Sunday, December 31, 2006

Val & Cleofatra & 2006

Here's Valentine in happier days looking at Cleofatra. (The background was an ancient concrete wall in the basement.) We lost Cleo (aka "Yo Fatso") early in the year. She was almost 16.

She and her sibs were born on my bed. Waking up in the morning to squeaking down by my feet! Beautiful kittens. Their mother was Kate, who had been abandoned half-grown at a local park. We were there the last weekend of the season. She spent the evening going around to the campfires and sitting on laps. I was going to take her home and try to get her adopted. But by the time I got to the truck, holding her, she had a name.

I kept 2 of the kittens, Ariel and Miranda. Miranda used to sit outside the window and toss her head in an imperious way, asking to come in. She looked like an Egyptian cat. So she became Cleopatra Miranda. When the kittens got old enough, I locked them inside until I could get each of them fixed. She instantly became fat, and I thought "Too late". But it was just inactivity. By the time I figured out she wasn't pregnant, she was going into heat every other week. By the time she could finally go out, she was permanently fat and timid from being kept in so long. (Cleofatra was a Garfield joke.)

When she started losing weight, I didn't think of it as something wrong — she seemed healthier, and happy. But then she got very skinny. The vet didn't figure out what was really wrong, she just went down very suddenly at the end.

Then last summer Cheesecake lost a lot of weight — I could feel all his vertebrae, although with all that long fur he didn't look too different. I started giving him canned cat food, and he picked up again. Just a week or so ago I noticed he seemed all recovered. No backbone knobs. Thick pretty fur. Happy and healthy. Sleeping on the bed and kneading the covers and purring at my face, like when he and Miranda and Ariel and Fussy were kittens, having a purring fest.

When Valentine, who was young, started losing weight, I thought for too long that it could be fixed with better food. Now, just a week after losing her, Cheesecake is suddenly very sick.*

2:20 AM Jan 1, 2007 The coyotes are howling in the orchard. Happy New Year.

*I think Cheesecake had an early dose of that poisonous cat-food ingredient from China, before the news was out. Luckily he survived, but he was never as healthy again.

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