Monday, April 27, 2009

Why Can't Kitties Live Forever?

He flopped around on the rug, suddenly howling and screaming and hissing. He bared his fangs and his tail puffed up three times its size. He seemed to be looking at something that apparently raised his hackles and had him fighting one of his greatest cat fights. What was it? A spectre of doom? A spirit he did not recognize? A glimpse at the end of the tunnel? With one great scream and hiss he gave over and this last of the best cat fights of his life was over. So ended the nine lives of "Caramel" better known as Mel-Guy, the kitty-boy of Anchor Street in Morro Bay, California.

Mel-Guy was well known on the Central Coast having achieved fame in a front page newspaper photo with me during my struggle with breast cancer in 2007 and 2008. He was a loyal and staunch companion, bonded only to me and no one else. While the story of his first few years remains unknown, it was always apparent that his beginnings had not been ideal and throughout his life he trusted no one except me and I had to win that trust.

It's not easy getting a neurotic cat to attain some semblance of normality and it took about three years of diligent reinforcement to get Mel-Guy to realize that, I at least, was not going to harm or abandon him.

I worried during my cancer spell that I might die and was not upset that my life might end, but was terribly concerned as to what would happen to Mel-Guy. I had friends who offered to take him should such a thing occur, but in my heart and soul I knew that this would never suffice for him. I never asked God to spare me for myself, but to please do so because I had to take care of Mel-Guy. Still it never occurred to me that he might up and die before me.

With animals it's always hard to know when they are sick. They mask it so well that often the bad signs only show up towards the very end. This was certainly the story with Mel-Guy. He showed discomfort and was ill for only two days prior to passing and even after I brought him to the vet that morning, it was not at all evident that within ten minutes of returning home he would be dead. Nothing in my experience prepared me for the kind of death he had. I'd put a previous cat to sleep and found the experience, while sad, enormously peaceful and certainly nothing like what I witnessed with Mel-Guy.

But I got to thinking about his life with me. Mel-Guy was a fighter. If a cat fight was going to happen in his territory you can bet that it was one that he instigated. In all other respects, he was a gentle, loving animal, if somewhat of a scaredy cat. He had his kitty friends, Duke-Boy, Satchmo, Pippy, and Molly-Molly, but let Max or Buddy or some wandering stray trot through the front yard and boy, it was time to rumble.

So it has not been a shock to find out that a cat fight was what did finally bring Mel-Guy to his last day. The fight occurred in late October and it was bad. The wound on the top of his head, which he wouldn't let me touch for days, became infected. I drained it and drained it and then hauled him off to the vet for antibiotics. The treatment appeared to help for a while but within a month the infection came back. So another vet visit and more antibiotics. Another month went by and shortly after the Christmas holidays, the infection was back again. So back to the vet we go and this time the vet operates and finds a portion of a tooth stuck deeply in his skull.

I hoped that would be the end of it and end is what it was. We now think that Mel-Guy succumbed to blood poisoning from that cat bite. To be sure I would have had to pay about $150 in blood tests. I opted out. The vet however really wanted to know what might have happened and asked me if he could do a limited autopsy, no charge. That revealed not only involvement of his liver, but pretty nasty cancer in his small intestine. The cancer would have killed him eventually too. We think he had that cancer all the while that I had mine. I wish I had known, I would have hooked him up to my chemo!

There's a new kitty at my house now. Gordo came to Woods on February 27th, the same day Mel-Guy died. When I heard that I knew he was the cat to go home with me. He's nine years old, a senior cat. His canine teeth hang down over his lower lip which is black in color. He looks like a little vampire, but is really a love.

Gordo will not be enjoying the thrills of the "wild." He is an indoor cat. I know most cats like to roam around outdoors, but never again will I have an animal die just because I allowed him to experience the "wild." I thought I might find a way to fence off my small front porch for him, but in the last few weeks I've been adopted by a tiny stray kitten who now eats out there. Afterward he goes across the street to hide out under something in the yard where the cat Thomas Jefferson lives. I've named the kitten George Washington and I'm hoping to find a home for him where he could STAY INDOORS because kitties should live forever!

This is George. He now accepts sleeping in a bed I made for him on the porch. We tried having him in the house last night in his little bed in the back room with the door closed and he did well until 6 AM when he knocked a lamp onto the floor. Then he met Gordo and freaked out when he saw that BIG kitty. After jumping on the stove and raking his claws into my loveseat, I put him back outside. George needs a home so if you know anyone who would take him, please let me know. I estimate that he is about 8 or 9 months old. Very sweet but needs to be trained. My e-mail is

And Mel-Guy says his last farewell to life on this planet in this realm in his own special fashion!