Wednesday, August 6, 2014
So Long My Sweet Boy...
I have always waited for my kitties to name themselves and Pandora christened himself only few weeks after we adopted him as he quickly showed a talent for getting into nearly any container presented to him. Box, bag, dresser drawer and even a harp case, there was not a button, snap or zipper that could stop him and though we later discovered that his fluffy fur had concealed his decidedly male genitalia the name stuck.
He was one of the most clever cats I've ever known. One of his favorite games was fora toy to be hidden inside of a box which he would then find a way to open. The other was fetch, which I think he actually taught to me, not the other way around. He could play the game for hours, not stopping until he was short of breath.
He once saved our apartment from burning down when a jar that held a burning candle broke and fell into an open drawer of clothing. It was summer and we had a fan in the window blowing out to help draw the heat from the apartment. It also pulled all of the smoke from the room where flames were now crawling up the front of the dresser. He stood at the end of the hall growling and meowing, then he'd run to the couch to get our attention and run back down the hall crying loudly (he was never, ever a quiet cat). Finally we stood up and followed him down the hall were the flames were discovered and quickly extinguished.
Pandora's real trick though was to work his way into your heart. He loved people and always assumed that anyone he met wanted to share love. Always the best dressed in the room with his black and white tuxedo, he greeted all visitors at the door and would reach up to their legs with his front paws, a gesture that meant he desired to be picked up. I don't remember a time when any one refused and once he was their arms he would plant a kiss on the tip of their nose with his velvety tongue. He had a habit of looking whomever was petting him straight in the face and giving long, slow blinks that we called his "love eyes." It felt as though he was adoring you as much as you adored him. If you stopped petting him he would place his paw gently on your thigh or lightly paw your hand until you started again. He never used his claws. Eventually the paw somehow evolved into a high five which most folks never believed he did until they witnessed it. It then became yet one more game he was quite willing to play since the reward for each high five was of course, more love.
Every night he curled up at my feet and when his sister passed two years ago he took her place beside my pillow, curling up into a small ball just as she did. He woke me with kisses on the nose every morning to let me know it was time for breakfast.
His favorite food was chicken which he could smell from any room he was in. He was a rather polite beggar sitting tall and waiting until you were done knowing that of course you were going to set your empty plate down for him to lick clean. In the last few years of his life he would wait while I made and ate breakfast knowing that he would either get to lick the cereal bowl or receive a spoonful of the yolk of my poached egg.
He was always a chatty cat, chirping, meowing and yipping as he made his way through life. Towards the end as his hearing began to go he became much louder and more demanding, particularly when it came to closed doors or dinner time. As he aged arthritis in his hips slowed him down and thyroid problems caused him to lose weight as did the cancer that, though he managed to miraculously fight off tumors several times, would eventually end his life. But he never lost his love of people. Even with painful hips he rose to his feet whenever someone new entered the room and though he was slow to get there, every visitor was still greeted at the door. He still pawed to be picked up and he gave his soft and sweet high fives till the end.
These past few weeks his health had been growing worse. He slept far more and ate less. His weight dropped dangerously low. It was yesterday morning that he began to wheeze and when I took him to see his doctor an x-ray showed what I feared most. A tumor had grown in his upper chest and it was cutting off his airflow. Later that day he collapsed as he tried to stand. He tried to meow and barely squeaked. The ride back to the doctor was one of the saddest times of my life. My sweet boy was silent as we made our way and was barely conscious by the time we arrived. He died curled in my lap only a short time after that, his passing eased by gentle hands.
Pandora, Panda-bear, Pandy, Pan-Pan, Panda-boy, My Sweet Boy, My Little Boog, our little butler. You were in my life longer than most people I know today. I was 24 when we first met. So many things changed during those years but there was always you, with your sweet and gentle kisses, your bright eyes and tender paws. I see you everywhere I look today and I will miss you so very, very much.
I do hope that there is a place where your spirit lives. That perhaps you are reunited with your sister, Orange, that you are chasing butterflies and finding sunny spots to snooze in. I hope that there are many hands to pet you and noses for you to kiss. But even if there is not such a place, I do know that you will live on my memories and in my heart and in the hearts of the many more who came to love you.
Rest in peace my sweet boy. I love you always.