Buddy of Mine

       Good evening everyone,

I'm happy about today's post.  You might want to grab a cup of coffee, this post is way longer than most.  I'm reprising a series of posts I wrote last year about Alexander and me.  Over the past few months, I've woven four posts into what lies before you, tonight.

      Included is a new chapter, "A Loyalty Lesson," that I wrote last week for this page.  I unashamedly love
animals.  Today, I had the privilege of petting a cat while doing a session with a couple.  The cat came along with them.  Was I glad.

     There are certain unique massages I give cats.  I gave Manny, today's cat, the treatment.   He ended up on the couch by my side, pressing his head against me, wanting my affection, even though his owners called for him.

      I loved every second of my time with him.  Did you know I can get any cat to come to me, even stray cats?  I guess I am a cat whisperer.

     I hope you'll enjoy this post as much as I did writing it.

     Wishing you a great and grateful day,   The Innkeeper

     Here is the series: 

Chapter One:  Alexander the Grey(t)             April, 2011

         You want to know about me, you say?  Okay, I'll share about the friendship I have with a furry, curmudgeonly crepuscular critter.  Pull up a seat.

       Alexander and I hang out.  He's, a dying, fifteen-and-a-half year old cat.  I'm a positive guy who fell in love with a sassy feline.  He has gone from heavy to thin: he is but seven pounds. [He got down to five pounds, in June.] When our love relationship first started, five-and-a-half years ago, he weighed 22.5 lbs. (10.2 kg).  Yes, my!

       When we first met, he acted like a Fat Cat.  He would push through the crowd, when strolling among mere humans.  People seeing him would declare, "Look at his size!!"   My initial thoughts were, "He'd at least make twenty tamales.  If I could only get him alone, in a back alley."

         No, he isn't mine.  But, he took a shining to me.  It started with a special massage I give him. My friends with cats know me and my unique massage. 

         I pull on the loose skin where his ear attaches along the side of his head.  He loves it.  I would have to do it for hours, if he had his way.  His serious mug as we go through this ritual belies Alex's pleasure, when we connect this way. 

          His breed is a loyal-to-one-person type.  His owner isn't happy with the fact that he's chosen to put in his lot with me, but, that's life. Now, whenever I drop by his place----that he shares with his feeder----he jumps up, sort of, eventually laying by my side, pressed up against me.  

          There is something precious about Alex's efforts, when he greets me.  When I am not around, he doesn't budge from his perch on his cat-pillow that's topped with an electrically heated blanket. (Did I tell you, he was spoiled?)  He just lays on his side, one paw dangling over the side of his cushion. 

         Alex can't walk much; four or five steps he'll take, then lays on his side.  The muscles of his hind legs are giving out; they are not nourished.  Nowadays, Mr. Grey is unable to eat much.  In January, the vet gave him three months to live.  He's not ready to go----yet. Something tells me he's sticking around for my birthday that takes place at the end of May. 


Alexander the Grey(t) on a good day. 
      He gets shots of famotidine and pepcid for indigestion, clindamycin for a cryptococcal fungus infection that has traveled to his nose, making it difficult for Alexander to breathe.  He takes baytril for herpes.  Intravenously, twice, daily, for more than two years,  he's received fluids, due to renal failure.

       Yet, he's a regal-looking cat that gives looks that can still kill.  Even in his enfeebled condition, Alex stares down other cats.  They slink away, even though they weigh three times more than him.  

       It was startling discovering that Russians once hunted them, at Archangel Island, their original homeland, one hundred and fifty miles from the Arctic Circle.  They were prized for their double insulated, seal-like fur.
Alexander's ancestral home: that red island.

      When I drop by, this Russian Blue rises from his death bed.  We have a routine. Slowly, deliberately----with each step, there's the possibility he may fall---Mr. Grey walks towards me.  His efforts are labored.  

       Now, Alexander the Grey(t)  is unsuccessful, when he tries jumping up on the living room couch.  He wants to sit next to me.  His rear legs lack the strength to jump. He ends up stuck on the edge of the couch, his head, two paws and his upper body rests on the seat.

      By his bottom, I pull up Mr. Grey.  He snuggles his sickness-ravaged body against my right thigh. Against me, this pure grey silvery-tipped feline rests his now-boney butt.  

      It tugs at my heart seeing this cat pouring out his last full measures of affection.  His breed, is not vocal.  But he certainly communicates that he owns me.  He does---he's won my heart.

      I'm thankful for simple pleasures. And, I'm humbled by the connection Alexander and I share, as well as the kindness he demonstrates towards me.


Chapter Two:                 A Loyalty Lesson Taught By Alexander  
Flashback to June, 2010
  
     I must mention Benjamin.  He's the tuxedo cat, the other feline in Arlene's household.  Adding him to her family was a mistake.  She thought he would provide Alexander with company while she was at work. 

     Alex despises him.  I can see why.  Benjamin isn't forthright, like Mr. Grey.  He lurks around the kibble bowls, eating from Alexander's, when no one is looking.  He's a skittish and neurotic.  He's a pound kitty, one Arlene rescued.  Not stable, like Alex.  

     Now, in Alex's enfeebled condition, when he is asleep, Benjamin attacks him.  He never did before.  The coward. 

    The sporadic yowling and hisses when they fight adds drama to the evening.  I've found fur on the living room carpet, testimony to their interactions when the Feeder is not home. 

    This second-fiddle cat now sleeps in the back room at night.  Arlene does not want the weakened king disturbed. 

    Even so, I pet Benjamin from time-to-time.  I don't want him to feel totally insecure, although I love Alex dearly.  A year ago, before Alexander's decline, it happened.

     Russian Blues are fastidious about cleanliness.  They insist on a clean litter box.  One evening, I dropped by, Alexander was not in the house. He was romping among the Redwood trees in the backyard. 

     I petted Benjamin. He ended up laying on my lap, on his back, purring as I scratched his chest and neck.  Then I felt it.  A laser-like presence burning holes into me.  Oh my.  Big time, I blew it. 

     I looked up and encountered the ugliest feline face. Ever. Demonic, it was.  The loathing and fury of its wrath I felt full force. 

     From outside, through the sliding glass door, Mr. Grey stared intently at my betrayal.  Never was I shamed by an animal before.  Calmly, I put Benjamin down. I walked to the door, letting Alexander in.   He did not look up. 

     To the couch, I returned.  The Russian Blue stopped in front of me.  Without a sound, he left a deposit on the carpet, letting me know his thoughts about my unfaithfulness.  Matter of factly, Alex walked away, without a glance in my direction.  

     Talk about discharging negative energy.  Mr. Grey did not ride a bike to release his.  According to his owner of fifteen plus years, he had never done that.   Ever. 

Chapter Three: Buddy Time with a Cat in Decline                                                          June 7th, 2011

I used a glass bowl, like this one, to 
give Alexander the Grey(t) water

     Alexander, my friend's cat, is still kicking. Although, it's no longer with his hind feet. It's his heart that perseveres.  I dropped by his house and helped out earlier today.  He no longer walks.

     I love his quiet determination.  I witnessed him using his two front paws, pulling himself along the carpet, as he tried reaching the litter box.  A feline diaper, he now wears.  I picked my furry friend up, held him in the box and removed his undies.  He took care of business.

     Afterwards, outside, on a big pillow, like the royal pasha he is, I transported him.  Laying on his side, unable to move, he viewed the rows of Redwood trees in his backyard.  The moment reminded me of a scene from the movie Solyent Green, where Edward G. Robinson went to end his life.

     In the film, Robinson reclines, drinks something that will do him in.  Before his eyes, he views films of nature and listens to music, before passing on.  Once outdoors, Alexander's ears perked up.  His eyes darted.

     Neighboring cats, Sammy the Siamese, Benjamin, the tuxedo cat and Freddy, the puffy, big, half-feral black cat, came by to sniff him and say good bye, real gentle like.  After the feline visitors departed, we sat, watching darting flies---cats notice the darnedest things----butterflies and the occasional flitting of a bird.  I swear I saw a smile creep upon his bewhiskered face.  Alex had been cooped against a wall in the kitchen, all day, until then.

    When I returned him to the house he owns, that he shares with the resident, Arlene, I thought he might be thirsty.  Outside, the sun, at length, had caressed his back.  A small glass water bowl was brought to Mr. Grey(t).  As I approached, water splashed in the bowl.  His eyes expanded, reaching out for it, like a cartoon character seeing something that captures its fancy.  With the water bowl standing on his pillow, inches from his face, Mr.Grey was unable to drink.

    No longer can he sit or stand.  This being the case since Monday.  Tenderly, from behind, I pulled him up with a hand on each of his sides, allowing his scrawny body to stand, in front of the shimmering bowl.  He lowered his head and drank and drank and drank.

    I'm thankful for simple pleasures.  I never realized how satisfying it is doing hospice care, tending to a dying cat, taking time to slow down and listen, as Alexander spoke to me with his beautiful green eyes.

Chapter Four: Lessons Learned From a Semi-Paralyzed, Tenacious Cat              June 8th, 2011

     One night, when Alexander the Grey(t) was two years old, a car hit his backside.  His owner, Arlene, didn't know this fact right away.  Worried, she was, when, for an interminable day, his mischievous presence was absent.

      The following evening, while cooking dinner, Arlene heard a loud thump.  Somehow, he managed to pull himself up----using only his front paws----onto the roof of her house, reaching the bathroom window on the second floor.  Pushing his way through, he crashed unto the ceramic floor.

       Hearing the commotion, and discovering Alex in the bathroom, his owner knew, by the look in his serious-looking, big round eyes, something wasn't right with her normally frisky, furry friend.  For the vet's office, they flew.

      Taken to a pet emergency hospital in Berkeley, California that night, x-rays revealed his hip was dislocated and his spleen torn in three pieces.  Without treatment he would die within the hour.   Did she need to make a call, they asked?

       No.

      A specialist was called.  Alexander was patched together----Arlene's purse was several thousand dollars lighter, but she was happy to have her grey companion.  Such can be the financial options of a normally frugal, single, woman with no kids.........

      This morning, thirteen-and-a-half years later, Alex is at it again with his front paws.

       Dropping by early this morning,  I headed to his death-bed perch: his enormous pillow, topped with an electronically heated blanket.  He was gone.  Fearing the loss of my friend, my heart beat rapidly as I followed a strewn trail of kibble.

       The kitchen floor was in shambles, kibble tossed throughout the floor.  This Russian Blue knocked the bowl of food over when he rolled off his bed.  He had pulled himself, using only his two front paws----his rear legs are lifeless now----twenty-five feet, to the living room sliding glass door, which faces majestic Redwood trees in the backyard.

      There he lay, resting on his front paws.  Peering outside, his grey tail poked through the hole of his Simple Solution doggie diaper; he no longer can jump into the litter box.

      Alex learned in a day, how to sit up on his elbows.  Amazing.  Lesson: when my time on earth draws to a close, I pray my determination to make the most of my remaining time will equal his.

      I've been helping Alex's owner.  She's recovering from cancer surgery to the front portion of her left ankle.  It's been eleven months.  Recently, her foot has gotten worse.  She's in constant pain. She's been on leave; her employer demands her return.  I know, unbelievable, isn't it?

      Right now, I'm in a back room used from time-to-time.  It's my getaway, during moments when Arlene's sleeping, resting, or I need to wait, before taking her to one of her multiple doctor's appointments or have time to kill before cooking her a meal.  With an orthopedic oncologist, a radiologist, oxygen hyperbaric chamber treatment doctor, plastic surgeon, general practitioner, oriental medicine doctor and needed trips for other business, she's needs plenty of rides. She's asleep as I write, right now.

Alex, during better days.
        Alex is with me, at my feet, curled up, cinnamon roll-like on the floor, his tail covering his nose; he's blissful, even with an cryptococcal infection that makes his nose sound like a coffee percolator.  I'm scratching his head, softly pulling the loose skin between his head and one of his ears.  He continues to love this special massage.  Lesson: there's much to be said about the comfort shared between two friends.


Chapter Five My Friend is Gone        June 9th, 2011 


         My furry friend, Alexander the Grey(t), went to feline heaven today.  My grey pal died at 8:28 p.m.,  at twilight, crepuscular to the very end.   Tending to this Russian Blue with hospice care for six months, has been my privilege.

         He transitioned while cuddled in his owner's arms, his head against her heart.  Appointments I had were cancelled.  I know my priorities.  Nothing trumps love.  Alex needed my company today, and I, his.

         I was with him and his owner.  I'm thankful for the affection we shared and the privilege of being his friend for five-and-a-half years.

Alex, when younger.  I know. Cute. 
       Alexander was more like a dog, than a cat.  Loyal, a one-person type of feline.  This blue-grey friend followed me around, until his penultimate day.  We were buddies.

       Whenever I prayed, even silently, he'd approach and nuzzle against me.  Spirituality we had in common. I  had my suspicions as to the source of his.  You see, Mr Grey was a feral cat found in the forests of Mendocino, California, near the grounds of a monastery.

       His dad he never knew, nor his mother.  Arlene found him at 2-3 days of age, inadvertently dropped by his mother, abandoned, left on his own.  Hence, his curmudgeon persona.

             Alex's birthplace.  What it looks like, near where I live.  
      I know you'll think I'm crazy with my next comment. That's okay.  I believe Alex liked me because I provided a loving masculine energy he never had until we met.

        A pall envelopes me as I write.  I'm at his house.  In the living room, he lies lifeless. I already miss him.

        I loved his quietly persistent and curmudgeon personality.  The latter was a facade.  Despite his serious-looking mug, he was a junkie for affection, especially in the morning.

        What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday morning, Alexander muscularly pulled himself twenty-five feet, using only his front legs, to a sliding glass door.  Tonight, he left this earth, along with the last glimmerings of daylight, right at twilight.

        Emotionally, I'm spent, weighed down by the seesawing of feelings over the past three days, as I witnessed my friend Alex hanging on to life.  One indication of growth as adults is embracing feelings.

        When we go straight from the head to action, we can become emotionally constipated---traumatized. Processing our feelings--not with our head, but our gut is essential.  Feelings don't go away if ignored.

        Alexander lies on the pillow upon which he usually rested.  For the last two months it was his perch.  His enormous bat-like ears are sticking up.  Though dead, his open eyes gaze upon me.

        It's eerie, viewing him.  Next to him, stands a lit, tall, scented, white candle and a vase of Irises.  His owner is not here.  A respite from the presence of her beloved furry companion was needed.

         Before leaving, she poured a circle of salt on the carpet, around the pillow on which rests his lifeless body.  The entire contents of the cylindrical cardboard container was emptied, a Tibetan death ritual unknown to me.

         My eyes are sore. You know why.  Earlier today, I cradled him as the last bits of his life ebbed from him.  Early this morning, he yelped twice.  He never had done that.  This breed is not vocal.  He pleaded to be comforted.

          Gently, I held Alexander the Grey(t); his body was cold.  In pain, he was.  This morning, I knew was his last.  Soon, he would leave for good.

          When I embraced him later this afternoon, his eyes were glassy.  He looked afar, no longer preoccupied with viewing this tangible world.  He was already journeying towards his celestial home.

          No intense stares emanated from him---not typical behavior for Mr.Grey.  However, his ears perked, when I chatted with him.

My Gratitudes For Today:
1. I'm thankful for good memories, including those involving Alexander the Grey(t) .
2. I'm grateful for life. Each moment is a gift, including time shared with others, be it family, friends or pets.
3. I'm humbled by the deep love I enjoy with God, my family and friends, including my former furry friend. 

 My Final GratitudeI never knew I'd feel as strongly as I do, when conjuring memories of that little guy.

**************************

    Thank you, for listening, as I talked about my dear friend. 

Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.

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