A Valentine's gift to remember...

By Caroltoo Latest Reply 2012-04-04 11:11:03 -0500
Started 2011-12-15 17:46:07 -0600

When I first moved to Hawaii 20 years ago, I befriended a feral cat from the Kahalu hillside. About six months after I started feeding her, she became pregnant. She gave birth to two female kittens, brought them to my backdoor step with a proud "meow" when their eyes opened, and left them with me when she died a month later of undiagnosed kidney failure.

The two little girls, Elizabeth and Victoria, got their names because they were such dainty and delicate kittens that my husband said they should be named for royalty. They lived long, happy, loving, and much loved lives with us. They were the source of hours of laughter, pranks, and games, as well as contented cuddles and purrs. They helped seven of my foster daughters learn to be more gentle and loving with each other. Pets don't turn there backs on us with ridicule the way people sometimes do.

Victoria became "Boots" named for the Nancy Sinatra hit which included the line "These boots are made for walking and that's just what they'll do…one of these days these boots are going to walk all over you!" because she grew out of dainty, became rather more like big foot, and used to walk from my feet, up my body, to stand on my chest and stare into my eyes until I awakened. Boots was the first to go, dying of lung cancer. She purred in my arms as she exhaled her last loving breath and her eyes grew dim.

Elizabeth used to awaken me in the mornings by lifting my right hand by a gold chain I wear. When she got my hand over her head, she would release it so it would pet her as it slid back to the bed. Two or three tries were all it would take to awaken me enough so I would pet her and she could stop doing the heavy lifting. She lived to age 18 and died in my arms at the vet's when I could not longer bear to see the fear and panic on her face at the feeling of fluid building up in her lungs. It was an autoimmune disorder of some kind.

At that point, I decided I needed a break from pets. The loss just hurt too much. Two weeks later, my husband, who has Alzheimer's, told me he needed another pet because he was so lonely without Elizabeth who used to sit at his feet when I was at work. He said she always looked so loving and stayed so near, even when she no longer had the strength to jump up on his lap. He really missed her.

What could I do? I put him off a week and got myself together, then we went to the Humane Society on Valentine's day. I didn't want a cat who looked like Elizabeth who resembled a lilac point siamese or her sister who was dark gray and white with white boots. I looked around and found a skinny two year old red tiger cat who was hiding under a bench trying hard to not be noticed. I dragged him out from under the bench gently and put him on Wayne's lap. It seemed they would get along ok. We made our donation and got in the car.

Wayne held the cat in his carrier on his lap and scratched his ears all the way home. When we got home, I helped Wayne into his chair, then opened the carrier and turned the cat loose. I expected him to cower or run to hide under the nearest bed. Instead, he looked around, spotted Wayne in the chair and galloped across the livingroom. He jumped on his lap, put one long lanky paw on each shoulder and dropped his head on Wayne's neck. Pippin had found a home and safety. Wayne had found a friend and began to act much less depressed.

Now that Wayne is more incapacitated, Pippin looks to me for care. He is now a big 18 pounds of solid muscle, who thinks he needs a human food schedule, really feels deprived if he doesn't have three meals a day and at least one snack at bedtime. When I am typing around mealtime, he will sit between me and the keyboard until I feed him. When I ignore him, he has a series of annoying tactics he uses in sequence until I give him what he want.

I have come to love this big manipulative four-legged friend. He sleeps on my bed, purrs when he cuddles, loves to be petted and held (all 18 pounds of him). He has been a source of much laughter and joy, as well as annoyance and frustration. In the end, his presence is soothing and calming to me, lowering both BG and BP. I am blessed that we went to the Humane Society that day and found another friend.

Some of us have service animals and can share how those are helpful. Others of us have a variety of creatures either four legged or two winged who share our homes and raise our spirits.

Would you share some of ways your pets help you reduce our stress and bring love and joy into your life?

3 replies

Caroltoo 2012-04-04 11:11:03 -0500 Report

Here's the more complete version of the story that I posted on Nick's discussion yesterday. This tells about Pip's arrival and the two cats we had just lost which is what prompted Wayne to say he needed to have another cat!

Young1s 2011-12-15 19:45:19 -0600 Report

Unfortunately it has been 2 decades since my last kittens, so due to passing of time and my past lifestyle, the moments I have to share come in snippets. I guess my fondest memory is of my very first cat Wilbur, a big faced, fuzzy money cat.

I was about 4 or 5 and my mom and dad had recently seperated, so my mother got my brother and I a cat to ease us through the transition. My brother would have nothing to do with it so I gladly claimed Wilbur as my own. Unlike most cats, Wilbur followed me everywhere, came when called and loved to be picked up and held. It was awesome. One day, Wilbur got out of the house and stayed gone for what seemed like forever. But eventually returned and I had my best friend back. All was right with the world again.

Some time later (can't remember the length of time) Wilbur started acting strange, very aloof towards me. I thought nothing of it and then one morning I woke to the meuws of five little kittens under my bed. All this time we thought She was a He. Couldn't blame my mother because she had never owned a cat before either, so this was just as new and surprising for her as well. We kept the kittens til they were weaned, then gave them all away save one; Baby. Another money with the same face and fuzz like her mother. We only had Baby for a few years, until she got out and was attacked by a neighbors dog, but Wilbur lived to a ripe old age. My mother had a friend that was a really good artist and he gifted us a stenciled drawing that he made of Wilbur and Baby. My mom still has it to this day.

Including Wilbur and Baby I owned 10 cats/kittens officially throughout my childhood/young adulthood. They all have unique stories as to how they were acquired or things that they did. Never owned one I didn't like. As I said, it's been decades since the last and I really miss having kitty companion. Maybe Santa will grant me a new and long overdue furry friend.

jayabee52 2011-12-15 19:13:33 -0600 Report

I had a lot of animals around me on the farm growing up. The beagle, sparky, the basset hound "happy" and his sons, We had assorted farm cats, and dad always had one or two german shorthair bird dogs.

Unfortunately that has not been the pattern for my life in later years. I live alone in a multi story apartment building. Sometimes I am gone from there for long stretches of time (in July of 2011 I was gone from my apt the whole month. In Oct 2011 for 2 weeks. I don't think I would be good for a pet right now. Should I get involved in another relationship and I need to move to be with her,
I don't know how it would work out with a pet.

I am more of a dog person. But my 1st wife and I had a green parakeet we called BB. We got BB direct from the breeder and the bird didn't experience the "pet shop trauma" that other birds would get from their stay in the pet store. We had BB finger trained the next day (he would fly to our extended finger) and we let him fly throughout our home. He'd fly to either of our heads, grab some of our hair flip upside down and say things like "what cha thinking?" and other words he'd heard often in our home. If he wanted something (sometimes only our attention) he'd scream at the top of his lungs BEE BEE BEE BEE!

BB was a clown with wings. He thought he was people. He loved to eat breakfast with us, flying down to the edge of the plate, sampling the eggs or the pancakes or would dip his beak into whatever it was we were drinking (even "adult beverages").

Sometimes BB would have to be put in his cage when visitors came. He would fly and land suddenly on a visitor's head scaring them. Sometime that freaked them out and we had to put him in until they were gone. He didn't like that. He'd scream his name for a while and loudly take us to task In untranslatable budgee speak) from his cage for doing that.

We'd have to put him in the cage more once our firstborn was born. BB was used to having our attention full time, now he had to share our antention with this new little interloper. Once or twice when we first brought Paul home, we heard a flutter of wings and then Paul would scream with pain. That little bird attacked our firstborn! I guess BB was jealous! So we confined him to his cage until he got used to the new situation.

Not everyone loved pets though. We had to give BB up to a elderly neighbor lady who had met BB at our home and loved him. When we had to move from one house to another in the same town we learned they had a no pets policy. So we gave BB, antique cage and all, to our elderly neighbor lady. She got along with BB famously. We would go to visit him occasionally. But when we moved from that town, we couldn't bear to take BB away from her as BB was a lot of company for her, and we had son #2 "in the oven".

As the boys were growing up we had a lot of other animals as pets. Fish, hamsters, white rats, gerbils, and even bunnies. But never another parakeet.

The mother of my sons got a dog for inside the house not long after I moved out. We always had a difference of opinion over where a dog should stay. I grew up with outside dogs she grew up with inside dogs and we could not find a compromise.

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