Big and black.
He came to us about 11 years ago, getting away from a neighbor who wasn’t taking very good care of him. He wandered into the garage one day looking painfully skinny and asked for a drink of milk. I put a saucer on the floor, he drank. Then I gave him a little tuna. He thanked me, and went back home.
This became a daily routine. He got to know my car by sight. When I’d come home from work and pulled in the drive, here would come the kitty, galloping across the street for his ration of tuna and milk. The woman who owned him also owned another cat and a dog. She didn’t take care of any of the animals. About two weeks after we met Lenix, the woman moved out of town. Lenix stayed with us. We became cat-nappers. He preferred tuna and milk, and the occasional massage, over her poor treatment of him. A check-up with the veterinarian indicated that Lenix was approximately two years old, neutered, declawed, and in pretty good health in spite of being so skinny.
Now, I’ve always considered myself a ‘dog person’. I love dogs. I like cats too, but I’ve always preferred dogs. I don’t know if that’s changed or not since having Lenix around, but I certainly count cats among my favorite animals. Their beauty, their gracefulness, their ‘above-it-all’ attitude is admirable.
For 11 years now, Lenix has been training us. He allows us to stay in his house, as long as we provide lots and lots of food. He’s always preferred wet, canned food over dry. (Don’t most kitties?) We’ve experimented with every brand of canned cat food there is. Some he likes pretty well. Others, not so much. ‘You expect me to eat this crap?!’ Have you ever seen a cat STOMP away from a dish of food? This one does!
We eat a lot of hamburger at my house. One day, while opening a package of fresh hamburger, I thought maybe Lenix would like a taste. He LOVED it. I have no idea if I should be giving him hamburger, but he seemed to like it so well, I figured a little dab, about the size of a nickel, couldn’t hurt much. After all, cats are carnivores. If they can take such delight in eating dead mice, why not a teaspoon-sized piece of hamburger?
This is the routine: About once each week I make something involving hamburger. Lenix will stretch out from the floor to the top of the kitchen cabinet, front paws just reaching the counter . . . he screams for a bite. I give him a little. Ahhhh, pure heaven for the puss!
Over the years Lenix has packed on the pounds. Cans of Salmon Delight and the occasional taste of hamburger will do that to a kitty I guess. Beer and nachos while watching football with his humans adds to the girth. But I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that he seems to be shedding his (ample) weight, quickly. TOO quickly. We decided it would be a good idea to have the vet check him out. I always hate to take the cat anywhere. Traveling stresses kitties. A dog will ride in a car and love it, but cats are home bodies. They like known surroundings – THEIR space. But this sudden weight loss is cause for concern, so stressful or not, he’s got to go to the doctor.
Fred took him on his way to work. Lenix would spend the night in the vet’s office, while the doctor ran some tests and took x-rays.
We heard from the doctor yesterday. Not good news. The vet told us there was a ‘mass’ around his spleen and stomach. The blood work indicated cancer, and the doctor thought that due to the aggressive nature, it was most likely in other parts of his body too. We had to make a decision. The vet said that no matter our decision, the cat wouldn’t last long. He could give us some medication to keep Lenix as comfortable as possible, but the end was near, regardless.
Would the cat really be comfortable? Would he be in pain? Would he be able to even walk in a week or two? What kind of life would our beloved kitty have, in the short time left?
We drove to the vet’s office. We had a little package of kitty treats. I swear, that cat grinned when we walked in the examination room. ‘My humans are here!’ We fed him the little treats and massaged him from head to toe. Lenix purred. For about 30 minutes we told him he was a beautiful, good kitty and we gently stroked him.
The vet said he would simply ‘go to sleep’. I can only hope that’s true. After a couple of injections, he put his head down and . . . was gone. Fred, my son and I were bleary-eyed. The doctor was quite compassionate. ‘All the times I’ve done this, it never gets any easier.’ We lined a box with a towel, put Lenix in and took him home to bury him. Fred started digging a hole between the patio and the privacy hedge. One of Lenix’s favorite places to lounge in the sun.
While Fred dug the hole, I started dinner. We were going to have fried hamburgers. My son took a piece of hamburger and said, his voice cracking, ‘I’m going to put this with Lenix.’ He opened the box, pulled the towel back and placed the ball of hamburger under a front paw. We folded the towel back and closed the box. Then we buried the BEST cat in the world.
I’m all ferklempt just typing this. I already miss that cat terribly.
Now, I know some people will say, ‘Good God, Yip. It’s just a cat for crying out loud!’ No, he was not JUST a cat. He was a member of our family. While I would never equate a pet’s life with that of a human (most humans, anyway) he was STILL part of our family.
Often times gay people choose their families, for a number of reasons. More often than not, those families include pets. Parakeets, fish, dogs, and certainly cats. Unlike our blood relatives, our pets never question why we do what we do. They don’t care what we look like, how much money we have, what kind of car we drive. They’re happy to just hang around with us, hoping for a kind word and a pat on the head.
We seldom deserve their devotion.
Lenix chose us to be his family, and we are better for it. Lenix was not JUST a cat. He was part of us. He was the BEST cat in the world.