Saturday, July 12, 2008

saying goodbye ... and hello

They say when one door closes, another opens.
Our door always seems to be open, however, at least where cats are concerned.
But we have gone through a bit of a “close/open” situation recently, albeit a bit out of order.
About six weeks ago, we opened the door to a cat that was only going to stay until we could have him tested, neutered and inoculated — and find him a home.
He had been hanging around our house for a few weeks, sleeping under our cars and begging for food and attention incessantly.
He was almost becoming a hazard, because he loved rubbing around our legs — as we were trying to navigate the steps from the deck to the sidewalk.
Because we didn’t want any kittens being produced thanks to him, we decided we should at least do the basics.
So in he came, with a vet appointment made. That first appointment is nerve-wracking, as you wait for the test results for FIV and feline leukemia.
“Negative for both,” the vet proclaimed, much to our relief. “And since he’s a stray, we can fast track him and neuter him tomorrow.”
Great, the sooner the better — the sooner we can find him a home.
So after the thorough checkup, blood tests and first round of shots, the critter was treated to being neutered.
Hey, he’ll thank us eventually, we figured.
And of course by now he had a name: Farkus.
Any fan of “A Christmas Story” will recognize the moniker.
You know the lines: “Scut Farkus! There he stood, between us and the alley. Scut Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So, help me, God! Yellow eyes!”
Yep, my daughter noticed immediately upon his arrival that he had yellow eyes, and dubbed him Farkus.
Not that he was staying, of course. But we had to call him something.
While all of this was going on, another story was playing out, however. A door was about to close.
My daughter’s cat, Meems, had been diagnosed with kidney failure around Christmas, and his downward spiral had accelerated in the past few months.
The huge weight loss, the listlessness, the various infections he couldn’t seem to shake.
Meems was 9, a “not old cat with very old kidneys,” as the vet had said.
He had been a barn cat, a “free” cat from a friend who owned a farm at the time. My daughter had gotten him when he was several months old, had his various ills treated and he grew into a “football player” cat: a bit bulky with no neck, I’d always say.
Now Meems weighed just over 5 pounds, down from his usual 13. When we took him into the vet at the end of June, we knew it would be the last visit. His breathing was labored because his lungs were filling with fluid; he was exhausted. The Meems we knew and loved had battled bravely, but was no match for this adversary.
Of course we stayed with him for that final shot. We petted him, we told him we loved him, we cried.
And as we said goodbye to one beloved member of our family, we knew we wouldn’t be saying goodbye to this new little “visitor,” Farkus.
No, the little gent who loves to follow you around, hopping up on his hind legs almost like a puppy, has found his home.
He’s about a year old, the vet estimates. He loves to play with cat toys. He’s a pale yellow, much lighter than our orange Meems.
He’ll never take the place of Meems. That’s not the way it works.
But he’s opened another door for us. And who could resist those yellow eyes.

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