Have you ever had a pet that you loved because it reminded you of a thoughtful, caring, Human Being?
On August 27th, 2008 my best animal friend went out my back door to enjoy the Sun for the last and final time. Her name was Cupcake, and she was the beautiful, calico cat, who broke my heart.
She walked into a warm, gentle and calm day, or evening rather, because it was approximately 6pm when she lovingly brushed against my leg and indicated to me that she wanted the screen door opened, like a million times before, so she could go out to catch bugs, play, and enjoy the sunshine.
I don’t know what happened exactly, other than that I was tired and mindlessly-forgot her outside when I went to bed. I woke-up the next morning before 5am, in the middle of a dream where she was attempting to feed me. In the dream, I was sitting at my, our computer, hers and mine, and she had brought-and-placed a grasshopper on my keyboard before completely disappearing.
My eyes would not focus correctly and my voice came as a croak, sounding anything but Human as I frantically-stumbled to my back door, croaking, “CUPCAKE, CUPCAKE!”
I ran around my house searching and desperately calling from the front to the back, under my vehicles, under their hoods, in the front again, in the back again, all the while calling her name, and all the while dressed only in my underwear. Beginning to cross the street to expand my search, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t dressed suitably, so I ran back into my house and quickly-slipped into pants and a T-shirt. Shoeless, I searched two square blocks, calling, “CUPCAKE, CUPCAKE!”
One day passed, then one week, two weeks, and I knew that she would never come home again.
Throughout the first two weeks I prayed to God to help her find her way back to me if she was still alive and my hope remained.
By the third day of that sad incident, I was lonesome and had developed a serious bout of writer’s block. Nothing of any value would come and nothing made sense to me when I finally did get anything written.
When she disappeared I had several well paying, regular clients’ writing projects on the table. The deadlines came-and-went and I lost some valuable clients, plus $600.00 which I would have earned that week. The next week mirrored the first, in terms of clients, project completion and accepting projects.
I like to write when it’s quiet, so Cupcake and I used to do it late into the night, and many times, all throughout the night while listening to music together. On the eighth night after she’d disappeared, I played a song that until then I hadn’t realized reminded me of her. The song is by the Stereophonics. It’s called, “Dakota”. One verse goes like this:
“Wake up call, coffee and juice
What happened to you?
I wonder if we'll meet again
Talk about life since then
Talk about why did it end”
Listening subconsciously, I suddenly developed a huge lump in my throat and my eyes began to water, releasing a wet, watery substance that flowed-freely down my cheeks. I felt it as it landed on my chest and completed its journey. I listened to the song again and realized that the aforementioned verse was the impetus and Cupcake was the principle behind the unknown substance.
I’ve never told anyone about the song incident and this is the first time that I’ve put anything about my loss into writing. I’ve never cried for as long as I can remember and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m soft. Besides, I’m too tough and too strong. In that context, if you happen to read this humble writing, please avoid mentioning it to anyone, or I will surely lose my perceived status as a hard and seasoned warrior!
If you haven’t heard the song before, you can find and listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUHjDJxkcSE
I have a huge computer screen and Cupcake liked to position herself on the overhang between my keyboard drawer and screen, and when she felt that she needed attention, or that she was being neglected, on the keyboard itself.
We’d had Cupcake for about 6 years. I say about, because when someone first gave her to us because of a mouse that we’d previously-spotted in our residence, I didn’t want her and I only agreed because I knew that after she’d grown some that she’d serve as a deterrent to further mouse infestation. I think that I had it in the back of my mind to get rid of her after a while, I don’t really remember.
She began to grow on me when after about a year of watching and being with me alone at night, she hissed and slapped at my wife when my wife attempted to take something from near my computer. We call my wife “Cakes”. Cakes returned to the kitchen and informed me of the, in her words, “…near fatal attack”! I didn’t believe that Cupcake would take it upon herself to protect what she must have considered my property, and I told cakes that Cupcake was most likely yawning and stretching and that she had misinterpreted Cupcake’s actions. I didn’t believe that she would actually become defensive over my computer. Cakes swore-up-and-down that that’s just what Cupcake had done and challenged me to accompany her back to my computer where she said that I could see for myself. I went along, wanting to laugh but disguising it with a feigned cough.
My wife approached my computer hutch as far away from Cupcake’s location as possible and slowly extended her hand. Cupcake’s tail fluffed-up as she quickly got between Cakes and my computer, hissing, spitting and growling, and I laughed! I approached the hutch and reached, but Cupcake didn’t seem to notice me; her attention remained centered upon Cakes, and I laughed again!
I couldn’t figure it out at first, and it wasn’t until other family members informed me of Cupcakes’ menacing behavior toward them when they were near my computer that I finally began to realize that Cupcake was actually protecting my computer and everything on-and-about it.
Cupcake was friendly and affectionate with everyone away from our computer, hers and mine, but let anyone appear to be trying to touch it and she would get dingy!
One time my wife came into the living room while I watched TV and must have appeared to Cupcake to be threatening me, because Cupcake cuffed up her foot until Cakes made her retreat back into the kitchen.
I wasn’t paying attention to what Cakes was saying when Cupcake attacked, but she later told me that she had raised her voice to call my grandson because he’d left something that shouldn’t have been there, in the middle of the living room floor. Cakes said that she had been positioned in what could have been interpreted by Cupcake as a menacing position to me while calling our grandson. Cupcake had become my personal bodyguard besides being our, her and my, computer’s watchdog!
That incident reoccurred several times between Cupcake and anyone who was foolish enough to raise their voice while near me, even kids, but she never used her claws, she only slapped and made a lot of noise.
When Cupcake wasn’t with me at our computer, hers and mine, she spent a lot of time chasing and attempting to catch flies. She sometimes tried to feed me flies. She would suddenly-show-up from somewhere, spring-up-and-onto the hutch and lay her prize upon my keyboard. When she initially-began that behavior I would throw the nasty fly in my garbage can, or flick it on the floor, but she would retrieve it if at all possible and bring it back to me. She wasn’t satisfied until I simulated placing it in my mouth and chewing.
She only got into trouble once while trying to feed me. On that day, she brought a mouse in from outside and dropped it on my keyboard! I didn’t notice what she had in her mouth and when she dropped it and it rolled onto my lap, I hollered, jumped up, and she went down the hallway with me right behind her!
I hated grasshopper season when the screen and outer door had to be left open because of the heat and Cupcake could freely exit and enter. She was good, no, she was a World-Class grasshopper catcher, and sometimes she would bring me so many grasshoppers that I had no other option but to end her hunting excursions by closing a door.
Right now I would accept all the grasshoppers and flies in The World, and maybe even a mouse or two from Cupcake!
On Friday, September 20, 2008 my youngest son returned from work and told me of a co-worker’s generous offer of a kitten from a litter that her cat had recently had. I have a six-year-old granddaughter and an eight-year-old grandson whom we are helping my oldest son, raising them as a single parent, raise -- he has his own house but they prefer to stay with us most of the time. Anyway, when my youngest son told us of the offer, I shit you not, I was more excited than my granddaughter and grandson about the prospect of having another cat (and I’m 52 years young) but in my heart I knew that the hole in my heart would never, could never, be repaired.
I was wrong and I truly believe that God answers prayers.
I drove my son and grandson to the lady’s house during the same evening of her offer, fully doubting that anything could ever successfully replace Cupcake and still searching every fleeting shadow, hoping that she would magically appear.
Before my son and grandson exited my truck to look the kittens over, I gave them the run-down concerning what I would accept: No long hair because of my allergies and the hair-on-everything problem (Cupcake had long, shaggy hair and it irritated my allergies but I put-up with her because she was Cupcake); no males because Cupcake was a female, and to honor her I would only accept another female; and, no more than one cat, no matter what!
My directive was, as always with young people, effective, because when they returned from the lady’s residence they showed me one black and white, male kitten with long hair. I looked at the cat and verbalized my discontent, but before finishing, my grandson pulled another furry bundle from within his jacket along with, “Look papa, Cupcake!”
I turned the dome light on again, ready to verbalize more because that made two kittens, when I noticed the most beautiful calico cat since Cupcake, being gently held within my grandson’s hands, and she was a she!
She let out a tiny meow and tried to climb up the side of my face while I held her and scratched behind her ears like I used to do for Cupcake. I couldn’t believe the exact, physical resemblance to Cupcake and gave a silent “thank you” to God. When Cupcake first came into my life, she’d acted the same way and she had looked the same, except for a slight age and size difference.
The little bundles of fur weren’t even weaned from milk as we later discovered. When we tried to feed them they didn’t know what food was and they wouldn’t drink water. We tried soft canned food, hard food, raw hamburger, and an assortment of whatever else we could think of or whatever else was recommended, but nothing interested them. They failed to eat all that night and into the following evening.
They reminded us of small babies, with a wobbly, almost falling over walk and stance, and their heads appeared to be bigger than their bodies.
At approximately 5:00pm on the following evening we went shopping for milk, both canned and cartoned. Milk didn’t evoke an interest and the lady had refused to accept a return, saying that she didn’t want to get stuck with them and that if she did accept them, we might not take them again and then she might not find anyone to take them; their brothers and sisters were still with the mother and no one had shown the slightest of interest, so I kind of understood her reasoning, but not her refusing to allow the mother to feed them.
Despite not eating, they still played and bounced around, looking like large dust bunnies. My granddaughter said that they reminded her of cartoons.
Following one last discussion, we went to the store again and returned with an expensive milk formula called, Enfamil, with iron. They were so young and innocent that although they could smell the milk inside the dish, they did not know how to lap it up. They got all excited, stepped in it, spilled it, and stuck their small faces in it until they sneezed, but they simply couldn’t understand how to get it from there to their bellies.
We had another meeting where my wife suggested finding a bottle for a doll and feeding them with it. By then the store where we had a chance of locating a bottle that fit the description had closed, so I bought a bottle of Visine at an all night convenience store, figuring that if the solution could be applied to something as delicate as the eye, then, it wouldn’t be a danger to their digestive systems. I emptied the contents and rinsed the Visine bottle with hot water for about twenty thorough rinses, which took approximately fifteen minutes.
The kittens were still playing and bouncing around when I finished. I mixed a fresh-hot batch of Enfamil and squeezed and sucked the warm formula into the Visine container, which took more time. The first one to be force-fed was the smallest, the calico.
I put the tip of the Visine dispenser to her mouth and she would not open, all she did was scratch and meow. After a few tries, we realized that-that would not work, so we got a towel, wrapped her so that she could not use her claws and held her lying on her back. That worked, but with some deception. I had to first place the tip against her mouth and squeeze a few drops so the milk would run around her mouth. When she opened to lick the milk or whatever she was doing with her mouth, I would sneakily-slip the tip into her mouth and block her head so she could not move and gently squeeze until she coughed. Her cough didn’t come immediately. She would hungrily swallow as much as she could. Her cough indicated that she needed a break.
The black and white kitten’s feeding session went the same. They ate a half bottle each before we could tell that they had-had enough.
Let me see, it’s October 10, 2008, they wouldn’t touch solid food, even small amounts of soft, canned food when we placed tiny bits into their mouths until the second of October; which means that we nursed them like Human babies for about eleven days. Maybe we babied them for too long, I don’t know, or maybe they just enjoyed being lazy; who knows? In any case, they are alive, healthy and eating greedily.
I don’t remember who named Cupcake, but all eight of my beautiful grandchildren came together to name these two. They named the black and white male first. After a lengthy argument, they decided on, “Spots”. The calico female received her name without argument. The name givers unanimously decided upon, “Cupcake,” because the kitten strongly-resembles the first Cupcake and that’s fine with me.
At the moment I’m attempting to train the new Cupcake to stay on the overhang between my keyboard drawer and screen, but she keeps pouncing on and scratching my hands as I hammer-out this article!
-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Have you ever had a pet that you loved because it reminded you of a thoughtful, caring, Human Being?