlier. Instead, it’s just significant.

Our oldest cat died in her sleep the night before last. Fiona. Fiona the Terrible, the one with the “Bad Kitty” pendant dangling from her collar like a combat medal from her own personal war with the world. The cat who lived 12 years with me describing her as a stroke waiting to happen and one moment letting me be right for once.

I don’t think Fiona hated the world as much as she felt a need to control it, and lacking opposable thumbs, language or a business degree, did what she could with hissing, spitting, growling and swatting. If it didn’t gain her control – other pets and guests were forever taking it as an invitation to tease, which, in turn, was my invitation to be ready the next 24 hours with the paper towels and Urine-Off – it seemed to give her a measure of satisfaction. Real control came when the house emptied and she settled down and turned into a purring, affectionate, even loving Dr. Jekyll with just enough Hyde to remember the physics of two solids occupying the same space at the same time. The control that she never achieved via tantrum was hers to be had through kindness, robbing the bed, the chair at the drawing board, the newspaper on the table, of their most useful real estate and equally excising our desire to move her and enjoy any measure of comfort or efficiency or control of our own.

There’s probably a lesson there, but not one that any of us ought to be learning. The better lesson is not one of how she gained control, but that she seemed to need it so badly and then threw a clot when she was roughly the cat equivalent of my own age.

She did maintain one crucial, final measure of autonomy. She hated her veterinarian along with the rest of the world, and she didn’t die in the hospital.

Me, I’ve finally got control of my drawing-board chair. My emotions, not so much. 24 hours out, and I miss the little shit terribly.


Jacqueline Haney said...

So sorry to hear. Calicos seem to have such extreme personalities. It's always so hard to lose a cat, particularly because others often don't realize they are really just short people who wear fur.

Jesse said...

Terribly sorry for your loss jef. My family had two little, we called them "differently abled" Dachshund crosses. One had to be put down at 14 1/2 and one made it all the way to almost 17. I remain convinced that if not for muscle memory reminding him how to walk Nicky wouldn't have made it near that long.

Regardless of what we call our pets, it's still amazingly tough to loose one, so my thoughts are with you.

Jeanie said...

Jef and Patty, I'm so sorry to hear about Fiona. Good kitty or bad kitty, they hold a huge place in our hearts and saying goodbye -- especially after such a long while -- can be hard indeed. I'm glad she didn't have to deal with vets, etc., either. I just wish you two didn't have to deal with the loss of a treasured friend -- quirks and all. Warm wishes for the new year.

Tim said...

So sorry to hear of your loss, Jef. My condolences.

Robin said...

I think you were her favorite, and occasionally I was an acceptable substitute. Still, I consider myself fortunate to have seen the "rub my chin while I purr and knead on you" side of your beautiful, multiple personality kitty. I'm sure not everyone outside your family did. Another furry face that I will miss.

Jim Smith II said...

Jef - Sorry to hear that. Pets are with us for such a short time but add so much to our lives. Our thoughts are with you and Patty.

veloben said...

Jef, a friend's Lab, which my family is very attached, to surrently going through what the grandparents would cal a bad stretch. It is amazing how embedded a cat or dog, especially those who demonstrate a real personality (good, bad, weird), can be in your sense of the world and self.

May the New Year shine brighter as the days get longer.

Liz said...

Awww. My sympathies. I hope she's gone to a lovely sunny place with lots of soft cushions and small critters to chase.