Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For Wicket

The first year we moved to Ontario , we lived in a very small Junior one bedroom apartment on Jarvis Street in Toronto. It was cramped and noisy, and all kinds of interesting characters came out to play at night…well mostly at night. I was missing home pretty bad- everything here seemed so crazy to me, the speed of life, the insanity of some of my neighbors, and the lack of community. I was having trouble adjusting to life in the big smoke. Even though I had Don, I was lonely.

Shortly after the New Year, I got a really bad flu, and I was home for days. It was January 8th and bitterly cold. I remember crawling back into bed that afternoon, Don tucked me in set a glass of juice on the side table and told me he was going to the store to pick up a few things. I promptly passed out in a Tylenol Cold induced haze.

I woke up to the sound of Don unlocking the apartment door. He had a kind of grin on his face that made me worry; I was about to ask him what the heck he had been up to when he produced a cage from behind his back. Inside there was a little black and white fur ball we named Wicket. This little kitten was to be my birthday gift- even though Don is allergic to cats, indeed Don never really liked cats. As Don was handing the little kitten over to me he made sure I was clear on one condition: “The cat cannot be allowed in our room. That has to be a cat hair free zone; I need to be able to sleep”. That sounded reasonable so I agreed.

The first night Wicket cried and cried and cried to be let in our room. It was a long night.

The second night, Don said: “Maybe he is lonely, let’s let the cat in the room but not on the bed. He can never get on the bed.” That sounded reasonable so I agreed.

It wasn’t long that night before the cat scaled the bedclothes and crawled on top of the bed. Purring the whole time. Don would pick the cat up and put him back down each time until he finally gave up. Wicket was both persistent and smart. Those first few nights Wicket wisely slept at the foot of the bed. But as days and weeks past, he slowly moved up to sleep at our knees, then cuddled into the small of our backs, and finally we woke up one morning to find Wicket between us, with his head on the pillow and his body tucked under the sheets. He was smart I tell ya. Strangely, Don was not suffering any allergic reactions.

This cat did not know he was a cat. He was part dog I am sure, perhaps that is why Don did not have any allergies to Wicket. Our cat would fetch. If you threw a stuffed toy, he would run after it, pick it up in his teeth and strut back to you like a lion on the Serengeti. When he reached your feet, he would drop his kill at your feet and step back proudly, waiting for you to pet him and toss it again. He could do this forever.

If Wicket found something interesting or when he really wanted your attention, he would stand up on his two hind legs hold his paws up like a Prairie Dog and sway back and forth like a cobra. He could hold this stance for a long time, and it unnerved many a guest to the apartment. Also, he did not meow- he trilled. It was the oddest little noise.

When we moved into our new home in Whitby we noticed more of Wicket’s interesting little quirks. Wicket loved all dogs, was not afraid to run up to the biggest of them on days he escaped outdoors, sniff them, walk along side them. Try to talk to them. Most dogs shied away from him at first, but warmed up to him before long. Cats however, were a different issue. If a cat came to our door, or to our back patio Wicket turned into a feral little creature. His eyes would get black and wide, he would puff up to twice his size and make this woofing sound, sometimes even throwing himself at the door in a desperate attempt to get at the cat on the other side. It was scary to watch Wicket go bye-bye.

While Wicket fiercely guarded the house from other cats he was very welcoming to other visitors. If you knocked on our door Wicket would be there to great you and once you were in the house you were going to be cuddled. He insisted. He would see you out too- walk you to the porch and all.

Because we bought a new house, and because we bought one from Liza homes, that first year we had a steady stream of contractors come in to repair or redo things around the house. Wicket was an indoor cat- so we had it on our standing orders that if a contractor came to our house; they were not to let the cat out. One day I happened to be at home when one of the contractors came by to fix the leaking bathtub upstairs. Wicket watched the guy the whole time, and when he was ready to leave followed him downstairs. The man came and spoke to me about the repairs, and commented on how friendly Wicket was: “He sat there the whole time” He said. “He purred all the time, and just sat at my feet”. He looked down at Wicket who was circling his legs while he spoke, and petted him. Then he gathered his stuff and headed for the door. I was making supper so I figured he could see himself out. A few moments later I realized that the contractor was still there; he had opened the door and closed it several times, but had not left. I peaked out, my hands full of dough. The contractor looked at me, a little chagrined he said: “The cat won’t let me out”

Then I saw the light bulb over his head. He started laughing.

This is the House!” he said. His face red, tears streaming down his face”. This is the house they were talking about!

By this point I was curious and laughing myself, the guy was just howling and it was kind of infectious. “What are you talking about?” I asked.

Kirk was here last week fixing your ceiling I think, and he had to call the guys from the site to come let him out. He saw the order not to let the cat out, but the cat would not leave his feet long enough to let him open the door and squeeze out. We asked him why he didn’t just pick the cat up, step out and then toss him back in, and he said the cat was not normal. He would not pick him up.”

Apparently Kirk was teased mercilessly about having to be rescued from a cat, and the story had made the rounds.

As Wicket got older he started to get a series of bladder infections which caused him to pee in places he should not. Antibiotics and special food only kept him clear for so long. The poor guy had all the fur licked off his paws and his belly was raw from licking. A few weeks ago we noticed a furball on the top of his head. We let it go, because Wicket usually works those out himself. But he hadn’t, and he wasn’t himself. His infection was back we thought at first. When Don tried to cut the furball off himself we discovered a lot more was going on.

Wicket was put down two weeks ago now. I still find myself listening for the sound of his paws patter across the floor at night and waiting for him to hop up on the bed. Don has to stop him self from making sure all the toilet seats are up and clean (Wicket would only drink out of the toilet). I have a cold now, and I miss how Wicket seemed to know I was sick, he would stay near me all day, and sit on my feet to keep them warm.

I will never have another pet. Telling the vet it was ok to put Wicket down was very difficult. Saying goodbye to Wicket hurt. But boy am I grateful I had that little furball in my life. I know some people will laugh at this and wonder why someone would get so upset over a cat- but the thing is he wasn’t just a cat to me; he was a member of the family.


Jay said...

Ahh Nadine ! I have been down that road and it is a very very difficult one and my heart goes out to you.

Steve said...

My heart goes out to you. Making that decision must have been so difficult.

Jo said...

I'm not a cat person at all but can see how the little buggers use their cuteness to weasel their way into your heart. I'm very sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was an awesome cat.

rcashin said...

Hardest thing I ever did - take our 18-yr-old "Brighteyes" to the vet. We DID get another one though. A beautiful Maine Coon looking beast that my son named Yuki. Far as I can tell, Yuki is Japanese for "I kill and main humans"

Anonymous said...

I didn't laugh because i have my boy Lex snoozing beside me and he has just finished some anti-biotics for his bladder concerns and he has a patch of baldness on his back where he has pulled/chewed the hair from...he's still relatively young at 7 i'm hoping the anti-anxiety meds will alleviate his pulling out his own hair...

nadinebc said...

I hope Lex is feeling better soon.