In October, while Bill and I were in Paris, our wonderful, broken-tailed Sphynx cat Laird died. A few days before our trip, he’d been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a serious disease that had an outside chance of being curable, so we did everything the vets could come up with to try to cure him.
We couldn’t reschedule because it involved a huge family gathering. Organizing things is one of my skills but even I outdid myself this time. In 48 hours, I put in place a three-person team to give Laird his medicines and test his breathing rate every day while we were away. Laird was very hard to medicate, so I got some meat-flavored medicines specially made up and picked them up the morning of our departure before driving to the airport.
But the text messages we got in France from the “Laird Care Team” were increasingly distressing and when he became lethargic and hardly responsive, I asked one of his caregivers to take him to the nearest animal hospital. There they kept him on oxygen for several days as his medical bill mounted and his condition worsened. Until finally in the middle of the night Paris time while the rest of the household slept and all hope was gone, we called one of our friends and asked if she’d go to the hospital and hold him while they put him to sleep, so he wouldn’t have to die surrounded by only strangers. I have to admit that I have no idea whether having someone he knew holding him while he died made a difference to Laird in that advanced state of illness, weakness, and suffering. But I asked anyway, because it made a difference to us.
One is the loneliest number.
We came home to a house with only one cat, Hamlin, a very lonely cat indeed. Hamlin is highly social and loves other cats and it seemed unkind to make him live without feline companionship. And Taffy needed a new place to live.
Taffy spent her last several years in a household with two rambunctious and energetic dogs who completely terrified her. She spent a lot of her time cowering in a closet. Knowing that wasn’t the right life for her, her humans had been looking for a while to find her a different forever home. With one lonely cat in our house, we decided to take her in. Come to find out, she was both declawed (no wonder she was so terrified) and obese. But also incredibly affectionate and sweet.
The first few days were frustrating though. Released into Bill’s office she immediately found a tight spot on a shelf on top of a cardboard box, hid in there, and refused to come out. When we locked Hamlin in the bedroom and brought her out to explore the rest of the house, she flattened herself beneath a credenza and wouldn’t come out from there either, even when poked forcefully with a broom handle. When we finally had to get her out, Bill lifted the heavy piece of furniture and I shoved her from underneath it by brute force.
Three months in, she hasn’t yet made friends with Hamlin, who keeps pushing the limits of her desire to socialize. Things are slowly getting better but the other night we suddenly heard Taffy let out an inistent yowl. It seemed Hamlin had her cornered in the bathroom. No doubt he just wanted to play and chase her around but it still frightened and upset her.
While I tried to figure out where she was (she’d run off to hide) Bill chased Hamlin around the house, giving him a taste of his own bad behavior. At one point Hamlin hopped up on the living room sofa and Bill caught his foot underneath it, lost his balance, and came crashing down onto his right knee. His head crashed into the cast-iron door of our useless wood stove insert. The remainder of the evening involved a lot of ice.
I’m sure Taffy will be a well-adjusted and happy member of our household someday. I just wish I knew when.
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Image: This is Taffy. The picture does not do justice to her girth.