Friday, March 02, 2012

On Dying & Pets

My parents have 2 cats. Max and something else. Sweetums I think.  They are LONG haired cats because my mother loves Persian cats. Sweetums is old, I think. Max is not so old maybe 3.  My parents are OLD (75 & 70).  It dawned on me recently that the odds are good one or more of the cats will outlive them.  Since my nephew, who kind of liked Max I think, lives with Satan right now he wouldn't be able to take them. That leaves them to my sister or I or one each. The reason I got Sam was because he's a short haired cat. Many of my friends are cat allergic and while a cat is still a cat, short hair is easier on them than long hair. They can tolerate the short hair for a longer period of time.  It is a sort of compromise without really being one. Also I hate Persian cat coats because they require intensive maintenance. I brush Sam when his fur is shedding into my face a lot, but I never have to worry about him looking like a psychotic ball of mats.

A couple of tweeps suggested ASPCA or euthanasia.  Neither is really an option.  We have a long and somewhat weird history with pets. Growing up we always had cats and dogs. All of our pets were strays acquired either from shelters or somehow through my older sister.  Especially from my older sister who would acquire them and then be living in a place that wouldn't let her have them.  I have no idea where Charlie (cat named after Charlie Bucket from Willy Wonka) or Keffie (daschund) came from (I believe they moved from PA with us when I was 4ish).  Mouse (a dachapoo) came from my sister. We went to the animal shelter when I was age something (like 6 or 7) and I got to adopt Midnight (black cat obviously).  Boogack (another black cat I think my sister named it and it may have had another realer name before that one which if I think about it hard enough the original name may have actually been "Black cat") also came from a shelter. Nick (another daschund) came via my sister. Smokey (gray cat awesome but a hugeass bitch) sister. Sebastian I adopted from the shelter via my mother who was there for some random reason. We had to put Seb down maybe 2 years later tops for feline leukemia.  For a brief time we had TJ Waterbuffalo (a sheepdog who went to live on one of my sisters' friends' ranches he was just way too big for our little house and yard) and he came from my sister natch. There was Groucho who had been a neighbor's cat but decided she liked us better. (And the neighbor's grandmother with whom they were living was just fine with that solution).  For awhile when my sister lived with us again her manx cat Jamie lived with us too.  Jamie she always kept with her. I'm sure I may be forgetting a few. Oh after I left and was a grown up they acquired Ming (shih tzu) from when my grandmother died. And how could I forget the one that started her Persian obsession... I want to say his name was Buddy. He was gray. I think he came via my sister. He also, at one point in his life, got into a battle with a neighbor cat that he almost lost and got his throat ripped open. Or maybe that was Smokey. (Seriously the gray and the black cats run together after awhile).  I also think there was a second Buddy in there, Max is kind of white but she had a tan Persian for awhile too.  Champagne puddles (also Persian cat) I think also came via my sister (although I could be wrong about that one). 

All in all, growing up we had a lot of pets most of whom were cast off and rejects from other places.  Smokey had been a feral cat out at a trailer park where my sister lived for a time. How my sister decided we needed him I'll never know, but I liked Smokey even though she intially pretty much hated people. I was the only one who could flip her on her back and pet her chest while cradling her like a baby. My father always thought that was brave of me.  It was drilled into me that you don't give up the pets. It isn't their fault if you are a fuck up. Now, as an adult I can definitely see the gray areas in pet ownership.  If a pet is dangerous to to the family or other people, that's a problem. Having been attacked by someone's pet dog more than once (once requiring 9 stitches and had it been a little higher my girlie bits would be a lot different), I'll never say that all pets should be kept at all times by all people.  And while I don't believe necessarily in "dangerous" breeds, I do know that some animals, due to inbreeding or just the way their mutt genes combine, don't turn out quite right.  Champagne puddles (registered name Champagne Bubbles) was an awful cat. She never came out from under the bed, unless it was to pee on the bed. She peed on it once with my father in it asleep. They had to keep a shower curtain on the bed because of her. And yet, as my father pointed out, it wasn't her fault she was batshit crazy. Since she wasn't a danger to anyone, she got to live. We never, as I recall, had any dangerous dogs. The worst was probably Smokey who we mostly let have her own way until she got used to us. She was hostile, but not aggressive.

When my sister died in 2002, she behind more than just 2 kids. She and the kids had pets.  The horses were actually already willed to people so that was taken care of. (And it was a good thing since Satan wanted to sell them out from under the rightful owners).  I believe my nephew's dog had already died by that point. I know Jamie had passed by then. So that left a ferret named Slinky, a lunatic Australian Shepherd named Robin and my niece's cat Sugar.  When I found out my sister died, one of the first things I said to my parents was make sure you take the ferret. I knew Satan wouldn't want him and wanted to make sure Slinky lived out the end of his life content.  I offered to take him but they decided to hold on to him.  So this left Robin and Sugar. As I understand it, Satan offered my 12ish year old niece a choice. She could keep Robin, her mother's dog, or Sugar, her cat. He then had Robin put down.  To be remotely fair (not really) Robin was pretty old. Sugar was very young. He then left Sugar at the empty house until one of the rightful horse owners picked her up and brought her back to live with my parents.

In any event, the only way pets left the family, with the exception of TJ, is via their own death. Either we had them put to sleep after they were too sick and it was too cruel to make them live anymore or they died on their own somewhere in the house. I remember Charlie died under their bed. Midnight had to be put down due to Feline Leukemia. It happened while I was on vacation in Japan and I was heartbroken.  The cats were all indoor/outdoor cats. They could come and go as they pleased and I feel fairly certain one of them became hawk food right out of our back yard. 

I don't know what this will mean for Max and Sweetums. Sam HATES other cats and makes Max's life miserable whenever my parents drive through on their way to Florida. Of course he'd eventually get over it and/or Sweetums would knock Sam silly with her still clawed paws and that would be the end of that. But (Along with a house that would make the people on hoarders see dollar signs in terms of how much money we would have to pay them to take care of it all) they are something me (or my sister) will have to figure out when the time comes.  I suppose it would be unkind of me to say to my mother "You can't get any more cats because you are old and I don't want to end up with them."  But I kind of want to.

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