Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sweet Pea

Charlotte gave our cat Simon the nickname Sweet Pea while he was still a kitten, and it stuck. He's a sweet cat, passive and needy and shy and forgiving. His meow is soft, high-pitched, and thin, almost sad. He's my little buddy, and likes to follow me around, in the morning and at other times when he knows he has me all to himself.

I remember when he was a kitten and could fit comfortably in the palm of my hand, or easily in the crook of my elbow - he'd lay on his back, and when I stroked his belly with my hands, all four of his paws would bicycle as he purred, the incredibly soft, soothing purr that never really changed as he got older.

Simon is sick; renal carcinoma, which has metastatized and spread to surrounding tissue (the aorta and vena cava and the lungs), a fast-moving disease for which he exhibited no obvious symptoms. Finding it was a fluke, as we'd taken him in for weight loss which is probably a result of inflammatory bowel disease, though that doesn't really matter much anymore. We only had him see when we did because of a cancellation; otherwise we'd have been waiting until January, just to get the initial scans.

We'll have him for a little while longer - though the doctor says it's probably a matter of weeks, and we don't want to prolong his life beyond the point where he can possibly enjoy it, he's a tough little cookie and could make it longer. We just don't know, but are grateful to have him with us a little while longer, as we are grateful for his whole life with us.

I love the way he sits with me in the bathroom when I shave, laying behind me on the bathroom rug, and sometimes sprawling out on his side and massaging my feet and ankles with his paws (and sometimes claws). He did that yesterday, and I suspect he'll do it again this morning, the way he's been following me around.

I love the way he'll occasionally get up on the toilet seat, and paw at me while I shave, wanting nothing more than for me to touch him.

I love the trusting way he sprawls out on the dining room table next to the computer, exposing his belly and purring a little more loudly than his normal when I rub him, maybe reminded of being a kitten, but no longer bicycling his paws as he did then.

Although it was sometimes exasperating when I planned to sit right back down, and although I almost crushed him a few times, I love the way he waits for me to get up off the left side of the couch; the moment I stand he jumps up to where my butt was, and by the time I turn around to look, he's already sprawled out on his back for a belly rub.

He loves a full-head rub, one hand on either side of his head, thumbs on top and behind his ears, four fingers scratching his neck and chin. Any other way annoyed him, but in that position, he submits for however long you want him.

Like our other cats, he understands to stay out of the kitchen, but never how to keep his front paws out. His front paws always land on the kitchen linoleum, and his back paws on the wood floor of the dining room.

Simon loves his Santa hat - a red fabric-covered conical spring with a white pom pon on top - and gets his head caught in there when we sprinkle it with catnip. He had a few frantic moments trying to extricate himself while under the influence.

He has a funny running-away trot which looks as if he wants to walk quickly and nonchalantly without admitting he's scared.

When he purrs, soft and gentle, it's as if he means it only for you, and for no one else.

He loves to dig: to tunnel beneath sheets, to dig in his food and throw it out of the bowl, and of course in his litter box.

He has a hard time jumping up onto the table, but does it to be near us. Especially as he's gotten weaker, it's a bit of a daredevil move, and when he lands, he almost seems a little surprised that he made it.

Yesterday he was in front of his food, turned and meowed at me; when I started petting him, he started eating. Little hedonist.

I'm trying to pull it together, so that he has a happy home, not one filled with blubbering, catatonic parent cats (Charlotte and I). It's difficult. Monday, the day we found out the results of the exploratory surgery, was horrible. Tuesday the crying caused less pain in my gut than it did Monday, and my eyes have recovered a bit. I didn't think it was possible for one's tear ducts to ache, but mine did.

But for now, Charlotte and I are at the dining room table on our computers; Simon sits at the edge of the kitchen, looking into it; Kringle meows in the background, trying to stir up some excitement; and Sonja is probably laying on the bed upstairs.

However long we have with him won't be nearly enough, but I'll take it.

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