Friday, November 30, 2007

All About Oscar...

Hello again, Oscar here, and I’ve been lounging in my kitty tree all day. I thought I saw my brother Gerald’s ghost a couple nights ago when a neighborhood kitty came by our window, but it was just Banjo, or at least that’s the name we give him because we don’t know what other people call him. You remember on one of my previous blogs I mentioned Gauguin/Tiberius who was another ginger kitty who used to walk around outside our window but he passed away about two years ago, but then another kitty started coming around and we called him Banjo:

and as you can see he’s what we call a “longhair orange marmalade” kitty whereas Gerald was technically a “shorthair yellow tabby” and Gauguin was also a yellow tabby, so if you ask me, there are far too many ginger cats in this neighborhood and not enough black ones! And because of that fact, I thought I’d devote today’s blog to all the things you don’t know yet about me, Oscar the black kitty.

Did you know that I’m polydactylic? I think that makes me sounds like some kind of dinosaur that flies, but what it really means is that I have extra toes on my front paws, which means I have “mitten paws,” so Gerald used to say that I had big feet which is why I play the feather toy so well since I have a super strong grip on things if I use my thumb. So here’s a picture of mitten paws:

And here’s a picture of me playing feather toy today, although for some reason the camera made me look like a devil cat:

And did you know that I’m technically a “medium hair” kitty? Gerald was a shorthair yellow tabby, and my friend Banjo outdoors is a longhair kitty, but I have “medium hair” which means it’s not long enough to look like I have a moustache, but it is fluffy enough that I shed a lot and when Daddy brushes my fur he manages to take a lot off me. And Uncle Kevin says that he’s always thought my fur was some of the silkiest fur of any kitty he’s known and that was a nice thing for him to say since he knows I’m very vain. And my hair sheds so much in the summer that Daddy sometimes has to feed me cat laxative to make sure that when I groom myself, the hair doesn’t get stuck in my tummy, and I love the taste of the laxative because it tastes just like honey, but Gerald never liked it and Daddy would put globs of laxative on Gerald’s chin or on the roof of his mouth or even on his leg so Gerald would have to lick it off, and of course Gerald always felt so humiliated.

And did you know that I can see in the dark? Actually, all cats have superior night vision, but many are the times when Daddy would wake up in the middle of the night to use the potty and he’d leave the lights off and he’d see me batting something on the floor and he’d ask me, “What are you playing with?” and Daddy would look and look and he couldn’t see anything so he’d turn on the lights and he’d see that I was playing with the tiniest little bug and Daddy would shake his head and wonder how I could possibly see something like that in the dark, but Daddy doesn’t understand that God gave us kitties extra-special vision at night time so we can drive away all the evil spirits and welcome all the angels that come by our house at night.

And I think I told you a few blogs ago about my teeth and how the kitty doctor removed two of my teeth about five weeks ago, but here’s a picture of what my teeth looked before they got removed, and wasn’t my left canine tooth beautiful?

And did you know that Gerald and I are very different lap cats? Even though we both love to sit in people’s laps, Gerald liked to sit on round soft tummies like the Kevin Pillow, and sometimes people would hold him in the crook of their arm lying on his back, so he looked like a little kitten again, and when he was happy he would purr and drool, and many times he drenched the Kevin Pillow in his drool, and if he was especially happy he would nuzzle his nose or the side of his cheeks against the person’s chin, or he would lick and gently bite Uncle Kevin’s beard like this:

But I’m different, and I like to sit on people’s thighs, or on Uncle Kevin’s chest, so I prefer a harder surface to cuddle on, and when I’m happy I knead things with my paws, and even if my paws aren’t touching anything, my little kitty toes will still stretch and wiggle because I’m so happy, and I don’t usually drool or bite things, but I do purr and I wag my tail sometimes.

And did you know that I can sleep with my eyes partly open? That’s another thing that Gerald taught me, since when kitty cats sleep their eyes shouldn’t completely close, just in case a yummy bug or birdy comes running by. Here are some pictures, and can you tell that our eyes are just slightly open?

And did you know that Uncle Kevin wrote a song about me when he first met me? It goes like this:

Oscar the kitty cat
He’s such a kitty kitty
Oscar the kitty cat
He’s such a puddy tat
He’s black and he is fuzzy
He’s goofy and he’s funny
Oscar the kitty cat
He’s such a kitty kitty

and I love it when Uncle Kevin sings the Oscar Song to me, because I’m so vain, and I love the attention; but Kevin never wrote a song for Gerald, and that’s probably because Gerald was so enigmatic and it was hard to capture his personality in a song, whereas I really am black and fuzzy and goofy and funny.

And did you know that I speak German? Or at least Daddy thinks so, because ever since I was little, Daddy would call me his kleines Kätzchen or his süsses Kätzchen or his schwarze Katze and I always knew what he was talking about. But Daddy is weird and sometimes speaks to me in Latin and sometimes in Ancient Greek and sometimes in Italian and even in Russian and I just meow, “Yeah, whatever.” But Daddy remembers learning conversational Russian and one time the teacher asked him a question but Daddy didn’t know what the question meant but thought it had to do with liking something, so he answered in Russian, “I really, really like cats…” and the teacher went, “OK, that’s interesting,” and later Daddy figured out that the teacher was probably asking, “What do you like to eat?” but for weeks Daddy’s favorite phrase in Russian was “I really, really like cats.”

And did you know that Gerald and I were both baptised? It was at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which was right across from where Daddy lived with Aunty Beth, and every year on St. Francis of Assisi Day they would have a blessing of the animals, and St. Francis’ feast day is always October 4, and in 1997 when I was 2 ½ years old it was on a Saturday, and that was the day when Uncle Kevin and Daddy took me on my leash to go just across the street and there were all sorts of dogs and cats and other animals gathered on the lawn, and we met a long-haired Persian kitty named Princess Lydia, and the priest took his aspergil and sprinkled holy water on all of us while the people spoke a liturgy, and that’s how I got baptised (or technically, I guess I was blessed). But Gerald had gotten blessed the year before, in 1996 (when St. Francis of Assisi Day was on a Friday), when Gerald was already three years old, but I didn’t get blessed at the same time as Gerald, since I was still a kitten at that time, and I guess they decided it would be too difficult to handle both of us at a blessing. And St. Francis has always been our favorite saint because he preached to the animals, and here’s a stained glass window of St. Francis that Daddy found on the internet, from St. Teilo’s church in Bishopston in the U.K.:

And did you know that there’s a St. Gerald, who was a Frenchman who lived in the late ninth century, and his feast day is October 13, and he’s the patron saint of bachelors and of handicapped and disabled persons. But as far as I know, there’s no Saint Oscar yet, so maybe I can become the first!
And did you know that I’m named after another black cat named Oscar? People often ask Daddy whether I’m named after Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch, and Daddy always says no (although at first he was considering naming me Grover, after Grover Monster), but in fact I’m named after a black cat named Oscar that Daddy used to help cat-sit when he was a teenager, and the original Oscar belonged to a Mrs. Manuel who was a friend of Popo. As for Gerald, Daddy says he always liked the name Gerald ever since he read Gone With the Wind which has the character Gerald O’Hara.

Gotta go now because the sun is going down and it’s time for my evening bath where I lick myself all over before my midnight kibble. So I’ll sign off for now and write some more tomorrow.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Gerald Was a Kitten

Hi, Oscar here, and I’ve been meowing a lot all this morning because everybody was sleeping late and no one was paying enough attention to me because I wanted a drink of water out of the tub but Uncle Kevin had his orchids in it and so Daddy gave me a drink from the sink but that’s not the same as a drink from the tub so I meowed and pestered until Uncle Kevin finally got up and moved his orchids out of the tub and gave me my drink but then he went outside to get coffee and Daddy was still sleeping and no one in this house has figured out that I’m the master of this house now and it’s not my job to go where Uncle Kevin and Daddy put themselves but it’s their job to put themselves next to me which is what they finally did in the mid-morning, so here I am sitting in my kitty tree ready for my mid-morning nap and Uncle Kevin and Daddy are both sitting next to me working on their computers which means they’re exactly where I want them.

And yesterday evening I meowed a lot because no one was paying enough attention to me since Daddy went into the office this morning and Uncle Kevin went too which left me alone for the morning hours and when Uncle Kevin came home in the afternoon I needed to be served so I meowed and meowed and Uncle Kevin decided to starve the poor little black kitty and waited until Daddy came home at 6:30 p.m. to feed me my dinner and I was about to perish from starvation even though my dish already had leftover kibble in it but that was the morning’s kibble and I wanted new kibble and I especially wanted some of that leftover turkey and when Daddy came home he finally gave me some turkey but then he had a turkey sandwich of his own so of course I had to jump into his lap to get some more turkey but for some strange reason Daddy doesn’t want me to sit on his lap while he’s eating so I had to wait a whole fifteen minutes before Daddy let me lick his plate and I swore I was going to die of hunger again while I was waiting but finally I got my fill and then I meowed for a drink of water from the tub and Daddy was actually listening to me this time so I got a nice drink.

It was Gerald who taught me how to drink from the tub because Gerald always used to drink water from the sink when he was a kitten but he stopped doing it when he got older, and in fact Daddy says there was a lot of kittenish behavior that Gerald grew out of but that I kept doing because I was always the little brother. So for today’s blog I thought I’d remember all the things people have said about what Gerald was like as a kitten before I came around, and I’ve seen the pictures so I guess I have to believe them.

It’s difficult to summarize a kitty cat’s life on a blog because kitty cats don’t have careers like people do, so I can’t say things like Gerald went to school at such and such a place or began his first job at such and such a time or worked for such and such a company or got such and such a promotion or wrote a book or sculpted a sculpture or starred in a film or those kinds of people things; and Gerald never got married and never had children and never even took care of his own parents the way people do. But then I’m a kitty cat writing this blog, so those kinds of things don’t really matter to me, either, since what’s most important in summarizing a kitty cat’s life are the memories of all the joy and laughter he brought to others, and an appreciation of his character, personality and temperament, because Gerald was a very proud cat and very different from me, and the more you can understand how special a cat it, the better.

It was September of 1993 when Daddy went to the Humane Society in Toledo, Ohio, with Aunty Amy to choose Daddy’s very first kitten and he wanted a black kitty like me but there were not black cats there that day and he chose Gerald because he was an adorable ginger kitten that had been picked up as a street cat and Daddy fell in love with him when he first saw him. And they gave Gerald a flea bath at Popo’s house in Toledo then drove to Daddy’s house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and took Gerald to the kitty doctor for his first check-up and the kitty doctor said Gerald’s teeth were about four months old so they counted backwards and decided Gerald’s birthday was May 2 which was easy to remember because it was the same birthday as one of Daddy’ favorite teddy bears named Pebe, who looks like this:

This means that Gerald’s zodiac sign is Taurus, which means he was bull-headed and stubborn, which definitely describes him. And when Gerald first came to Ann Arbor he had ear mites, which is not unusual for kittens that are street cats, so Daddy had to put a yucchy sticky medicine in Gerald’s ears for a few weeks and Gerald always hated it. And Daddy lived with Aunty Beth and Uncle Brian and Aunty Sarah they all spoiled Gerald a lot and loved to play with him, but Gerald always loved to sleep right next to Daddy every night even though Daddy had bought Gerald a special basket to sleep in. And Gerald had his front claws in those days so he had his own scratching post but also loved to scratch the legs of Daddy’s chair and tore the upholstery to shreds. And when Gerald was about six months old they took him to the kitty doctor to get “fixed” but the receptionist at the vet forgot to tell Daddy not to feed Gerald on the morning of his operation, and Daddy did, so when they got to the vet, they said they couldn’t fix Gerald that day because he had eaten, so they had to take Gerald home again and kept saying, “Well, Gerald, you get to keep your nuts for a little longer,” until finally a few days later he went back in and this time he didn’t get fed anything in the morning so he came back from the vet the next day as a castrato.

And Gerald was very naughty as a kitten since one time he knocked over a lamp in Daddy’s room and the porcelain base broke into lots of little pieces and the lamp didn’t even belong to Daddy but it was a really ugly lamp and Gerald had impeccable taste so I say it was a good thing he got rid of that lamp but Daddy wasn’t happy. And Gerald loved to chew on plants but Daddy wasn’t exactly strict about it because he actually bought Gerald his very own fern plant to do with whatever he wanted, and this is what Gerald did:

and the fern only lasted about two years until one day Gerald knocked the whole plant off its place on the refrigerator and that was the end of that fern. And Gerald loved to chew things including the feather toy and Daddy had to be very careful when playing feather toy because Gerald would get the string in his mouth and keep chewing and one time he had almost swallowed the entire string before Daddy noticed. When Gerald was a kitten he liked to explore things so Daddy would sometimes put Gerald on a leash and try taking him for a walk in the back garden or down the street and Gerald would always walk very slowly and sniff out every corner or stop and chew on grass and it wasn’t like walking a dog at all, because dogs will follow their owners and heel, but kitties like Gerald just go wherever they please, and it’s people who heel to their kitties. And Gerald also loved to walk on his leash in the Michigan snow:

One good thing about Gerald was that he didn’t like people food but stuck to eating his dry kitten food and one time Daddy tried feeding Gerald some cooked shrimp but Gerald threw it all up because it was too rich for him. Gerald never really liked catnip either, so Daddy used to joke that Gerald was “saying no to kitty drugs.” So Gerald never really bothered people while they were eating, with the exception of one food that Gerald went bonkers for, and that was onion rye bread from Zingermann’s bakery, and whenever Daddy ate some Gerald would come running from his hiding spot and climb on Daddy’s lap and beg for some bread.

And did you know that Gerald knew how to read? Or at least he tried to read when he was very young, according to this picture:

Yes, Gerald was quite an intellectual kitty, which explains why he always climbed on Daddy’s desk whenever he was trying to study or jumped on Uncle Kevin’s lap whenever he was working on a bunch of papers because of course Gerald wanted to see what everyone else was reading; and he even helped Daddy print things from his computer, because of course Gerald wanted to proofread it first:

And Gerald liked to watch TV too, and one time Daddy had a special video tape for kitty cats which had scenes of squirrels and bugs and mice and fish, and Gerald would sometimes climb on top of the TV and lean his head over the screen and try watching the video upside down, but in the end they played the tape so much that it broke, so Gerald preferred watching cooking shows, and I myself prefer soap operas:

And when Gerald got to be over a year old he stopped a lot of his kittenish behavior and started pretending he was Mr. Independent by hiding in his special kitty spaces all day, and he would disappear for hours and everyone in the house would be looking for him and he’d usually be in Aunty Beth’s closet hiding behind her sweaters or he’d be in the very back of the kitchen cupboards sleeping behind the pots and pans or he’d be behind Uncle Brian’s computer, and a couple times he even got out the door that joined our apartment to a communal laundry room, and he’d run upstairs and get into the neighbors’ apartment, and the neighbors would knock on Daddy’s door and lo and behold they’d have Gerald in their hands.

And one time Gung Gung took Gerald to church because Gung Gung was a minister and one time he was giving a guest sermon at Home Acres Community Church in Toledo, Ohio (which might have been called Home Acres First Church of God back then) and he used Gerald for show-and-tell during the children’s sermon which was all about “bad habits,” but how God forgives us and loves us even if we have bad habits, just like Daddy forgave Gerald if he did something bad. So Gerald sat on a pedestal in the chancel of the church for the whole sermon and was very proud (but it helped that Daddy was holding him by the scruff of the neck so he wouldn’t run around).

And then in May of 1995 Daddy and Aunty Amy went to the Humane Society in Toledo, Ohio, again to try to find a black kitty, and they found me, and the woman who raised me aid I was exactly 2 months old, so they decided my birthday was March 17, which makes my zodiac sign a Pisces, which means I’m supposed to be shy and indecisive and little clueless, and I guess that does describe me, what do you think?

And I’ve told you all about how Gerald taught me everything I know about being a cat, and I sure do miss my brother Gerald because he was always good to me and as soon as I came along he mellowed out and let me be the rascal while he became the responsible older brother, and Daddy says I’ve never stopped being a rascal. But let’s not forget that Gerald was once a rascal, too.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I learned from my brother Gerald

Pardon my sleepy look but it’s been a very long day. Daddy was really sleepy this morning and he didn’t notice that I was pawing him for my first breakfast so it wasn’t until about 4:00 a.m. that I managed to persuade Daddy to get up and feed me and then I decided to wake him up again at 5:00 a.m. for my second breakfast which is earlier than I usually do but he didn’t give me my drink of water out of the sink but I decided he needed his rest so I watched the sun rise about 5:45 then waited for Uncle Kevin to get up at 8:00 and he gave me a drink out of the sink and third breakfast and then a drink out of the tub and then a second drink out of the tub and then I got half an hour on the Kevin Pillow and then I was finally satisfied so I decided to wake up Daddy and when he was finally up and about around 9:15 I meowed for my mid-morning snack and he gave it to me because he said he wanted me to be a good boy today because he had a lot of work to do since he decided not to go into the office today because he still feels very sad after Gerald died and doesn’t feel like talking to anyone yet, but he has a lot of paperwork to finish at home and I get to keep him company all day and if I eat now then I won’t pester him later, and so on, but I said, “Just shut up and feed me!”, and when I finished my snack I licked my paws and got ready for my morning inspection of my garden.

And while I was inspecting my garden, I started thinking about all the things my big brother Gerald taught me, and in my last blog I talked about the night that he passed away, and that was five days ago now, but in this blog I think I’ll talk about what a great teacher my brother Gerald was because he taught me all sorts of important kitty lessons. The first thing Gerald taught me was how to lick my fur all over, or what people call “grooming,” because it’s very important to keep one’s kitty fur feeling tight and comfortable and all in the right place, otherwise we kitties will catch a draft, and I think that’s why when Gerald didn’t lick himself during the last two weeks of his life, that was a sign that he was so ill. Here are some pictures of us licking ourselves:

Gerald taught me how to lick my paw with my tongue and get it all wet and then stroke the back of my head so I can clean the spots I can’t reach with just my tongue, and here’s how Gerald got his paw ready:

but I still could go ahead and use my tongue for fixing my belly and my legs and my tail and my little kitty butt. Daddy says cats look really funny when they lick themselves because they can reach places on their bodies that humans can’t reach on theirs, and I always think, well, how would you like it if your body was covered in fur and you didn’t have movable thumbs and no toilet paper, Daddy? In any case, grooming is one of the most important things for a kitty because it keeps us clean and healthy and means that humans don’t have to bathe us as much as they bathe dogs, but I have to admit sometimes people can catch us unawares:

And then of course brother kitties need to lick each other, because sometimes Gerald could see a part of my fur that wasn’t quite right, so he’d reach the spot that I couldn’t reach:

Another thing Gerald taught me was how to insist on attention from people, and I think I’ve learned that lesson and developed it into an art form because I wake up Daddy at least twice each morning for my breakfasts and he always obeys me. But Gerald explained that meowing doesn’t accomplish very much because people are so used to hearing noises like TVs and alarm clocks and cars and sirens going by and other strange sounds that they tend to ignore kitty cats, especially if they have meows that sound like alarm clocks, so the best way to get attention is to just crawl on a person’s lap or chest, especially when a person is lying in bed trying to sleep or sitting in a chair working on a laptop computer or reading a book or otherwise ignoring us, and if kitty cats are insistent and put themselves right in the peron’s way, then we get noticed:

and if that doesn’t work, we should stick our tail in the person’s face and keep it there for a long time as if to say, “Do you like my furry little kitty ass?” until the person says something like, “OK, cat, you win,” and then we’ll get a massage or a treat. And Gerald said that if the person is stubborn and just makes us get off their lap, then we should sit right next to him, preferably behind him, and tap him on the shoulder with our paw, and it works best if we lick our paw and make it wet and stick our paw on the person’s neck where the clothing doesn’t cover it, or we can sneeze on their neck, or if nothing else works, we can lean forward ever so quietly and bite the person’s earlobe with the gentlest kitty bite, just enough to annoy them, or we can lick the person’s hair with our tongues, or purr really loud and try to act cute and adorable, and that usually makes the person cave in, and this was especially true of the Kevin Pillow, so here’s some pictures of us after we finally managed to get into the Kevin Pillow on some nights when he was resistant (and as all kitties know, resistance is futile):

And Gerald taught me how to sit up like a proud cat which means sitting on our back legs and pulling our front legs up straight so we look very regal, and he called this “the Bastet pose,” and when I asked what that meant, Gerald told me that in ancient times cats lived in Egypt where there was a cat goddess named Bastet who always sat like this, and a proud cat always takes a Bastet pose when he’s thinking deep thoughts, and every once in a while I would have a deep thought and I’d try sitting in the Bastet pose too, but Gerald was better at it than I was:

And Gerald taught me how to sit in the sun and he said that cat fur is designed to sit in hot dry weather because all our ancestors used to live in the burning sands of Egypt where it’s very hot and dry, and there’s nothing more fun than sleeping in a nice warm sunbeam, and that even though my fur is black and gets hot in the sun, I wouldn’t burn because if I groomed myself right then my fur would deflect any bad sunlight and I had no idea what he was talking about but to this day I love sleeping in the sun even though it does make my black fur very hot to the touch. So here are some pictures of Gerald sunbathing:

And Gerald taught me how to take catnaps in all sorts of different places and body positions, but one of my favorites was with my chin on my paw, which was one of the very first he ever taught me, since he said it was good for the air flow to the lungs and the blood circulation and it made us look especially cute:

Gerald taught me how to yawn like a cat, which is different from the way people yawn, because people usually yawn when they’re talking non-stop and they run out of air, or they yawn at night when they’re feeling really sleepy, and so yawning is just something that happens when their bodies are feeling a certain way, but for kitty cats, yawning is another art form, and we yawn to show our superiority and to demonstrate that we haven’t a care in the world, and sometimes we yawn because there’s a moth flying around or a birdie outside the window and we want the moth or birdie to think that we don’t notice them, so we yawn to give the impression that we’re lazy and that makes it easier for us to pounce on them later (but of course I never succeeded in pouncing on birdies because I’m an indoor kitty and I always bonked my head on the glass door whenever I tried to pounce on a birdie that was on the other side of it). So here are some pictures of Gerald and me yawning (before we had our teeth out):

And Gerald taught me how to explore anything and everything that’s new, especially at holiday time when people like to put up decorations, and of course that means ruining our kitty spaces, and Gerald said that people have no idea of how important it is for cats that their kitty spaces remain unchanged, because kitties are creatures of habit, but sure enough people will put a Christmas tree right in a kitty cat’s favorite corner without asking the kitty cat’s permission, and then they’ll start baking turkeys or cookies or other yummy foods for the holidays without thinking about how it will drive us kitties crazy because of course we deserve to sample some. And every year when Daddy or Popo would put up a Christmas tree at their house, Gerald would have to inspect it like this:

and Daddy and Popo learned not to put garlands or breakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree because Gerald and I would always play with them and we were very good at teaching Daddy that there was no point in saying, “Now Gerald and Oscar, don’t you play with the glass ornaments,” because all Gerald and I would ever hear was, “Blah blah Gerald and Oscar, blah blah play with the ornaments.” Because honestly, if people are nice enough to leave toys at the bottom of a tree, of course we’re going to play with them! And one time at Popo’s house in Toledo, Ohio, Gerald grabbed a hold of the garland which Daddy forgot to hang up high, and he held it between his teeth, and he ran as fast as he could and pulled the entire Christmas tree crashing to the floor, and then he let go of the garland and ran as fast as his little paws could carry him up the stairs to the bedroom…or was that me, oh dear, it might have been me that did that, but it was so long ago that my memory is selective…anyway, here’s a picture of Gerald doing something similar in Daddy’s house a long time ago, when Gerald was only 1 ½ years old, and that was even before I was born, but Gerald didn’t pull the tree down:

And here’s a picture of Gerald under the Christmas tree at Popo’s house that same Christmas:

And now it’s time for my dinner and I’ve been such a good kitty cat all afternoon, I didn’t bother Daddy once while he worked and worked at home all day, so now I deserve some of that leftover turkey from the Thanksgiving meal, and if I don’t get any, I might just have to put some of Gerald’s lessons to the test and put my furry little kitty ass in Daddy’s face to get his attention.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Gerald's Last Days

I woke Daddy at 3:30 a.m. this morning as usual for my first breakfast, and the moon was completely full in the sky, and I woke him again just before sunrise for my second breakfast and for my drink out of the sink, and I still have the same kibble dish that Gerald and I always shared, and it has two sides on it, but ever since Gerald passed away a few days ago I haven’t been eating out of the one side but I’ve left the food there because that’s Gerald’s side, and maybe Daddy will give me a new dish now, I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Gerald died, and even though it’s very distressing to write about such things on a blog, it might be good for me to talk about it since I think about it a lot every day, and even though I want to remember all the happy times Gerald and I spent together, it’s also good to remember the bad times too because that shows what kind of special cat Gerald was. Just about three weeks ago Uncle Kevin noticed that Gerald wasn’t eating as much kibble and looked thin, so he bought Gerald some canned kitty food and Gerald ate it, but he was more interested in the jelly/sauce stuff than in the meat chunks, and on top of that Daddy was overseas in a place called Italy where he had been travelling for two weeks, so at first I thought Gerald had lost his appetite just because he missed Daddy a lot like I did, but I could tell something was wrong when Gerald didn’t want to sit on the Kevin Pillow as much, and then he started sneezing, and Kevin thought Gerald was beginning to look weak, so on November 9, which was a Friday, he took Gerald to the kitty doctor and they gave Gerald a blood test but Gerald acted very strange at the doctor’s office because he usually hisses and screams and tries to bite whoever pokes and prods him, but this time he was all compliant because he was so weak and the only fuss he made was when they drew some of his urine, and this made Uncle Kevin and the doctor very worried. Gerald’s blood pressure was normal for a change, given that he was so docile, and that showed that the Norvasc was working, and his urine concentration was a little worrying but not serious, and his temperature was normal, so they sent him home to wait for the blood test results. And on Saturday the results came in and the kitty doctor told Uncle Kevin that Gerald had stage 2 kidney failure which showed up in the blood test, and this meant that Gerald’s body wasn’t able to process proteins as well as it used to, which is very common in older cats, so Gerald would have to eat special low-protein food called a “renal diet” but it wasn’t clear what this meant for Gerald’s overall health since many cats live long lives with kidney failure as long as they stick to their diet, but others don’t live as long, but at this point things looked hopeful because Gerald’s blood pressure wasn’t high, but what was worrying was that he had a cold and was sneezing, and his red cell blood count was low but acceptable (24), but it was a sign that he was ill, since kitty blood (like people blood) is made of two colors of cells, and red blood cells carry oxygen throughout our body and keep us energetic, and white blood cells fight off disease and infection, so when the red blood cell count is low, we feel very tired. So that weekend Gerald was tired but he ate his canned renal diet food and Uncle Kevin called Daddy in Italy to say he was glad Gerald had regained a little appetite even though he was still sneezing, and he told him that the kitty doctor said that when cats gets colds they lose their sense of smell, and that they won’t eat their food if they can’t smell it first, and the doctor was right because I’m a cat and I should know and of course I never eat anything unless I sniff it first, but I don’t think that was the only reason why Gerald wasn’t eating his food. And when Gerald was on the renal diet, I was very interested in the food that he had, and I was very annoyed that Uncle Kevin would feed Gerald in the bedroom but feed me in the kitchen, and I was beside myself because Gerald was getting special food and of course I wanted to sample it! So sometimes Uncle Kevin would let me lick Gerald’s dish after he had finished since the kitty doctor said that a tiny bit of the renal diet wouldn’t hurt me, and I loved it of course because it was different, but finally Uncle Kevin had to buy me some kitty treats because it was driving me crazy that Gerald was in the bedroom all the time getting special food.

On November 14, which was a Wednesday, Gerald had another blood test in the morning to see if the renal diet was working, and the results that came back were bad since Gerald was very anemic, which meant his red blood cell count had dropped from 24 to 14 over five days, and he had lost more weight and was only about 10 ½ pounds, but he had weighed almost twelve pounds in August when he had his vaccine shots. The kitty doctor said there were a few things that can cause sudden anemia but the most likely was an auto-immune condition of some kind, which means that the kitty body destroys its own red blood cells, and the doctor thought this because the plasma in Gerald's blood was very yellow-orange instead of nearly clear, and that meant the red blood cells might have broken down in his blood. And the kitty doctor said it was very important to stop Gerald’s anemia from getting any worse, since without treatment, Gerald would only have about 2 more days to live, it was that bad! So if it was an auto-immune condition, there were two possible treatments, and one was to take a medicine called cortisone which is good for the auto-immune thing, but is very bad for the kidneys and can speed up kidney failure; the other treatment was a blood transfusion, which meant they would take some blood from another kitty and put it inside Gerald, but this wouldn’t fix the problem forever because whatever was making Gerald sick would make the new blood sick, and another transfusion would be needed after about five days, and besides that, there’s no blood bank for kitty cats like there is for dogs so the doctors would have to find a suitable blood donor, and they’d try me out first, and of course I’d give my blood for Gerald, but it would mean we would both be in hospital for days. So Uncle Kevin called Daddy in Italy and they decided to give Gerald the cortisone medicine first to see if it had any effect, and then Daddy changed his plans to come home from Italy about five days early, which was a really good idea because it was clear that Gerald might not have much time left.

So Gerald had cortisone tablets and antibiotics for a couple nights and spent most of his time in the bedroom in his carrier cage and he didn’t want to sit on the Kevin Pillow any more or play with me, and that really worried me. Then Uncle Kevin gave Gerald his own litter box and put it on the bed along with his carrier cage and they shared the bed at night while I got shut out in the living room, but I didn’t mind since I had the sofa and the kitty tree all to myself, but I was worried about Gerald, since he would spend most of his time in his cage, looking like this:

Then on November 16, which was a Friday, Gerald had another blood test which showed his red cell blood count had gone up a point (from 14 to 15) and the anemia wasn’t getting any worse, but he had lost more weight and had stopped eating his renal cat food, so Uncle Kevin bought him some regular canned food, but Gerald refused to eat very much of it. And on Friday night Daddy finally arrived home from Italy and when I saw him I was so happy to see him, but Gerald was so weak and so thin that he didn’t jump up when he saw Daddy, but he tried to purr a little bit, but it sounded very raspy and gruff because it was a sick purr. And Daddy tried to get Gerald to eat a little something but Gerald refused, although he did drink a little water. Here's a picture of him on that day, looking thin:

Early on Saturday morning Gerald decided to leave the bedroom and walk into the kitchen and the living room, and he went into the other carrier cage that was in the living room and he made himself comfortable there. Around lunch time Daddy and Uncle Kevin went to the kitty doctor again and were told to force feed Gerald if they had to, since it was vital that he eat something, so they got a can of some high calorie and high energy diet food and a sticky paste full of vitamins and mixed it together with water into a slurry and put it into a syringe and fed Gerald about 10ml every three hours on Saturday and Sunday, and even though he hated it and made a mess, after a while he seemed to start liking the taste of it, even though he still refused to eat solid food. And after each feeding, or whenever he was being fussed over too much, Gerald would try to run away or hide in the corner or in his carrier cage because he was a proud cat and he hated being watched and gawked at when he was sick, so Uncle Kevin and Daddy would make Gerald comfortable in his cage and leave him alone in the bedroom and shut the door. And I would peek in on Gerald every once in a while when they opened the door, and I could see that he was still feeling weak and looking thin and once I pressed my paw into his side to see if he wanted to play, but he didn’t, so I left him alone. And he was still sneezing a lot, and he wouldn't lick himself the way healthy kitties should, which was another sign that he wasn't feeling well, and whenever Gerald walked, he was very wobbly on his legs and a couple times he tripped and fell over; and when he went poo box, there were three times when he was too weak to turn around, so his pee went on the floor just outside the box, and Daddy cleaned it up without complaining at all. And when Gerald would sit on the floor in the bedroom, he wouldn’t curl up like healthy kitties do, but he would lie on his side and rest his chin on the edge of his water dish, and I think it was so he wouldn’t need to move very far if he wanted a drink of water, or maybe there was a little cool air rising up from the water. And at night time Gerald was kept in the bedroom and the door would be closed so I would have to sleep in the living room, but I had gotten used to that so I didn't complain.

On November 19, which was a Monday (and only a week ago today), Gerald went to the kitty doctor again and the news was not good. Gerald looked very yellow all over, even more yellow than a ginger cat usually looks, and the doctor said he was “jaundiced,” which is usually a sign that something is wrong with the liver, which is a different part of the body from the kidneys. And the kitty doctor said that it’s very unusual for cats to have kidney and liver problems at the same time unless there’s a disease called cancer, but in order to find out, Gerald should go to a specialist hospital, otherwise without any treatment he could die in the next few days, and when Daddy heard all of this from the doctor, he started seeing spots and began to feel faint and had to sit down on the floor with his head between his knees to keep him from passing out. And the kitty doctor said that Gerald was very dehydrated, which meant his body had lost a lot of water, and the blood test said that his red cell blood count was up to 16 or 17, but dehydrated kitties can give a false high reading in their blood count, which meant Gerald’s anemia was probably unchanged. So Daddy and Uncle Kevin took Gerald home to see me for a few minutes, and then they called a taxi and took Gerald to an “Emergency Vet Clinic” at Essendon Airport where they met a kitty specialist who examined Gerald, took another blood test, and recommended keeping him in the intensive care unit overnight where an IV tube (which is a plastic tube attached to a machine) could be connected to Gerald’s leg so that they could pump fluids into his body and keep him “hydrated.” And when Daddy and Uncle Kevin came back I wondered why Gerald wasn’t with them this time, but I decided not to worry about it too much until after I had finished my kibble, but this was the first night I got to sleep all night next to Daddy, and I liked it since I hadn't seen him for all those weeks, and I got to climb up into the bedroom window and watch the moon which was getting fuller and fuller every night.

It wasn’t until the next day, November 20, which was a Tuesday, that the kitty specialist called in the morning with the results of the blood test, and I was sitting next to Daddy when the kitty specialist said that Gerald’s anemia was not his primary disease, meaning that there was not much evidence of an auto-immune disease like the first kitty doctor had thought. Instead, Gerald’s kidney failure was one of the main diseases, and the kitty specialist called the kidney failure still “moderate” at this stage, even though it was a 75% failure of Gerald’s kidneys; but Gerald’s yellowness seemed to be caused by a liver disease, which was either caused by a blockage (a “plumbing” problem with bile, which can be fixed by surgery) or a “medical” condition (which has different kinds of treatment), so the kitty specialist suggested an ultrasound, which is a machine that reads the inside of a kitty’s body without actually having to cut it open, and that an ultrasound of both the liver and kidneys would show if there was any blockage, so Daddy agreed to this. And in the afternoon the kitty specialist called again to say the ultrasound showed that the liver was inflamed (what they call “hepatitis”), but there was no blockage; and Gerald’s kidneys were perfectly normal in size; so he suggested a “needle biopsy,” which is where the doctor sticks a very fine needle into the body to take a tiny sample of an organ, and it doesn’t hurt hardly at all, but this would tell what might be causing the liver disease, whether it was as simple as a bacterial infection, or as serious as cancer, so Daddy agreed to a biopsy of both the liver and kidneys, even though it meant Gerald would spend another night in hospital. And later that afternoon after my catnap, another person called to say that the biopsy had taken place, and Gerald did fine and didn’t need any drugs to make him sleep, and thankfully he had got some of his spirit back and resisted a little when the doctors tried to handle him; but Gerald did need to stay in the hospital another night for more hydration and a “wide-spectrum antibiotic” in his IV. That afternoon Uncle Kevin and Daddy did something they thought was “practical” and rearranged the furniture in the living room, making the place cleaner and brighter, and putting my kitty tree in a different spot so I could see more of the garden. But it was very hot all day and they got all sweaty and I just felt like sleeping all day, and I thought to myself that Gerald was lucky to be in an air-conditioned hospital on a hot day like this, but the weather finally started cooling down in the evening.

The next day was November 21, a Wednesday, and I was a pest all morning because it was raining and that makes me hungry, so I woke up Daddy twice in the early hours as usual. But Daddy had to go to work in the late morning and still hadn’t heard anything from the hospital before he left. It wasn’t until the late afternoon that the kitty specialist was able to say that Gerald’s biopsy showed no cancer in either organs, which was good, but it was still unclear what was causing the liver inflammation, so he wanted to keep Gerald a third night in hospital to continue giving him antibiotics and appetite stimulants, since he said a lot depended on whether we could get Gerald to eat anything, since he hadn’t eaten for two days. So that night Daddy and Uncle Kevin went to the hospital to visit Gerald, which they hadn’t done before since they don’t own a car, but they got Uncle Andrew (one of Daddy’s friends who’s looked after us before) to drive them there, and they brought two of Gerald’s favorite kitty toys, and one is a toy in the shape of a boxing glove stuffed with catnip, and the other is a red piece of fuzzy felt that used to have eight legs when it was a spider-toy but Gerald licked off all the legs years ago. And they had a private consulting room that looked like this:

where they chatted with Gerald, who had an IV tube in his front leg, and his abdomen had been shaved for the ultrasound, and he was very thin and weighed only 9 ¾ pounds. Gerald wanted off the table so he could walk around the floor, or maybe he wanted to escape from Daddy and Uncle Kevin because Gerald hated being fussed over when he was sick, but he was still very wobbly on his feet and kept tripping. Daddy held Gerald for a while, though Gerald could only stand it for so long, and he was very limp in Daddy’s arms, and then Gerald lay on the table and purred a little bit, but it was a sick purr again, and Daddy spent a lot of time whispering into Gerald’s ear, telling him all the private things he had wanted him to know for some time, things Daddy won’t even tell me.

Then came November 22, which was a Thursday, and it was very cloudy. There was no news of Gerald’s condition until the afternoon, when the kitty specialist asked Daddy and Uncle Kevin to come to the Emergency Clinic in person, so Uncle Andrew drove them again, and some blue sky was emerging and driving the black rain clouds away, and there was even some sunshine. Daddy and Uncle Kevin saw Gerald in his special cage in the hospital in this room:

where he was hooked up to the IV, but he was still very weak and just lying around with his chin on the edge of his water dish like he did at home, and after they had been there a while, Gerald started making some noises which were very rough and husky, but no one could tell if it was a purr or not. The kitty specialist said that Gerald had still refused to eat anything despite the appetite stimulants they gave him, and they had added some cortisone to Gerald’s IV drip in mid-morning, but there was no real change in Gerald’s condition, and there was little they could do for him any more in hospital except for desperate things like blood transfusions or a feeding-tube into Gerald’s stomach, but Daddy said no, he wanted to take Gerald home where they could give him his medicine in pill form and feed him with a syringe again if necessary, so the kitty specialist gave him another special high-calorie diet and some new medicines and some new syringes.

Gerald got home about 6:30 p.m. that night after being away for three nights and he didn’t look at all well, and I knew he was by no means the same kitty he had once been. Daddy and Uncle Kevin settled Gerald in the bedroom in his carrier cage with the lid off, but his breathing was rapid and he sounded uncomfortable, and he kept trying to get up and walk away from them and kept tripping, so they left him alone and shut the bedroom door. They went and got fish and chips for dinner, which is my favorite kind of dinner for them to get because Daddy always gives me a treat of his leftover fish and Uncle Kevin gives me some of his leftover roast chicken, and usually Gerald likes to snack on the fish too, but this time he wasn’t interested in eating any. At 7:30 p.m. Daddy and Uncle Kevin tried to feed Gerald with the syringe, but it did not go well, since Gerald was forcing his mouth closed against Daddy’s efforts, and the whole exercise really exhausted Gerald, and his breathing became more rapid and his grunting more labored, and he would also lie outstretched and pant with his mouth slightly open. So they left him alone for a little while longer, and Uncle Kevin began to cry since it seemed to him that Gerald was suffering, and he wondered if maybe they shouldn’t have tried to feed him. Then Daddy called the Emergency Vet Clinic and spoke to a nurse who had looked after Gerald, and she said that Gerald’s behaviour at home was exactly the same as at the hospital, namely, he was refusing to eat, so the nurse told Daddy to “keep Gerald’s fluids up” without much indication of how to do that. When Daddy looked in on Gerald again, he was relaxing again on his side, but he was resting his head on his water dish again, but that didn’t look safe, so Uncle Kevin took Gerald’s boxing glove toy and put it under Gerald’s head like a pillow.

At 9:00 p.m. it was time to give Gerald his pills, and there were three of them—one cortisone and two antibiotics, and one of the antibiotic pills was so big that it had to be cut again in half. I came in with Daddy this time and Gerald was relaxing on the floor, stretched out but breathing rapidly and staring into space, and he looked very dazed and probably didn’t know who Daddy was, and once again his mouth was difficult to open, but Daddy managed to place a cortisone pill at the back of his mouth like he always used to, then he stroked Gerald’s chin so he would swallow, but this time Gerald refused to swallow, and even after two minutes of coaxing, this proud cat was refusing to allow anything down his throat, so Daddy just kept stroking Gerald’s chin hoping the pill would just dissolve in Gerald’s mouth. After a few minutes Gerald became very perturbed and crawled into his hooded litter box, presumably to get away from all of us, even me, so Daddy put him back in his carrier cage to rest. Then Gerald began making very labored breathing noises, again with his mouth open, so Daddy phoned the kitty specialist but got his paging service and left a message, then received a call from a different doctor, one unfamiliar with Gerald’s case, who essentially said that if Gerald was showing breathing problems, we should take him back to the emergency clinic. Uncle Kevin was crying again and they adjusted Gerald’s position since it seemed he was struggling for breath, so Daddy lifted Gerald from the carrier cage while Kevin folded a green blanket and put it on the floor, then they gingerly placed Gerald on it so he could stretch out. But once again Gerald seemed to want to get away from everyone and he tried to walk away again, so they let him lie down quietly and left him alone and shut the bedroom door again. Daddy decided he would have to take Gerald back to the Emergency Clinic again, so he grabbed the phone but remembered he left the phone number in the bedroom; and when he opened the bedroom door, he found that Gerald had vomited and was lying on his side and his breathing was extremely slow.

Daddy came back into the living room and told Kevin to be strong and to attend to Gerald while Daddy called the Emergency Clinic, and as Daddy was speaking to the nurse (a different nurse this time), Kevin said he didn’t think Gerald was breathing, and the nurse told them to look at Gerald’s gums and describe their color, and get to the hospital as fast as possible, so Daddy called for a cab and was put on hold, and as he waited, Kevin told him that he thought Gerald was gone, and after Daddy managed to book the cab, he inspected Gerald and had to agree that, yes, Gerald had passed. It was about 9:30 p.m. Then they let me come into the bedroom and look at Gerald, and I sniffed him, and I understood what was going on, but I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, so I started pacing, and Daddy picked up Gerald’s little body and wrapped it in a blanket, and Gerald’s head fell back all limp, and he put Gerald in his carrier cage and they fixed the lid on top and carried it into the living room, and Kevin put me in front of Gerald’s cage, but I looked inside and ran away. When the taxi arrived, Daddy cried, “What am I doing, taking a dead cat to the hospital? I don’t know what to do,” but after that moment of indecision, Daddy decided to go to the Emergency Clinic anyway, so he called them again to tell the nurse that Gerald had passed away, but could they bring him to the clinic to be kept there? Daddy couldn’t bear having Gerald’s corpse in the house overnight, especially with me here, and Daddy was probably right, because I would have sniffed and poked at Gerald all evening if he had been here, or I would have pawed at the door of whatever room they would have kept him in, and that would have been very distressing for Daddy.

Daddy and Uncle Kevin were gone for about two hours, and it started raining again and rained the whole time they were gone, and when they came back, Daddy picked me up and kissed me and told me that when they got to the Emergency Clinic, the nurse took them to what was called the Triage Room:

and there they opened up Gerald’s carrier cage and Gerald lay there as if he were sleeping and his fur was very silky, and Daddy sat down and held Gerald’s body in his arms, all wrapped up in the blanket, and he held it for a long time, and he kissed and stroked Gerald and said all the sweet things he could think of to say to him, and Daddy’s tears kept falling on Gerald’s fur, and then they put Gerald back in his carrier cage, and they both stroked Gerald’s chin and tickled his jowls like they used to, and they cried some more and spent nearly an hour with Gerald, but finally Daddy knew it was time to go home so they called a taxi, and Daddy talked to the nurse about getting a lock of Gerald’s fur, and about leaving the cage and blanket with the clinic until they were ready to retrieve them, then Daddy held Gerald’s body in his arms one last time, and the body was so limp and so cold, then he put him back in his cage so that he looked like he was sleeping, and when the taxi came Daddy gave Gerald many goodbye kisses and strokes, but finally he knew he would have to walk away.

That night I spent the whole night sleeping next to Daddy, and I knew he’d feel better if I stuck to my routine, so I woke him at 3:30 a.m. for first breakfast and just before sunrise for second breakfast and a drink from the bathroom sink. But Daddy himself was wide awake at 6:00 a.m., and after a while he called Popo and Uncle Joel (who now live in Hawaii) to tell them about Gerald, and he was crying a lot.

That was only a few days ago, and now there’s a big empty space in our flat where my brother Gerald used to be. If you ask me (since I’m a kitty, and I should know), I think Gerald was waiting to come home in order to die, because I know Gerald, and the fact that he refused to eat for so long tells me he was stubborn and determined on a course of action, because Gerald was a very proud cat, and even though Daddy did his best to find out what was wrong with Gerald by taking him to the hospital, and even though the kitty specialist tried his best to cure Gerald's liver problem, I think Gerald knew he was too sick to save, and he wanted to die alone, without anyone looking at him or coddling him, which is why he was so agitated by the presence of other people, even Daddy and Uncle Kevin, even me. Proud cats go away by themselves whenever they’re sick, and when they know that they’re so sick that they won’t survive, they go off where no one can see them and they die alone, and that’s exactly what Gerald did. He died very quickly, and the vomiting that started his passing happened while everyone was outside the bedroom, but Gerald had waited to die until he was at home instead of in the hospital, and even though he was suffering a bit that evening, that suffering was minimal since he lasted only three hours after being brought back home, so it wasn’t the kind of prolonged suffering which would have required Daddy to make a difficult decision about putting him down. We kitty cats know instinctively when our time is up because our bodies get older and begin to shut down, and we always have a better sense of our own state of health than people do, and Gerald in true stubborn form died the way he planned for himself, because he was always a very proud cat and I loved him for that.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Remembering Gerald's Life in Australia

I’ve been sitting in my kitty tree most of the day catnapping and trying to decide when to bug Daddy next for kibble, but I’ve also been waiting for Gerald to come tip-toeing into the room, but of course he won’t because it’s been three nights now since he passed away even though it seems like forever. In my last blog I was remembering how we helped my Daddy’s family move from Michigan to Florida on Christmas 2001, but Gerald and I stayed in Florida for only a month because in January 2002 Daddy wanted us to come to live with him in Australia, so one day Popo put our carrier cages in the living room, and we jumped on them since we thought we might go somewhere, and we looked like this:

and sure enough, a woman came to the front door to take us on a trip, and we were all ready for her, but we had NO idea what was in store for us, because she took us to the airport in Tampa and put us on a plane that flew us to a place called Los Angeles in California, and the woman took us off the plane and carried us to a vet clinic in the airport where we met a bunch of doctors who gave us a flea dip (yuchh!), and then all our paperwork was checked and our new carrier cages were “modified”, and then the next day we were put in our carrier cages again and we had to stay there for hours and hours while they put us in the cargo hold of a big airplane that flew non-stop from L.A. to Melbourne, which was a trip of about 14 hours. Gerald and I were not in the same carrier cage, but I could see him, and we were comfortable, and we each had a little hose in our carrier cage that let us drink water from a little tank, and we each had a blanket, but no poo box, so if I had to pee, then I had to pee on the blanket, so I figured there was nothing I could do but sleep. And when we landed some people picked us up and drove us to a quarantine station in a place called Spotswood and they put us in a big cage (Gerald snarled and called it a “cell”) that was big enough for a person to sit in, and there was a long section with a cement floor that felt cool but the walls were like a wire fence, and a smaller section surrounded on three sides by concrete walls and with a heater and blankets. And our cell was in a row of about ten other cells in what they called “the cattery.” And Daddy came to visit us on the day we landed and I ran up to him but Gerald was very mad and snubbed Daddy and walked away to show his displeasure, since we both knew it was Daddy’s fault for putting us through that long trip and sticking us in this cell. We had to stay in quarantine for 30 days and Daddy would come visit us about three times each week and bring a folding chair and sit in the cell with us for about two hours each visit and I would sit in his lap and purr, but Gerald would refuse to speak to Daddy every time. It wasn’t until February 2002 that Daddy came with a co-worker of his, Aunty Mary, and we were finally released from jail, and we got back into our carrier cages and Aunty Mary drove us to Daddy’s house in a place called North Carlton, and as soon as we saw our new home, we went through the whole place sniffing all the corners and deciding what our new kitty spaces would be, and Gerald finally forgave Daddy and purred for him again and sat on his lap. Daddy had some of our old toys for us and a brand new kitty tree that looked like this:

And then Daddy put the kitty tree in a room especially for us, that he called “the cat room”; but the new poo box in the bathroom had a swinging door on it, and we didn’t like that because it made our poo so damp that it got moldy, so we peed and pooed on Daddy’s dirty laundry in the cat room, but Daddy was so dumb, he didn’t notice for a whole week until one evening Gerald finally caught Daddy’s eye and convinced Daddy to follow him into the cat room, and he led Daddy to where a pile of poo was, and then another, and then another. Daddy didn’t get angry, but he felt very guilty for not noticing that he was making us so uncomfortable, so he cleaned up all the poo and took the swinging door off the poo box and thanked Gerald for being so clever in telling him what had happened. And Gerald and I just climbed into our kitty tree and laughed, like this:
Australia is very different from Michigan because there’s no snow in winter and there aren’t any squirrels and all the birdies are different and they don’t sell the brand of kitty treats we used to like, but they have possums and different plants and different smells, and the moon looks upside down. Here’s a picture of me watching the moon behind the clouds:

Soon after Gerald and I moved into this “flat,” Uncle Kevin came for a visit for a couple weeks, since he didn’t lived here yet, and we were so happy to see him that we didn't want him to leave, so we both liked to sit in his suitcase, like this:

Then after another six months, at the beginning of November 2002, Daddy had to go back home because Gung Gung was very sick in Florida after an operation called a “quintuple bypass”, and Gung Gung died in an intensive care hospital on November 22, and would you believe that Gerald died on November 22 of this year? And Daddy tells me that it was very freaky because Gerald passed away at 9:30 p.m. Melbourne time which is 5:30 a.m. Florida time which is the exact time that Gung Gung passed away five years earlier, and that’s a bizarre coincidence. But Uncle Kevin’s sister says that it’s not a coincidence and that Gung Gung was there to greet Gerald and this was his way of letting Daddy know that everything is all right.

After Gung Gung died, Daddy stayed in Florida for a long time and was gone almost two whole months, and a bunch of different people looked after Gerald and me while he was gone. When Daddy got back it was very, very hot here in Australia (it was January, which is summer here), and Gerald and I always get very tired and listless when it gets hot. And there was a neighborhood cat that always used to come by and say hello and he was ginger like Gerald but we didn’t know his name because Daddy said some people said the cat’s name was Tiberius and others said it was Gauguin, but all we knew was that every time he walked by, we wanted to say hello so we ran to the windows every time we saw him, and sometimes Daddy would shout, "Gerald! Oscar! Come quick, it's Gauguin!" and if we were paying attention, we'd come running. Time went on, and in June (when it was getting cold here) Popo and Uncle Joel came to visit us for a whole two weeks, and I had a great time sitting on Popo’s lap like I used to when we stayed with her, and Gerald really bonded with Uncle Joel’s lap. But that was the last time Gerald ever saw them. Then Uncle Kevin came for a second visit (he still didn’t live here yet) and took care of us while Daddy was away for a couple nights in a hospital having surgery on his saliva glands. And shortly after that Gerald started getting thin and Daddy took him to the vet and learned that Gerald had a thyroid problem and his thyroid gland was producing too much enzyme and the best treatment was radiation, so Uncle Roger (one of Daddy’s co-workers) drove Gerald to a special pet hospital in Werribee where Gerald had an iodine treatment and was away for about a week, and when he came back Daddy said the doctors told him not to let Gerald sit for very long on Daddy’s lap for a while, since Gerald was still somewhat “radioactive” and could cause Daddy to be sterile, and Daddy laughed and wondered if his radioactive kitty would glow in the dark.

We lived in this flat for another nine months until Daddy moved across the hallway to a different flat, and that’s where we all live now, including Uncle Kevin, who moved here in July 2004 just after we changed flats, so here’s a picture of me in the kitty tree looking at our garden:

That was three years ago, and it was at about that time that Gerald and I stopped playing the feather toy every day because we started feeling a bit older and gradually Gerald stopped wanting to play with the feather toy at all but preferred to rest most of the day and when he did play, he played with me and ran around the house as usual, but he would stop when he wanted to, and I would let him. And one time Gerald went to the vet for one of his “senior cat” check-ups and was told that he had high blood pressure and Daddy had to give him a tiny pill of Norvasc each day but that meant Gerald had to go back and have his blood pressure checked once every three months or so and they would always shave the underside of the base of his tail and he’d be very perturbed if I noticed his “shame” and of course I always did and I teased him about it until it was my turn to go to the vet and have my blood pressure checked and one time the doctor was one who had never met me and she had to shave the base of my tail three times before she figured out how much fur to take off and I had a big shame to show off when I got home and Gerald really teased me. And then there was the time Gerald went to the vet for his “dental” and they removed two of his teeth including one of his lower canines, and when he tried to eat, food would fall out of the side of his mouth, and he was grumpy for a while, but he adjusted.

It’s helped me a lot to think about all those happy years Gerald and I spent together because I sure do miss him, but now it’s time to find the Kevin Pillow and get some snuggles, and hopefully I won’t make Uncle Kevin too sad by making him think about how Gerald used to lounge in his lap, but in any case I’ll write some more tomorrow.