To The Dudeliest Dude, With Love   2 comments

My 17-year-old tomcat is hospitalized right now.  His hyperthyroid condition is being treated and hopefully cured with an injection of the radioisotope, Iodine 131.  He received this small amount of I-131 on Thursday under the skin between his shoulder blades, in similar fashion to a routine vaccination.  Now he has to remain quarantined until his level of radioactivity drops to a negligible amount.  He can then be sent home.  This may happen as early as tomorrow.  95% of the hyperthyroid cats receiving this treatment have normal thyroid hormone levels after three months and go on to live the rest of their lives free from medication for this disease.  They also have an improved prognosis over cats treated by other methods.

I miss my Bubba-cat.  It’s been hard having him away from home and confined to a kennel.  I’ve been able to watch him on webcam at the clinic, and my heart swells everytime I tune in to view him.  He’s such a lovely cat, such a beautiful being!

I have an admission to make, one that has always embarrassed me when I recall this incident.  As I’ve written about in the past, Bubba and his sister, Katie, were feral kittens born under a neighbor’s porch.  I spent months trying to earn these kittens’ trust, enough for them to let me close and eventually get them into the house without resorting to any trapping or force.  The truth of the matter is that I had immediately fallen in love with the little calico, Katie.  I always told her, “I loved you the very first time I saw you….” and nothing could be more true.  But here’s the embarrassing admission: I didn’t know what I was going to do about that little white guy with the black tail and ears.  I wasn’t sold about turning him into a housecat.

I had some odd ideas at that time when he was three or four months old.  (We didn’t even know that he was a “he” yet, but we always called him that.) I had images of him being a hellion in the house.  I had watched him around our yard, killing birds and eating them when he was only a few months old.  I watched him climb trees as a small kitten, seeing how far out on a limb he could go.  He was always first in line for the food dish, nosing his mom and his sister aside in an effort to get his share.  For some reason, I just couldn’t see this feral kitten as my pet.  I could envision bringing him into the house, only to have him shred the drapery, spray urine on my couch, poop on the dining room floor and claw up the oak woodwork.  (I don’t believe in declawing a cat.)  I didn’t think I was up for that!

On the other hand, I didn’t envision petite Katie being any sort of problem and was anxious to give her a home.  She was the one I had really worked on befriending.  I began to make some noticeable progress when they were about 4-and-a-half months old.  One evening, I invited Katie into the house and fed her there.  I then allowed her to spend the night indoors.  This was a warm August night, and the little white guy remained outside.

The following morning, I let Katie back outside.  Her sibling, assumed to be a brother, was waiting for her.  When I opened the front door onto the porch, he was on the brick ledge that ran as high as under the first floor windows, parked right by that door.  He reached out with a paw and batted at the doorknob.  He turned his face up to me and gave me a very soft meow, his eyes containing a look of pain and bewilderment.  (Yes, cats have emotions and the facial expressions often tell the story!)  He had probably sat there on the porch most of the night, wondering why I had taken Katie into the house but made him stay outside without her.

It broke my heart.  That little paw to the doorknob, saying he knew exactly where she had been — and where he hadn’t been allowed.  The hurt amber eyes that told his misery and loneliness.   The soft, pleading meow.  I felt just horrible, and I had every reason to!

That evening, I allowed Katie into the house again, and her sibling, quite a bit bigger than she was, came along inside, too.  They had their supper together.  They played hide-and-seek under the recliner chair in the living room.  They lounged on the furniture.  I decided to let them both back outside that evening, but before they left, they both took turns using my elderly cat, Mandy’s, litterbox.  Without ever having seen one, they both seemed to intuit what that was for.  (Of course, Mandy’s scent was in it.)

It may have even been the next evening that they both spent the night indoors — without incident.  My fears about the little white guy (who did indeed prove to be a boy) were completely unfounded as time went on.  He never clawed a piece of furniture.  He never sprayed on anything (except for occasionally the walls around the litterbox onto which I put absorbent, disposable pads.)  He never caterwauled to be let out.  In a nutshell, he was as good as gold: well-behaved, affectionate, easy to get along with, very easy to love.  In contrast, Kate was high-strung, mistrustful, willful, skittish, and a hard cat ultimately to like all the time.  It took me months to be able to pet her without her flinching and perhaps bolting, and I never could hold her.  I had made some unfounded judgments early on as to what these kittens might be like, and I had it completely ass-backwards!

Bubba has been a cherished and beloved member of our family now for 17 years.  I would go to the mat for that boy!  I hope he knows that.  I hope that he never, ever remembers that lonely summer night on the porch in South Minneapolis and what that ignorant lady did.

Love to you always, Buddy.  You’ll always be the dudeliest of the dudely dudes!


Posted July 16, 2011 by StPaulieGrrl in cats

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2 responses to “To The Dudeliest Dude, With Love

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  1. I’m afraid I can’t comment right now; I’m too emotional. But there’s so much I Want to say…I love to hear of people and their furry pals! I think there have been animals in my life that I’ve liked and loved more than most of the people I knew. I feel you. I hear you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It’s good to have friends who share my love of the furry and feathered beings on this Earth. I treasure those beings and respect them. Like you, I’ve been closer to those non-human beings and like them more than some humans I’ve known. Thank you for sharing a part of my journey.

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