Clawed, an elderly tortoise shell cat was born in Texas had a Texas sized purr. But as another male, he and DC fought for their territory. Everything, even the litter boxes were up for grabs. Sadly, Clawed died after about six months with us. Meanwhile Ashley began a rivalrous relationship with Little One that continues to this day. Little One, who had been abused in a home previous to the one she shared with my Lutheran friend, all too readily ceded power to the reigning Queen, Ashley.
But DC was the center of things. The day after Clawed died, DC began a different phase of his relationship with us. Instead of a mischievous cat, he became the "elder states cat". He sat with us on the couch, when my husband returned from work--naturally, as he was the center of the universe, he sat between us. He changed from soulfully looking at me when I was having yoghurt, to demanding yoghurt or ice cream as his due. He frequently asked for kitty treats, the only of our feline four to do so.
DC also appeared to be in charge of play, for the kitty toys, stored neatly in the basket at night would be scattered by morning, and he would plaintively howl when he sat on them... something which I learned was an expression of kitty ecstasy. We never were certain which of the cats brought the toys upstairs at night, leaving the prizes by my bed. But when he died and the toys stopped we learned that indeed it had been DC who was bringing things to his "Mom".
But DC was beginning to wear out. His arthritis was becoming a greater issue. And he began to lose weight. Sometimes, he spit up. Always a voracious eater, his appetite became picky. We tried him on different cat foods, and yes, I confess that we tried to tempt him with shredded pieces of chicken, or his favorite, "tuna juice", the water drained from the can when I made tuna sandwiches. From time to time he still ate his dry kibble, but it was clear to me that he was not doing well. Eventually, our wonderful Veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Machell of the North Oakville Animal Hospital assisted us in what was a difficult decision to make. And so it was on Monday in Holy Week, that DC, our "test child" who coincidentally was acquired the same week that I became pregnant with our daughter, left our family.
Hi ashes will be spread near our front door, to mark one of his contributions to our family as our "door cat" and guardian.
It is lonely without DC's face at the door when we return home. I miss him at meals, too. (I confess that he regularly had "cat coffee" with us in the morning (really a teaspoon of milk in a green bowl). If his bowl didn't appear, there would be pleading and insistent eyes that would remind me of my failure as a cat servant. (Cats aren't "owned", the saying goes, they have "staff")
Perhaps it was the death of a dog, who was in the life of a member of the parish that I now serve as Interim, the Church of the Epiphany, which coincided with DC's that started me thinking about how are pets are markers of times in our life. DC "knew" three other cats in our household, and he had "known" Barkley the Wonder Spaniel, who had belonged to my parents. (Barkley was the last pet that my Father had, and in his last hospitalization, my Dad was very sad about the possibility that he would never see Barkley again. Barkley, for his part, responded to my Dad's absence by developing colitis. And the night before my Dad died, had howled at three in the morning, a behaviour that he hadn't exhibited during the four weeks of my Dad's absence from our home while hospitalized.)...
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