Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Tribute

When I came into this world my mother wanted to name me Chris. My father refused, claiming that Chris was a boy’s name. When my brother graced this planet with his presence, my mother wanted to name him Chris. Again my father vetoed her choice, Chris, you see, was a girls name.

Years later, when I was in 6th grade, my dad came home from work with a teeny tiny kitten. Either my brother or I (I can’t remember which) asked what her name was and my father declared that her name was Chris.

Chris was the runt of her litter and was oh so small. Smaller than most other kittens, and she remained small all her long life. Chris was more of a girl’s cat. From the start my mother and I were her humans, my father, and my brother (still not 10) weren’t important to her. I can remember playing with Chris in the kitchen, sitting Indian style and trying to keep her penned in the space between where my legs crossed.

Chris’s opinion of me changed when we got a Siberian husky puppy, Czar. I was the one who walked the dog, and the dog was the “enemy” so therefore I was allied with the enemy, and we all know that the friend of my enemy is my enemy.

As a kitten and a young cat, Chris was both an indoor and outdoor cat. I remember one horrible night, she couldn’t have even been a year old, when she went out and did not come home. I couldn’t sleep, I was sure that she was dead, school the next day was a nightmare, I couldn’t concentrate because my cat had disappeared. I imagine you can already tell that Chris did, in fact, come home. Where she was that night, and what she did, she never would tell.

Chris was, at least on one occasion, a successful huntress. She proudly brought a bird home as a gift for my mother. Chris hunted in doors as well. Inside our house her favorite game was “attack feet!” She didn’t attack my mother’s feet, or my father’s, or even my brother’s, but anytime I (the traitor) went up the stairs barefoot she was after my ankles and toes like a flash. Let me tell you, Chris had very sharp teeth. Attack Feet was not a game that I enjoyed.

One night, my mother swore that she woke up and in the middle of the night and caught Chris using the toilet. Chris didn’t flush the toilet, but according to my mother, she peed into the toilet. I knew she was a smart cat.

Chris liked buttered popcorn, for that matter, she liked butter, and if it was left unattended, she would lick the stick. Chris also liked anise pizelles, which had to be watched to prevent her eating them. Chris adored turkey and shrimp, and would beg at the table for either of them.

Chris never did get over Czar coming into our home. Any time Czar came near Chris, she would take one small paw and slap Czar repeatedly in the nose. Usually, there was a very good reason for this, you see, if Czar was coming near Chris it was usually to provoke or attack her (though probably more in a “let’s play” way then a “you are dinner!” way). As Czar became a harmless, old lady, who no longer had any interest in playing with Chris, Chris would still reach out and slap Czar’s nose whenever Czar was within reach, even if Czar was merely passing Chris by to get one of us.

I moved out of my parent’s home over 10 years ago, and only saw Chris, and Czar, at the holidays. Czar still adored me and was always happy to see me, Chris still held a grudge and didn’t seem to care if I came or went. I, on the other hand, always wanted to try to hold Chris and make her sit on my lap (any cat owner out there knows how successful that is).

Czar was put down years ago, but Chris was still strong then. Chris finally had her dearest wish, she was the only pet. Now she could be treated in the manner that she always knew she deserved. Now, she, not that dog, could get some ice cream off the empty box. Now she could have her glass in the family room with ice in it so that she didn’t have to drink out of a water bowl like an animal. She hadn’t spent much time outdoors or gone far when she did go out for years, but now she ruled the house, inside and out. The world was her oyster.

I knew that Chris was getting older, after all we had her since I was in 6th grade, and Czar died a couple years after I graduated from law school, but somehow it didn’t seem possible, in the distance from Boston to PA, that she was really not the young spry kitten that I knew when I moved out from my parent’s house so many years before. This past Christmas, however, when I went home, it was real. Vibrant, strong Chris was impossibly tiny. She weighed only a little over 6lbs. She was frail, and didn’t move around much. Her fur was ungroomed, she had stopped doing that some time ago, and she wouldn’t let my mother brush her either. She could then still go down into the basement to use her litter box, but she really didn’t go upstairs. And, there was the night of the seizure. That was awful, after the seizure was over she walked in a circle for what felt like eternity. She did recover from the seizure and she was fine when I left PA. Within a few months, however, my mother reported that Chris stopped using her litter box in the basement and was instead going into the powder room and using the powder room floor for her bathroom. Finally, my parent’s got the hint and moved her litter box into the powder room (got to give her credit for her sharp intelligence). Chris continued to play kitty alarm clock shouting from the first floor up to my parents on the second floor if they were late getting up, after all, she was hungry.

Yesterday morning my parents had to put her down. She was having trouble walking across the kitchen floor. She couldn’t get comfortable sitting on my parent’s lap. As often as not, she was missing the litter box. She was throwing up often, but she was eating. Her thyroid (she had a thyroid problem) and her kidney functions were both under control, but she still was loosing weight. She was down to only 6lbs. The vet thought there might be some other underlying problem, possibly even cancer. She was 20 ½ years old. My parents, especially my mother, struggled with the decision. The vet felt they made the right decision. Now, Chris is gone.

Chris is gone. No happy knitting thoughts from me right now. No attempt to do an extreme knitting shot for the amazing lace. Chris is gone and the tears well up in my eyes is waves. I don’t need to cry in public, or talk about this in public, but this is my memorial to the pet who was part of my life for almost 2/3rds of it, really she was more than just a pet. Now I just want to force cuddle Isis and to hope that she lives as long as Chris did.

Good bye my Chrissy cat.

7 Comments:

Blogger bitterknitter said...

J, how hard for you. I'm sorry to hear about Chris, you wrote a beautiful memorial. I'll go force cuddle my kitties too.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Lissy said...

My sincere condolences for your loss, Jeanette. You wrote a lovely memorial and it will live on forever just as Chris's memory. Thanks for sharing with us what she meant to you. If it will make you feel nostalgic, I will agree to attack your feet under the table next time we're knitting together. ;)

7:59 PM  
Blogger Disentangled said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing how special Chris was to you.

I, too, recently lost a very special member of my family. I still miss Skeeter very much. Here is his memorial.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous amanda cathleen said...

((hugs)) I am so sorry! You wrote a beautiful memorial. It sounds like Chris was a wonderful cat, with a big personality. ((hugs))

12:18 PM  
Blogger Jscothammerquist said...

That was lovely. I remember when I lost my Nadine, a little over 9 years ago. She had the same symptoms before she passed. Although I have other cats now, I often think of her. The pictures are very very nice too.

11:59 AM  
Blogger wenders said...

I'm so sorry I just saw this - a wonderful, bittersweet entry. I agree with Lissy - thank you for sharing this with us.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Marain said...

Loved your tribute to Chris. It brought tears to my eyes (again). Even Dad choked up.

4:59 PM  

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