Monday, May 2, 2011

Alexander Ulysses English, Spring 1994-30 April 2011

It is with great sadness that I must report that our oldest boy kitty, Alexander Ulysses ("Alex", "Pookie Cat", "Pookie Uncle Alex", etc.), left us Saturday evening.  He had been suffering for some time from kidney failure and arthritis but it was his heart that was the real problem.  He had begun to decline on Thursday and we took him to the vet on Friday.  We decided to see what he wanted to do - I couldn't tell if he wanted to leave or if he just wanted to be left alone.  I had to go up to Mt. Pleasant for work but left him in the very capable hands of Auntie Jean, the cats' regular sitter.

Jean called me early Saturday afternoon to report that, while he was very weak and had eaten nothing to speak of since I left, that he was hanging in there.  I alerted the event organizers I would have to get out as soon as possible at the end of the event due to an impending death in the family and, with the assistance of my friends Nancy and Randy Fry, got out of the conference center in record time.  I did make it home in time to be with Alex; Jean informed me, when he started purring when I arrived at his side, that that was the first time she had heard him purr.

He was clearly struggling - he didn't want to go but his heart was giving out.  So, Uncle Tim came over and helped me get him to the emergency vet and we let him go with the with the same dignity with which he had lived the rest of his life with us.

Alex was a singularly wonderful cat.  My Housewarming Gift (he was under the yew tree in my back yard the day I moved in), he had a wonderful joie de vivre.  Alex's philosophy was that if someone had a lap and two hands, an accommodation could be made.  He was my secret weapon - even the most hardened cat hater or cat fearer was mere putty in his capable paws.

As with any relationship, we had our rituals over time.  Especially in his younger years, when I had an opaque shower curtain liner, he loved to get between the curtain and liner on the edge of the tub and bat at my legs; I, in turn, would get his tail all wet - it was so soft after he had cleaned it off.  We also did "Kisses and Rubs", when he would get up on the toilet seat after my shower and I would scratch around his head and neck and give him (literally) dozens of kisses on the top of his head.  I called him my "Itchy Boy" because he always loved a scratch or to be brushed; you knew you had hit a good spot when he would start trying to scratch the same area with his back foot.

He was pretty manic as a youngster, driving a number of the other cats crazy.  It was difficult to take a picture of him, not just because he was so black the camera didn't know on what to focus but because he wouldn't stop moving or - worse - he'd come right up to the lens to see what you were doing!

In the last year or so, Alex developed a very close and loving relationship with Dora.  They would wash each other's faces and heads (although I have to admit, she benefited more from this than he, from what I could tell) as we went to bed for the night.  I think he hung in as long as he did because of her, for which I am grateful.

We had a wonderful life together.  I am blessed that he was there for me for almost 16 years and that I was able to be there for him, especially at the end.