So long, Boo. I miss your crooked little tail already.
to the bone
Boo had a follow-up visit with the vet on Wednesday to see how she was recovering from last week’s surgery and to give her an injection of antibiotics. We stopped by after work to pick her up and as soon as the vet tech said the doctor wanted to talk with us I had the feeling it wouldn’t be entirely good news.
When the vet sewed up her mouth after pulling her teeth she noticed the bone was spongy, so she sent a sample of it to the lab. Tests showed that Boo has a kind of bone cancer that’s especially aggressive; without treatment, the prognosis is that she has weeks, maybe months to live, but options for treatment don’t give her much more time and won’t do much to improve her quality of life, so we’ve decided to do what we can to keep her as comfortable as we can until it’s no longer possible.
Right now, she appears to be fine. She has recovered well after surgery and she has a ravenous appetite, a very good sign. Her main interest is getting as much lap time as possible and when a lap isn’t available, she curls up under a blanket and naps, not at all unusual for a 16-year-old cat. We started feeding shredded tuna to her after they yanked most of her teeth out and now she gets it every day, making her one very happy cat.
Boo’s face puffed out on her left so much that her eye was shut most of the time, so we took her to the vet who said she had an abscess caused by some rotten teeth. Poor Boo! The vet ended up keeping her overnight so they could yank five of her teeth the next morning.
We took her home in the evening after her surgery and put her in a room by herself because she was still a little loopy from the anesthetic. I went in to see her after dinner and she wouldn’t come to me, which I expected because she holds a grudge for a while after we take her to the vet. She usually finds a spot close enough to us that we can’t ignore her but she sits facing away from us. This time, though, she kept pacing back and forth, crying and rubbing against my knee each time she went past. I couldn’t get her to stop.
B came in a little later and Boo wouldn’t sit sit still for her, either. By then it was about half-past seven, late enough that we could give her something to eat, so I went to the kitchen and fixed up a bowl of food for her. Turned out, that’s what she was crying about. She gobbled it up in the blink of an eye and cried for more. I waited about fifteen minutes before fixing up another bowl of food for her, just to make sure she wasn’t going to barf up the first bowlful, but I didn’t have to worry about that. She wolfed her second helping and was crying for more about a half-hour later. I haven’t seen her eat like that in years.
Boo let me know it was time to get up and feed her by jumping on my bladder, walking across my stomach and clawing at the box spring after jumping to the floor as noisily as a five-pound cat can. It was quarter to four in the morning. So I got up and fed her, as you do. Six hours of sleep it enough, right?
She was sleeping with us because she’s in recovery after we had to take her to the vet who drained an abscess in her face. Boo’s face, not the vet’s. The vet had to yank five of Boo’s teeth out, too, probably making the whole deal a fairly traumatic experience, so we let her into the bedroom to cuddle up with us while she’s recovering.
We stopped letting the cats sleep with us when they learned that I really hate it when they walk on my face. After they acquired that knowledge, they did it all the time. If you’ve never wanted to strangle a cat with your bare hands, you’ve never had one walk on your face while you’re sound asleep.
They walk on my face because I’m the one who feeds them (somehow that ended up as part of my job description; I need a better union rep) and they know that I’ll get up and feed them if only to stop them from walking on my face. Locking them out of the bedroom restored regular feeding hours. I also got more sleep, which didn’t suck.
After losing most of her molars and one of her fangs, Boo has officially crossed the line into the soft-food phase of her life, and she’s enjoying it. Tiki Cat three times a day! Scooter and Sparky are insane with jealousy.
feeder of cats
I can’t walk into the kitchen without two cats following me. Three when Boo is hungry (not so much these days). The other two are always hungry, or at least they’re always interested. If I stop in front of the kitchen cupboard where we keep the kitty kibble (now that’s a lot of alliteration!), they swarm around my feet and I have to be careful not to trip over them or, if it’s early and I’m still having trouble focusing, just stepping on them. Which I’ve done. It pisses them off, but it hasn’t stopped them from swarming my feet.
That’s really all there is to our relationship: I’m the guy who feeds them. Or in Scooter’s case, I’m also the guy who pats his butt. He’s one of those cats. Their only other interest in me is incidental, like if I happen to be around when they want to get into a room behind a closed door; then they think I’m there to open it for them. They’re usually disappointed when they believe that.
We used to let our cats sleep with us, but after we brought Scooter home from the Dane County Humane Society two Christmases ago, we had to lock them out because Scooter wanted to sleep on our heads.
I don’t like a cat sleeping on my pillow. Anywhere else but my pillow is okay, but for whatever neurotic reason is buried deep in my hind brain, I get squicked out by cats on my pillow. It might have something to do with waking up with a cat butt parked next to my face. Ew.
My Darling B doesn’t mind having a cat on her pillow, but Scooter isn’t satisfied by just curling up on top of her head and going to sleep. He also wants to shove his nose in her ear and purr loudly while kneading the back of her neck with his razor-sharp talons. This, for obvious reasons, does not fly with B.
So we locked him out, which meant that we also had to lock Boo out. I felt bad about that, because she never bothered us. Well, she never bothered me. She usually sleeps curled up next to B’s butt, and I’m okay with that, but B says she’s like a hot-water bottle, and B doesn’t need a hot-water bottle. I’d like that, but I like sleeping under five or six layers of quilts.
The downside of locking Scooter out is that he usually scratches at the door in the middle of the night, whining to be let in. B can sleep through that. I can’t, so I have to lie there, wide awake, until he gives up and goes away, and then I have to lie there a while longer until I fall asleep again, or until the alarm clock starts to bleep, whichever comes first.
So it was either let him in and get squicked out when I woke up and found his butt parked on my pillow, or lock him out and lose an hour or more of sleep a night. Waking up with a cat butt in my face was worse, I figured, so we kept locking him out.
My job required me to hit the road almost every week starting in July. I drive to the farthest reaches of Wisconsin, so far away that I sometimes have to stay there overnight before driving back. When I’m gone overnight, B lets the cats into the bedroom at night, to keep her company. Scooter still climbs up on her pillow at night to knead her neck and give her a wet willie with his cold nose, and Boo still curls up right next to her and turns up her thermostat until she’s red-hot, but B seems to think the comfort of having the cats in bed with her is worth it. Oddly, Sparky does not feel the need to crawl into bed to join the party.
Just to see what this was like myself, I left the bedroom door open last weekend. I figured I wouldn’t lose any more sleep than I would when Scooter came scratching at the door, and if he planted his butt in my face, I’d just scoop him up and chuck him out. He’s got white fur; he’s not hard to find in the dark. To my amazement, I slept through the night. Best night of sleep I can remember having in a long time. When I mentioned this to My Darling B, she said something like, “Sure, ’cause Scooter and Boo were all over me all night.” I said we could go back to closing the door if she wanted. She said it was up to me, so I left the door open again, and again I slept through the night. *bliss!*
And they’ve been sleeping with us ever since. Sparky still doesn’t climb into bed with us. I’m still not sure why. He’s probably just used to sleeping on the sofa, but I get the feeling that if he ever does decide to join us and discovers just how warm it is, especially in winter, that’ll be the last time he sleeps alone.
We’ve had a mouse problem for a long time. When Bonkers The Cat was around and was still full of piss and vinegar, he did his part to keep the mouse population under control. Boo would play with the mice that Bonkers chased out of the corners, but I don’t think she ever went looking for mice and hasn’t lifted a finger (or toe, whatever) to catch any since the Bonkers left the scene more than a year ago.
So the mice have had free run of the place for months, and have staked their claim to every part of the house that they can colonize. Most recently, their efforts to take over the house have reached as far as the kitchen, where they are now into the many drawers under the kitchen counter, for reasons that are a little hard to explain. They were in the space under the sink before, because that’s where the kitchen trash can is and they could filch all sorts of goodies from it, but now they’re not satisfied with just grabbing the food and going.
It seems that now they’re wandering around in the drawers where My Darling B keeps the various implements of kitchen magic, and it causes her no small amount of distress when she reaches for a knife or a skewer and finds those disgusting little calling cards that mice leave behind wherever they go. She’s had to clean out two of the drawers at least twice in the past six months, and last night we took everything out of all the drawers so I could set out traps and start the chore of running every single one of the magical kitchen implements through the dishwasher to give them a two-hour-long power wash followed by twenty minutes of intense sterilizing heat.
Now I have to figure out how to mouse-proof as much of the kitchen as possible, as well as how to delete the mice. I’ve already got traps under the sink and I set out traps in the drawers overnight, but no luck so far. I think I can block off easy access to the space under the sink, but mice can be determined little buggers so I’ll have to keep setting traps for the foreseeable future.
As for long-term measures to rid our little red house of the infestation, I’ve proposed getting a more dedicated mouser to patrol the darkest corners. I swear I heard B say no to that proposal before, but when I brought it up last night she said that she thought I was opposed to getting another cat. I suppose I might have and don’t remember it, but if so, I don’t know why. If we’re going to have furry animals padding around the house, a kitten or two sounds better than allowing the mice to take over.
How Boo will react to the introduction of a kitten or two is more or less a foregone conclusion. She’s not whatever the cat equivalent of a people-person is. I think she tolerated Bonkers only because he was already established as the house cat when we adopted her as a kitten. When he eventuallyl grew so old and feeble that he couldn’t hold her back if she wanted to swat him off the top of the hill, she didn’t even bother pretending to tolerate him after that. Any other cat who wanders near our door gets hissed at, and she prowls back and forth growling with her puffed-up tail in the air for a half-hour afterwards. She’s not going to take it lightly if we introduce some young whipper-snapper to the house.
Luckily, I don’t care all that much about hurting Boo’s feelings because the way I see it, she’s falling down on the job. There are mice to be caught and the only cat on the premesis is totally unmotivated about catching them. More than a dereliction of duty, that seems like a betrayal of her species. And if Boo’s feelings get hurt, well, I’m not even her person. She comes to me when she wants to show somebody how she can claw the rug by the front door into a big jumbled ball, but when she wants to sit in a lap for hours, she goes to My Darling B, the woman who picked her out at the shelter and brought her to our home.
Boo the Cat gets called anything but her name. After we adopted her from the pet rescue center on Misawa Air Base, we named her Chessie and called her that for, oh, maybe a couple of weeks. Seemed like a good name at the time. But as she became more comfortable with us, she started playing games, and her favorite for a while was hide-and-seek. Poking her head out from around a corner or behind a door, she would make the strangled, gurgling sound she makes instead of meowing, and we would answer, “Boo!” because what else are you going to say when someone does that? And gradually, or not really so gradually I suppose, everyone came to call her Boo. It became so solidly established as her real name that, years ago, we stopped telling people her name is Chessie; now we just say she’s Boo.
But that’s not her only name. Depending on the situation, she’s also called: Boo-ness, because she’s kind of a princess; Boo-pants, because I have no freaking idea; and peanut-peanut, because My Darling B likes the sound of it, I guess. And those are just the ones I can think of right off the top of my head. Boo is apparently the cat of a thousand names.
The moment we heard it, we recognized the sound Boo was making as the “I’ve got a mouse for you” announcement. She’s getting better at catching mice; we’re getting better at understanding her communicating with her.
She didn’t hesitate to jump up on the bed and deposit the mouse, dead this time, at B’s feet. I scooped it up and took it out to the trash can while B heaped praise on Boo’s newfound skill as a mouse catcher. I don’t know why Boo is suddenly so determined to catch every mouse in the house, but I’m really very happy that she is. Now if only we could train her to drop them in the toilet and flush.
We were sitting up in bed reading last night when Boo came to the door howling in the weirdest way. I thought she might have been sick until My Darling B said, “Yah! She’s got a mouse!”
She did have a mouse. She was carrying it in her mouth and didn’t want to let it go, but wanted to let us know she had something for us. Hence, the weird noise. I climbed out of bed and started to try to figure out how to take the mouse away from her, but she was way ahead of me. She jumped up on B’s side of the bed and dropped the mouse at B’s feet.
B has an irrational fear of mice that makes her jump and squeal just like women and elephants do in old cartoons. I’m sure than if she wore petticoats, she would gather them up around her knees and jump on the nearest chair. When Boo dropped the mouse on the bedcovers, B yelped and jerked her feet back because her little gift from Boo definitely wasn’t going to use the “play dead” strategy. It started scampering all over the quilts right away, looking for a likely escape route. I grabbed a sock I’d discarded beside the bed when I climbed in, put it over my hand and started chasing the little booger around. It didn’t take long to catch, and while B heaped praise on Boo for being such a good mouser, I chucked it into the neighbor’s yard across the street. I sure hope he’s not reading this.