Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Legacy of the Orange Wonder

If, as Leonardo da Vinci says, "The smallest feline is a masterpiece," then OJ was a ceiling-spanning work of epic proportions. Life to OJ was a big, fat juicy burger with cheese, pickles and special sauce; to be devoured with gusto and lots of napkins. He lived large.

Becoming an indoor cat receiving sub-q fluids was no big deal for him, at first. After all, he was O.J., the Podge, superstar. Rules and diseases did not apply to him. Rule #1 - no cats allowed in the bedroom. As you can see from the picture, not only did he get in the bedroom and on the bed, he got into the absolute geometric center of all the pillows. Rule # 2 - cats are not allowed on the furniture. I don't have the pictures to prove his utter disdain for this rule, but trust me - he got on every piece of furniture in the living room and den. Tables, too. Somehow he knew better than to try the chairs in the dining room, but there were a few mornings when we found him asleep on the dining room table, snoring.

So for awhile, we dealt with it all. Chelsea had to learn to deal with this big oaf galumping all over the house, eating out of all the food bowls and stealing precious lap time. Diablo found a serious playmate in his favorite game of "Let's Run So Loud They Think They're Being Invaded by Elephants!" My petite mother-in-law who lived with us delighted in the purry lap-warmer kneading her arm and making what she called "mushy-mushies."

After the holidays, OJ grew increasingly grumpy whenever it came time for the sub-q. He'd run from me as soon as he saw the bag; I was having to hold him firmly and listen to some really foul language throughout the process. His appetite began to drop off.

I tried to ignore the signs but I'd been down this road before. In March of 2011, he started hanging out by the sliding door. He wanted to go OUT. We started letting him out more and more to spend time with his old buddy, Smokey. This picture doesn't really convey his shrunken frame - he looks fairly normal. But for a cat that had weighed close to 16 pounds, it was now obvious to all of us that his time was winding down. One evening toward the end of March, he told me clearly that he did not want to come inside any more, and I was just going to have to accept it. He still got his fluids, now twice a day, but he returned to his beloved backyard at the end of each ordeal.

This is the last picture we took, on April 12, 2011. Smokey and I knew we had done all that we could as caregivers.

It's hard to say goodbye to a pet for any reason. It's especially hard when they have been with you for such a long time, and have made an indelible impression upon your soul. OJ had such an impact on all of us, both human and feline. I will write another post about Tabitha's astounding reaction to OJ's demise. It threw all of us for a loop.

I'm happy that I can now think back about our time with OJ and smile. We all feel so lucky that he chose us as his family so many years ago. I leave you with a picture that sums up this wonderful cat in so many ways, taken in the summer of 2000. Hakuna Matada! Sleep well, my friend.

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