My Dad’s Dead Cat

My previous post about toilet behaviour was a moment of levity while I pondered a few things personally.

Given the private nature of myself I try to avoid much details of my life beyond my opinions of the political, beer related or free speech/free thought kind.  The most personal posts I’ve done on here relate to dead pets and this one will be no exception; give or take.  That I’ve procrastinated in posting this in order to get my head around things has allowed life to move on a bit and I now write this with a sense of hope.

My mum would have it that “your father has always been afraid to talk to you,” which of itself is a bit ridiculous but I do get what she means.  My dad is a practical soul and I’m, for lack of a better word, an academic.  Conversations between us are mainly me asking him questions or telling him stories in order to engage his interest, in my old science jobs this would require me to save up about a fortnights worth of banal tales all for half an hour of one-sided chit-chat.

This is the inverse to how my dad is with my mum.  On his visits to her in order to use the toilet and nab a free coffee or tea he too will either sit in silence while my mum works around him or follow her around ranting.  I have yet to experience the latter but I get it from other quarters anyway so that is my penance.

“That Erasure, not bad for a couple of poofs,” is the only opinion my dad has really ever expressed unprompted.  This from a man who happily sang along to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  A proper boomer.

However since I started brewing he has shown a very keen interest in all its aspects; including, much like the shopkeeper in Mr. Benn, turning up at my work out of nowhere to just hang around while every so often knocking on stuff with a crooked index finger (a habit I also do, especially with walls in unfamiliar surroundings).

My dad and the male side of his family, have a history of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, etc. but thanks to modern medicine, even a man who once insisted he drove himself to the hospital after a car battery exploded on him (and again when he burnt his hand in a chip pan) has quiet significantly surpassed the age at which his dad died.

It is always odd writing these things, a fear of tempting horrible fate takes hold but life is what it is.

As “luck” would have it, it was again on a forced hospital visit that symptoms my dad simply ignored because he associated them with his health’s history, that something more serious was found but after treatment it seems to have regressed and he can go back to bothering about his blood pressure again.

During that period it was the first but subsequently not the only time I saw my dad tearful.  I wouldn’t say cry, my dad is a person who doesn’t cry.

As a child I recall my dad visibly upset three times.  When his mother died.  When my mum’s mother died.  And when it was announced that Ayrton Senna had died.

His first bout of tears I saw were born of frustration.  Confined to a bed and swamped in the hospital by relatives, including one who’s sole word, to be fair trying to process the whole situation themselves, was “The Christie,” rather than simply telling everyone to fuck off (I’d only just arrived) his emotions came out in the water works.  This cleared the room except for me and him, so we could engage in another hour of tales and elongated comfortable silences.

Later, on the morphine he was proscribed his emotions were even more unpredictable and any tears during this phase I associated with him being off his face.

Truncating this tale to the present and my dad again appears at work.  It was not unexpected, except for his out-of-thin-air appearance, as I’d been forewarned that he’d had to take his cat to the vets.

I knew the drill; carry on working around him, watch him knock on things, answer his random questions and then when the time was right, I’d ask how he was and see if he wanted to talk about it.

The barely disguised tears started as he recounted finding his cat dragging herself around the kitchen floor, a blood clot had paralysed her back legs.  I too had had to deal with a cat in similar circumstances (and a dog too) and it is quite brutal.  To paraphrase George Carlin  “I’ve got half a cat, the front end is perfectly serviceable, it’s just the back end.”

You always feel like you’ve betrayed the pet you take to the vet somehow but you tell yourself, rightly, that there was no quality of life to be had, and we should all be thankful we can at least euthanise our pets.

But sat with him it then occurred to me, given some other things that were happening in his life, this would be the first time my dad would be coming home to an empty house.

We are quite a nuclear family (I’ve just looked up this term, it seems I’ve been using it incorrectly all this time), all the direct members of our clan (bar two) live within a 5-10 mile radius but even in these times of realisation you sometimes can’t change our own nature.  To act out a different set of behaviours based on worry would be noted, commented on and nixed before it even got going.  So we all just revert to type.  So; much like a cat, if my dad wants something then he’ll come to you, you don’t need to continuously approach him unless you are either bringing food, or need to borrow some tools.

You don’t need to worry and you definitely don’t need to fuss.  The fuss will be sought as and when required.

You will worry but that is for you to deal with.

I did raise the subject of getting another cat but he just didn’t feel like it.  Emotions being raw.  I could call his home phone but he seldom answers it.  I could try and call his newly sim-carded mobile but it is always switched off.  I wait.

He is going to be looking after guide dogs.

Well, that is his plan.  His plan, that he came to all by himself.

When my mum lost one of her dogs, she got 15 cats to replace him (she is the quintessential crazy cat lady, plus I always feel she got them to deter my dad from visiting too often given his allergies).  When my dad loses his cat he will now look after dogs.  Dogs, the first time he’s going to have one in his house since he lost his only other previous dog some near forty years ago.

Catharsis for all.

 

Thanks for reading.

Cats, Lifestyle and Snowflakes

Oddly it is two years to the day that I wrote this piece as I had just lost my cat Izzy (who the vets insisted on labelling as Issie).  Now I find myself writing an ode to his son, Jones.

Both Izzy and Jones came into my house pretty much as soon as I’d moved in which is approximately 10 years ago and where as Izzy was a normal cat, in as much as the descriptor normal can be applied to a cat, it was quite clear that Jones would be an altogether different sort of normal.

It is fitting that he Jones died two years to the day that his dad did.  Looking over their “birth” certificates there were born 2 years apart and both died just after the age of 16.

Yesterday evening was like any other evening, the bowl of a hurriedly eaten breakfast was being transported down the stairs while I was trying not to break my neck tripping over Jones as he weaved in front of me, stopping to make sure I was following him and it wasn’t just a ruse and that quite possibly he was finally going to get fed.

Jones was a bottomless pit when it came to food, he would happily eat until he was sick (and then eat that) or it would come firing out of the other end in every conceivable location around the house.  He couldn’t have milk because this too would cause the release of equally noxious liquids, so there was a finite amount that I could feed him that would keep him going to his cat box regularly and with good consistency and that would also, vaguely, fulfill his appetite.

Jones is a cat that whenever I was in the kitchen he was expecting food.  He couldn’t remain asleep in his bed (or wherever he was sleeping) for fear that he may be missing out.  When he realised food wasn’t forth coming he’d make a point of either drinking water loudly (yes, loudly) or licking his bowl for the last few bits of dried morsels that might be left from his last meal.  I was going to do a blog about things that cats won’t eat if they fall on the floor but it would only consist of onions, garlic and bread with chilli sauce on it.

I fed him as usual, then stepped out for about 20 minutes and returned to find him on the floor, being sniffed at by our other cat.  He regularly slept on the floor but that fact that there was no reaction, either to the sniffing Missy or that fact that I might be bringing him yet more food instantly rang alarm bells.

Then came the hail, the thunder, the lightning.

He is now buried in the April snow.

But it was last night when I was going to bed that I realised all the habits I’d developed because of this cat.  The sofa seats could stay down as he wouldn’t be around to pee on them.  He only ever weed on the settee, never “his” chair, I found that out in his first weeks in the house.

I could shut the door to the living room and my bedroom, to keep some heat in.

I can probably leave things on the floor, or things can fall on the floor and now not be targets for the biggest flood of urine I’ve never experience before or since.

I cleaned the cat box and it wasn’t automatically used straight away.

I can give Missy a bit more food, which she can leave and return to, and she can even have some milk.

I won’t have to watch any food I’m eating for errant paws being stuck onto my plate like the intro sausage off Grange Hill.

I might make it from upstairs to the kitchen in one smooth, non-delayed motion.

I wasn’t woken up before my alarm.

I was actually spread out in bed rather than hanging over the edge.

 

He wasn’t waiting outside my bedroom door this morning and he won’t be there to greet me when I get home.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.
Jones (left) and Izzy (right). Sleep Well.