Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Cat is Hopeless

On November 19, 2011 John took me to the Homeless Cat Project shelter to adopt a kitten after the sudden death at age five of my tuxedo cat, Diego.  Kelly was away at college but would be home soon for Thanksgiving break. We went into the shelter, and I had a tabby or tiger kitten in mind, but there was nary a striped kitten to be had. We wandered around through the garage looking into every cage, then were allowed into the family room of the house where additional kittens and young cats frolicked about- homely little things, all of them. I was sorely disappointed. I wanted a companion for Kelly's young cat, Revere. We'd adopted him in June on the day before her 20th birthday after the mysterious disappearance of the adorable polydactyl gray tiger kitten Isador. I didn't want little Revere being home alone without a companion when John and I were at work, and Kelly away at Worcester Polytech. Discouraged, we went back out into the entry area. One of the volunteers said, "Well, we have one more you can look at." She opened the door into another area and led us to a cage where a solitary short-haired gray kitten with a white mark on the left side of his muzzle was. She lifted him out and told us that he'd been in foster care with a woman whose sister is a veterinarian. The kitten's name was Beans.

Well, she put Beans into my arms and he looked up into my eyes through perfect green eyes, then burrowed his face into the crook of my arm. He won me over with his sweet nature, so we made the adoption donation and took him home. He immediately took over Kelly's room. Revere, who was maybe 7 months old to Beans' 4 months, did not like this strange cat in his Kelly's room. We spent the weekend trying to acclimatize the two young cats- but Revere was still spitting and hissing at Beans on Monday morning when I had to go to work. With trepidation, I advised them to get along and behave themselves, then left the house, to Revere hissing and spitting at Beans who was cowering under our bed.

We came home to two young cats who were playing together. They've been buddies ever since. But here's what's odd...Revere is very family oriented. I labeled him "involved" and the vet liked that term. Revere thinks he's one of us. He hangs with us, watches TV, wants to see what we're doing and be involved in every day life.

Beans on the other hand, I swear to God, has an attention deficit disorder. We actually call him Two Second Beanie because that is about the length of his attention span. He is the sweetest little guy, very affectionate...for two seconds, anyway.

Beans had juvenile gingival hyperplasia when we adopted him. He had, garbage breath. It was lethal. The simple act of his breathing could stink up a room. His vet told us the only cure would be to send him to a veterinary dentist in central MA where all his teeth would be extracted. Beans was 4 months old! I couldn't fathom yanking the teeth out of a cat that young. I balked. The vet agreed to see what he could do himself with a laser and a good cleaning. Four teeth were extracted, his gums were lasered back and the remainder of his teeth were cleaned and polished. His breath improved immensely. He has had regular dental cleanings and he's outgrown his hyperplasia- thank God. He's a much happier little fella and no longer considered "chronic."

He likes his ears rubbed- will practically turn himself inside out to get an ear rub. He likes his ears rubbed on a stack of file boxes in the basement, or in the linen closet where he likes to sleep on a striped towel. You can hold him in your arms, where he still burrows his face into the crook of your arm- for two seconds, before he literally leaps out of your arms onto his cat platform, or whatever piece of furniture is closest. He has an amazing ability to leap- only he leaps upward first and then forward. I don't know how he does it- but he makes some amazing jumps. He'd be a great circus cat- if he wasn't so easily distracted.

He likes what I call quiet play- one on one play time, usually on our bed and it involves hiding a mouse with a rattle in it under the flannel blanket so he can reach under and manipulate it with both front paws, and then maybe burrow his head under there as well. Every evening after dinner he starts racing up and down the hall, and he'll bellow at us and give us his wild-eyed stare- meaning he's ready to play, only when you go to play with him he flops down in the hallway against the wall and looks at you like you're insane. If I throw a toy mouse he'll peel out, paws flying a la Scooby Doo and take off after it, but he always misses his target-blows right by it, then abruptly stops and starts looking around as if he can't remember why he's in the den, or Kelly's room, or the living room. He's totally forgotten what he's doing! Why? Because it's taken longer than two seconds for him to get from point A to point B.

Everything is on his terms- and everything is really not much when you come right down to it. He loves his Taste of the Wild food pellets. He loves his lysine treats prescribed by the vet to boost his auto immune system. He loves beef flavored Temptations treats. That's all he eats...although he might sneak a few bites of wet food here and there.

Somewhere around age one my homely little short-haired little gray cat also transformed into a very fluffy, long-haired, absolutely gorgeous cat. Kelly has a baby picture of him hanging on her wall. You really wouldn't know that kitten and this cat are one and the same although they have identical markings. Beans "poofed" out sometime between age 1 and age 2. He also acquired a new name- Kelly dubbed him Riley when she first met him over Thanksgiving 2011. Now, he is so soft and fluffy, we nicknamed him Bunny. Incredibly enough, he responds to all three names- so there is some memory retention in his head.

My best memory of Beans is the day I let him go outside with me when he was maybe a year and a half old. I keep both cats inside now because we lost cats to the wildlife, but I figured he'd be fine with me on a sunny afternoon for a few minutes- just to experience the feel of grass beneath his paws.
Well, we were in the backyard and all of a sudden he goes tearing off toward the woods then veers right into the neighbors backyard beyond the tall arbor vitae hedge. I am like, Oh, my God!...he's fast! I can't run anymore because of the rheumatoid arthritis, and I don't do well trying to walk on lawns and other uneven surfaces- so I sort of limped across the backyard and around the hedge...and I don't see him at first. I'm beginning to panic...but finally I spot the little gray fluff ball all the way across their half acre back yard near the arbor vitae hedge on that side of their property. He's standing there looking totally baffled- like, well, here's the hedge, but that's not what my house looks like...I just cracked up. He was lost one yard away from home. Finally, I called him. At the sound of my voice he came bolting toward me- bounding across their grass, nearly flying he was going so fast! I crouched down to catch him and he blew right past me back into our yard! The little devil!

I had to chase him around the yard before I finally managed to scoop him up and haul him back indoors. He has had very, very few closely supervised excursions outdoors since then. I have no doubt that if he was an outdoor cat he'd get lost and we'd never see him again.

Riley Beans is hopeless- he's sweet as pie, but he doesn't understand the concept of play. We try...but mainly I am the one tossing the toy mouse then running to get it so I can throw it again-all the while he lays there on the floor and watches me through those wide, innocent green eyes- as if he's never seen me before in his life. But- truth is, he loves us and we love him, two second attention span or not. he's our little guy.

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