Wednesday, March 6

2013 CDP Cat Update.

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It's become sort of a hack comedy bit, but I've never understood how Radio Shack could stay in business considering their inventory. My joke was that their revenue consisted of nothing but lamp cord and speaker wire, yet there was a location no more than 20 minutes away from anyone in America.

When I woke up from bed last week, I had become the karmic butt of my own joke, as I noticed that my newest cat, Faye, had chewed her way through nearly every piece of wire and string in the house. Two of the vertical blind strings were ruined. Two of the cords for my electronic drum set were chewed through. Most ironically, she had shredded one of my speaker wires, which meant I was hours away from doing my part to keep Radio Shack in business for yet another baffling day.

Maybe it's cats, not people, that keep Radio Shack in business. Just a thought. At this point, I'm spitballing anything that even remotely makes sense.

While Faye has a tendency to chew on stuff (she will eventually be electrocuted, which should put an end to such behavior), this was an unprecedented act of defiance. Furthermore, when I went downstairs, I saw that a potted plant had been overturned and there was blood on the linoleum. An outstanding way to start the day if I ever saw one. I nearly took the day off.

Eventually, I pieced everything together. My oldest cat, Gabe, has a recurring kidney problem (he's prone to stones and blockages), and unfortunately suffered a flare-up that had him peeing blood everywhere (the box hurts too much when you have a UTI, so you tend to go on cooler surfaces). This change in Gabe's attitude sent my other two, typically well-behaved cats (Faye and Rory) on a massive freakout rampage. It was a sympathy tantrum, and while I felt bad for all involved, I briefly entertained the notion of throwing them all into the Nature Preserve for the coyotes to deal with. These things never fix themselves.

Gabe gets sick every couple years (he's crazy old, even for a Siamese), and it always arrives at the most inopportune fiscal time. This time, he decided to suffer an expensive UTI mere minutes after our tax refund came back, money we were planning on using to buy a new car (jury's still out on that). However, the bulk of the new car money instead went straight into Gabe's wiener in the form of pills, blood tests and biopsy results.

As a pet owner, this is how you live. You give as much attention as you can while extracting as much love as possible, because when the end arrives, it's going to be sad and expensive. Cats generally don't even have the kindness to die suddenly; most of what I've had to deal with are slow, drawn-out illnesses that end in the middle of the night once your checkbook and sanity have been thoroughly tapped.

Most everyone will tell you it's worth it, though.

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(Andromeda - RIP)

Several months ago, we had to put down Andromeda, our female Birman (and retired champion show cat), after she contracted a fatal genetic disease that we discovered had a 100% mortality rate. Andromeda was a sweetheart to the Missus and I, but she was quite the bully to our Siamese males, who simply couldn't understand how someone couldn't like them (Siamese are the most emo of cat breeds). She clearly came into the house as the Alpha Cat, and ruled the roost with an iron paw (she also was not declawed, which meant she had an advantage in every skirmish).

While I don't necessarily endorse buying cats from a breeder (the local shelter needs your business much more), Celia wanted a Birman, so away we went. This cat's pedigree and popularity was ridiculous; she had more trophies and ribbons than anything I've accumulated in my life. In fact, she nearly had a larger web presence than me (there were many websites that mentioned this cat by name).

She bonded instantly with the Missus, who took it pretty hard when she fell ill. However, it was amazing to see the personality change once she wasn't around. Gabe and Rory acted like a weight was lifted from them, and they could once again be as playful and personable as they wanted. We both definitely miss Andromeda, but we were happy to provide her with a happy and comfortable retirement from the weird, weird and unbelievably weird world of professional cat shows.

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(Rory. 6-7 years old. A distinguished gentleman.)

Rory is initially skittish around loud noises, sudden movements and people that are going to give him a hard time, but once he warms up to you, he's as sweet and clingy as any cat I've ever owned. He's a big, beautiful boy that has since settled into his own as the official greeter of the household.

When we first adopted him, I was extremely opposed to the idea of having three cats in the house. But shit, look at him! As soon as his previous owner brought him out for me to see, I exhaled deeply and grumbled to nobody in particular as I went outside to get the cat carrier that would eventually transport him to my house. Jerk.

Seal point Siamese cats (and Siamese cats in general) are among my most favorite breeds, not just because they look amazing, but their temperament is phenomenal. They show (and retain) emotion, and their vocabulary is incredibly deep for any animal. They have so many different 'meows,' for when they're playful, angry, hungry, lonely...it's really an amazing thing when you start to pick up on the language of an intelligent cat. They're communicating with you in a way that most don't realize is possible with a feline.

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(Gabe. At least 13 years old. The official ambassador of the Zeinert household.)

Gabe is old school. Literally, he's like a billion years old. Doesn't have many teeth left and has been to the vet more times than I can count, but he's currently healthy and happy, which is all that really matters when you own a pet. Believe me, I know the difference between keeping an animal alive for selfish reasons versus quality of life reasons, and Gabe is extremely happy 24 hours a day. Not only has he never bit or hissed at anyone ever, but he's never even thrown up. I honestly didn't think that was possible for any feline (Rory throws up every other day), but he's anything if not surprising.

If I had to wish perpetual sickness on any of my animals (weird predicament, I know), it would have to be Gabe, if only for how well he handles it. Rory would have a nervous breakdown and hide for weeks. Faye would bite every hand that came near her. Gabe, on the other hand, doesn't hold grudges. We've had to do some terrible things to him for the sake of his health, and he'll be back to snuggling with us just a few hours later. There's also a slight chance he might be the eternal second coming of Jesus Christ, but we'll see how that plays out.

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(Faye. 3 years old. The reckless, hotshot rookie.)

We adopted Faye a month after losing Andromeda, as the Missus wanted to have at least one female cat in the house (that was an awesome argument). The bizarre thing about Faye is that, for all her unique markings and mannerisms, she looks almost identical to the first cat we ever owned, a female Siamese mix named Tinker:

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(Tinker - RIP)

We had no idea that Faye looked like Tinker until the day we came to look at her. It was like seeing a ghost; she was ours the very next day. Faye is the youngest cat I've owned as an adult, and I sort of forgot that they need to played with constantly, or else they'll find more reckless ways to entertain themselves (ie: cord-chewing).

Most importantly, Faye's relationship with Gabe and Rory is awesome. It's not an alpha mentality, it's a pack mentality. They're all seemingly friendly on the same level, playing without fighting and sharing space without conflict. They're all best buds, apparently, which was an unlikely stroke of good fortune for yours truly.

So, a few weeks after a barrage of medication, Gabe appears to be back to normal. The cord-chewing and plant-uprooting has ceased for the time being, if only because I've hidden almost all of them from Faye. My trip to Radio Shack/Guitar Center to replace my speaker/drum cords was about as pleasant as a root canal, but hey, everything's status quo for another few weeks.

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(A dog I saw at a parade once.)

Nothing wrong with that when you have cats.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Comments:
For further evidence of how much Tinker looks like Faye, I didn't know that second photo was Tinker until I read the caption. I thought for certain it was Faye.
 
Also, a photo with a Spotted Cow, Chuck Klosterman book, and a cat...could you BE a bigger hipster? haha
 
My friends have had cats as long as they've been together, including when we were all housemates in college over ten years ago. One cat in particular is simply an asshole. He has to be around 12-13 years old now and up until this past summer he was getting more difficult with each passing year. Back in college he was just annoying in the way cats are when they knock over glasses and decide to play with plastic bags at 2:00 AM. As he grew older and fatter he developed a penchant for defecating in the corners of their living room and urinating in shoes and houseplants. He also desperately wanted to go outside, mewling incessantly at the patio door until one of my friends would toss him into the basement. Both were certain that if let out he'd run off or get hit in the road and even after everything they both loved the little bastard too much to contemplate allowing that to happen. They built him an outdoor pen I dubbed CatJail but he'd find ways to climb out and escape. Finally this summer they decided to let him outside unsupervised. He became so much better mannered, lost weight, never left the yard and always came in around sunset. They still have to keep foil and paprika in the corners though - one step at a time.
 
CELIA - I know. And there are other photos where it's even more uncanny. So weird, considering how unique we thought Tinker looked when we got her.

Oh, and I didn't stage that photo, I just wanted a cool shot of Andromeda. It's shameful, I know.
 
WALLROCK - Wow, I did not expect that story to have a happy ending; thanks for sharing. Question: Is this cat fixed?
 
The frequency of my friend's threats to kill the cat with a hammer has certainly decreased - that has count as a happy ending. Yeah, he was neutered when my buddy got him back in high school. He's quite submissive to the other female cat they've got despite being about 50% larger, and I recall him being the same way with their previous cat (also female). Maybe that has something to do with it.

He's still an asshole to be sure. On Sunday I stopped over as we were going to the basketball game. I'd hung my coat on the back of a chair and after ten minutes he sauntered over and pulled it down. He probably is getting back at me for all the times I drunkenly chased him around our apartment back in college.
 
That's hilarious. I sort of like it when cats do things that veer into inarguable bully territory. My cousin had a cat that would wrap his tail around any glass you left out and knock it clean over. Seemingly just for the hell of it.
 
Gabe looks like a goddamn ANGEL in that picture. It's adorable.
 
Wallrock, that sounds a lot like my 8-9 year old asshole of a cat. We found her as a stray kitten and made the decision when she was still young to have her declawed (something I will never do to another cat ever, and advise people against at every opportunity). She has been a "indoor only" cat since, and lived in misery. She would paw at things ALL NIGHT, like she wanted something, then run and hide until I would lay back down to go to sleep. Then it was back to pawing again. And she had the worst attitude of any cat I've had. She doesn't like anyone walking within a foot of her personal space. She'll growl and swat at you, then run and hide. But sometimes she can be very lovable, so it's hard to gauge her mood. Last year, tried of never getting any sleep because the cat was keeping me up, I let her out in the fenced-in back yard. That was it. That was what she wanted, that whole time - the opportunity to go outside and sit on the pool deck in the sunshine. My other cat won't go out there by himself. He panics and wants to go right back in if he even thinks he outside alone. Cats are...special. I guess that's the only way I can think to put it. :)
 
CELIA - Most photos of Gabe look that way. He's quite photogenic.
 
B - Awesome. Yeah, it's impossible to categorize cats with one or two terms. I've had such good luck with mine, yet I know there are a lot out there that are going to be a disaster for any family they end up with.
 

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