Friday, July 31, 2020

Elvis Has Left the Building

Eighteen or nineteen years ago we got two kittens from the SPCA.  The energetic little guys went about a week before we were able to come up with appropriate names.  The tuxedo kitten’s mask and wide eyes reminded me of the legendary masked swordsman so he became Zorro, although Bandit was a possibility because he stole any glove or sock he could find.  Our small Holestein patterned kitten had a birth defect that caused his butt to swivel when he walked — he became Elvis.

As they grew, Zorro proved himself to be pure cat: treating laps with disdane, rejecting catfood he once liked, leaping onto dressers and counters with no preparation, seeming to levitate in mid-stride.  I used to call Elvis my dog: he came when I called, his breath smelled bad, and he farted.  The last two traits abated when we found an appropriate food.  Though he and Zorro spent time together, former cage mates at the shelter, they had different interests — Zorro dropping stuffed toys into shoes he found lying around the house, or placing the toys in compromizing positions — Elvis occupying my lap while I wrote, or stalking his tail, or proudly ferrying one of his favorite stuffed toys from room to room announcing his arrival with vocal feline pride. 
Elvis definitely matured into a people cat, though young children sent him into hiding.  His favorite adult, my older daughter Laura.  My lap was his preferred location until she arrived on one of her visits from Rochester, at which time I became extraneous.  No one else ever came close to that relationship.   
Elvis hated car rides, probably because the only destination was the vet.  He would howl in the carrier snd pretty soon literally lose his shit!  Common routine on our arrival meant walk in and hand the smelly carrier to the vet tech waiting at the door, sit in the waiting room until it was our turn then meet Elvis, clean and damp, in the exam room with the vet.
Today was different.
Today he nestled in my arms as Carol drove to the Gardiner Animal Hospital, his final journey.  No howling.  No loose bowels.  He watched out the window, occasionally turning to look at me, a question in his eyes.  The hardest thing I had to do then was hand him through the car window to the waiting tech.  We broke eye contact finally as I released him and they left.  This damned pandemic kept me from being with him in those final moments, so I waited.  Tears came.  Finally the tech returned and, with condolences, handed me a sturdy cardboard box. I opened the coffin-like lid and touched my old friend.   Elvis is buried in our cat cemetary alongside the other six who have brightened our lives over the thirty-four years we’ve lived here.  As many as five at the same time.   RIP my friend.  July 30, 2020.