Thursday, January 20, 2011

A WALLOFTEXT Comment for Hyperbole and a Half's Allie

Yes, I'm still reading old posts and commenting on them.. -shifty-
I had to comment - it tickled the HELL out of me that there's a brain twin somewhere out there and now I don't feel quite so... odd.
Last summer, I flung my stepdaughter's leftover popcorn outside for the birds because it was old and stale. And I didn't want it to feel unfulfilled at its lot in life for being the half a package that her toddler tummy couldn't hold. I figured maybe the birds would eat it, and it would be happy! So. Flung onto the cement pad of our "uncovered porch".
Three days and a rainstorm later, there was STILL popcorn out there, and I was beginning to get a little distraught because now-ex husband was giving me The Look for having scattered food in the yard that would likely draw ants when I could have just thrown it away and played a game of "let's pretend the seagulls at the dump ate it" and the birds weren't interested anymore! Then I saw a cat that looked SO old and SO thin it appeared to be 15yrs and 2lbs. I was inside the house with solid walls and double-glass-with-air-between windows keeping me from *actually* hearing anything, but I swore I could hear him creak when he Old Man Walked over to the stale, rained-on and dried-out-again-by-115F-air, impossibly gross popcorn and started ever so gingerly attempting to eat the no longer white, no longer puffy bits without getting the spiky shell bits. My heart ached for him and I flew into a frenzy of raiding to find him something - anything - better. I found our special hoity toity hot dogs and ripped one up (ice cold) with my bare fingers to take out to him. As soon as I turned the lock on the door he creak-hobble-ran out of sight.
I left him the hot dog anyway, hoping he'd just ducked around the side of the house. This went on for WEEKS. I gave him bits of lunch meat, bacon, sausage, even tried a little egg (he didn't eat that). I scraped pennies (okay, dimes) together and bought two cans of wet food and a little box of dry. The skunks were quite pleased with the dry, but the wet only went out when he was seen outside, sniffing around in the yard.
Eventually, we worked up enough trust that he would disappear at the sound of the lock, but peek around the corner to watch me put down food and fresh water. I started sitting outside when he made a sighting, holding pieces of warmed up ham. I never reached for him, didn't make a sound, just sat there, butt numb, till he decided I MIGHT be okay to come near. That's when I learned his fur was more like brittle straw.
This is him around that time, after he'd actually taken a turn for the better..

So, I noticed no matter HOW hungry he was, or how enticing the food, he would back up three precise steps from the dish and sit down until I was done fussing with it. I had never known a cat - especially a stray - that was so.. well mannered. I had already decided I was keeping him - even if no one else knew it, yet - but I didn't know what to call him. With the big show of manners and politesse, I dubbed him "Lord Kitters". Horrible. HE STILL RESPONDS TO IT!
Anyhow, I eventually reached the frayed end of my patience rope and started pushing the lovey stuff. You know, lemme pet you lemme brush you come play with me. He wanted nothing of it. I offered him a washed out dog bed, tucked into the corner of the "porch" where he'd be out of the elements most of the day, he wouldn't go near it. I left the door open for hours with his wet food just inside, he wouldn't come in. Then, one day, I see him out there and snatch a can of food... He'd brought company. LOVEY company. "PLEASE let me in the house and scratch me and brush me and pet me and let me in your lap and I LOVE TODDLERS LET ME PLAY WITH THAT TODDLER AND PLAY 'CHASE THE KITTIN TAIL' WITH THAT TODDLER!"-type company. Oh, goodie. Moving in a matter of months, about to go in for somewhat major surgery, and I now had TWO half cats that I wouldn't be able to hobble out and feed. We started calling her The Kitten - as in "Hey, Kat," (that'd be me) "The Kitten is here.. you want to go out and play with her or something? She's looking at me like I just told her I ran over her favorite puppy on purpose.."

Towards the end of another month of feeding, we were still on a "soup kitchen" friendship. He'd cruise the back yard, I'd put out his can, be sure the food and water dishes were topped off, pet him if he'd let me (and squeeze his sides to make sure he was gaining weight, etc), and go back inside to stare at him with my forehead pressed to the glass. This was partly my "OMGIHAVEAKITTYAGAIN" stalker behaviour and partly to serve as a watchdog. Other neighborhood cats had found out about the soup kitchen from the skunks and figured out when HE came back, WET food came out. At the first sign of a threat, he'd disappear and I wouldn't see him again for the rest of the day. It wasn't until I chased a few cats away with the broom in front of him that he began to see the back yard as "Mine", not just a restaurant.

So while all this was going on, Lord Kitters and Baby/Little Kitters (aka The Kitten) were getting more grief from the neighbor cats, and I was still pushing to acclimate Kitters (and now his little gift, as well) to being Inside A House for the coming day when I would be moving and allowed to keep pets again. Kitters' first time stepping through the door, he saw the running ceiling fan and freaked the hell out. Baby Kitters' willingness to run headlong into the bizarre land of No Sky proved his undoing and he started taking his wet meals inside, with her.
Baby/Little Kitters aka The Kitten eventually got the name.. drumroll...
Kittun. (like a ton-measure of a kit)

This is the only name she had for the rest of her sadly short life. I went through my surgery, both cats learned to live in the converted garage with me - happily, if with an occasional need to go outside for a few minutes/hours/days - and I left for a week-long trip to visit family. Kittun, who had been behaving VERY oddly of late, died while I was gone. In my room. With Kitters. The same Kitters that hadn't been apart from me for more than a couple days since first becoming an indoor cat. And it was still days before I'd be home. AND while I was gone my ex removed the giant tv and coffee table it sat on so my stepdaughter could watch unending Nick Jr and give the rest of the house some sanity.
He was a wreck. Ex, on finding Kittun, had come out and cleaned her up, and the mess from her passing (we believe she was poisoned - whether accidental or on purpose), and called to break to me as gently as he could that I was now minus one cat.
Kitters wouldn't come out from under my bed for almost a week. The slightest noise terrified him into going back under. His habit of ripping out chunks of fur in anxiety became a health risk. "AND," I thought to myself, "I'm moving soon.. which means he's moving soon." At this point, I'm sincerely hoping it doesn't kill him.
Most days are good, though. He demands I come to bed so he can curl up next to my feet and sleep, he worries when I'm in pain and/or crying, he talks - A LOT, and he makes a point of SHOWING me that he's out of food/water/needs his litter changed/scooped. He does this by getting my attention till I ask "what is it" and promptly heads off to whatever he wants fixed.

He's a good cat. An awesome, smart, empathetic, devious, pet-bed hating old man (found out he's actually about seven)... and he deserves a name that is SO MUCH BETTER than my oh-so-creative "Kitters". But.. he wouldn't answer when I tried to change it to Duke Charles von Beckett Stanhope Robber Baron the First.. -sigh-
Kitters the Kitty it is.

(also.. he is not above having a good POUT.)

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