Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sidebar Into My Life Outside of Infertility

I've been blogging since August and what do you really know about me except I'm married to Mr. DD and have a 4 year old son named X and am suffering from Secondary Infertility? How about a break from all of that day-to-day stuff and let me introduce you to our two cats: Moe and August (yes, that's her name). We will return to our regularly scheduled program on Friday.


In October 1990, the same month I was moving from Big City, Nebraska to Small Town, Nebraska, we had a snowstorm so severe in its precipitation and temperature that most towns cancelled Halloween. Yes, that’s right – cancelled Halloween and broke the heats of hundreds of trick-n-treaters. During that storm Mr. DD drove a car from the parking lot into his employer’s garage to get it prepped for body repair. As the car sat there, a small ball of orange fur shot out from underneath the car, probably hiding in the engine compartment or wheel-well seeking shelter from the weather and hid in the darkest corner of the shop. Mr. DD found the little ball, and attempted to pull him out from under whatever piece of equipment or cabinet it was hiding under and was promptly and painfully bit on the hand, right through the thick leather gloves he was wearing. But Mr. DD did not relinquish his hold of what turned out to be a 4 or 5 month old orange tabby kitty.

Not wanting to throw the little fireball back into the storm and no one else in the shop was volunteering to give the little guy a home, even if temporary, Mr. DD took him home. The moment he release the still frightened kitten into the house, it took off again for the darkest corner it could find. Mr. DD up to that point had been a dog-lover, but had recently lost his husky puppy to a congenital disease and was not up to taking care of a bad-tempered animal, much less a – dare I say it? – CAT. But as gruff-looking Mr. DD looks, he is as soft-hearted. He went out and bought some cat food and litter pan and left it out for the kitty, which at this point, could not be found. The next day the food was gone, so he put out more and within a few minutes, the kitty showed up and devoured more food. Mr. DD cautiously approached it and gently touched his fur and began petting him.

Within a few days, that cat, now with the moniker Moe, let Mr. DD become his provider and keeper. It was within the first gettingtoknowyou days while Mr. DD was petting Moe in one of those heavy-palmed, start-at-the-nose-and-stroke-down-the-whole-body-and-end-at-the-end-of-the-tail petting strokes that Mr. DD discovered that the tip of Moe’s tail had been damaged by frost-bite and literally came off in his hand! Mr. DD said that Moe never even flinched and that the tip must have just been more of a “cap” to the tail then anything. It measured no more than a half-inch, but to this day, people look at Moe and wonder what looks so “off” not knowing that his tail is just a tad shorter than normal.

But that’s not the only odd thing about Moe’s appearance. He has the underbite of a bulldog. Everyone who has met Moe says he looks angry, but again they are not sure why, but it’s due to that little underbite. His orange tabby marks are comparable to Morris of TV fame and he has the orange eyes to match. He was beautiful in his prime, in spite of the short tail and underbite.

I say “was” as he is now just a shell of what he used to be. In June 2000, Moe was diagnosed with diabetes. His prognosis was not good: liver failure, blindness, tumors, etc. as well as a much-shortened life-span were all par for the course. Without treatment, which has consisted of 2 shots of humulin/day every day for the past 5 ½ years, he would have been dead by now. But even 5 ½ years is beating the odds. His eyesight is certainly failing. He weighs a mere 7 pounds, if even that much; and has lost all of the major canine- and molar-teeth that cats ever get, which we would find one-by-one, year-by-year, in the house. He looks mangy and when Mr. DD pets him (which I will not due to severe allergies) hair flies from his bony body.

He also doesn’t move as well, of course. The muscles in his back leg are sunk in and fail now to get him onto the counter where he was allowed to drink out of the sink. And he would drink, and drink, and drink, AND drink. His thirst is never quenched. We had to place two litter pans in the basement due to the unending urine output – all diabetic related.

There was a time when he was in his prime that I was sometimes afraid to play with him as he would get rather excited and could easily sink in his claws and rip out one of my arms. He was never declawed as the vet didn’t recommend it for a kitten of his age when Mr. DD took him in for his first vet visit shortly after he had taken to Mr. DD as an animal-in-love. One time, Moe was on his leash outside on the deck (Yes, we leashed him, and he LOVED those moments outside rubbing on every bush and tree he could come in contact with and eating as much grass as he could sneak!) when our neighbor’s very large, black lab caught sent of C-A-T. I was already outside and was warning the kids to make sure they keep the dog away from Moe, because 1) I was worried about how well Moe could defend himself while leashed; and 2) I wasn’t going to pay the vet-bill when Moe with one swipe could remove the dog’s ear like a master Samurai. They didn’t heed my warning and within seconds, the dog was on our deck trying to get to know Moe who promptly made hamburger out of that lab’s nose with a 1-2 combo bite and claw. That dog took off with its tail literally between its legs, yelping in pain, and I shot the kids an “I told you so,” look and I proudly brushed Moe’s ruffled fur back into place. That was one of his best moments.

He was also a godsend at our old house. It was built in the 30’s and barely 800 square feet in total living space. What does every old home have to have? Bats, of course. When do they come out? At night, of course! But, we rarely had to worry about a midnite run to the fridge or bathroom and find ourselves with a crazed bat in our hair as Moe could with one leap, pick them out of the air and after tiring of their flapping and squeaking, end their lives. Sure we worried about rabies, but we kept his shots up-to-date and I found the only problem with such activity was discovering the little bat-corpses by his food bowl the next day. Ewww! (Did you shudder just now?) And one day, he saved me from a bat, which by my estimates was as big as an eagle and had the teeth of a great-white shark. OK, maybe not, but if you have ever had a bat circling your head in a small room, that’s what your perception would be. I was home alone and in the kitchen in broad daylight when a bat flew in out of no-where! After some manic screams and movements akin to the dancing abilities of Elaine Bennis on Seinfield, the bat perched atop one of our cabinet doors, hanging upside-down by its creepy little clawed feet. In an act of sheer stupidity and desperation, I escaped to the basement and brought up Mr. DD’s BB gun; pumped and primed to go. I launched 3 little bb’s at that furry winged mouse: 2 bb’s imbedded into the pine cabinet doors within an inch of each side of the bat; the 3rd hit the mark and it lost it’s grip and fell onto the floor which succeeding in eliciting more screaming and dancing from me. Moe watched all of this from the doorway with a bored smirk on his bulldog-face and only became interested when the bat hit the floor…because IT WAS STILL ALIVE! What the fuck am I going to do now?! I can’t put the barrel of that bb gun to its head the size of a dime and put it out of its misery. Poor defenseless little mammal (funny how my attitude flip-flopped, isn’t it?). Before I could think of what to do next, Moe had jumped on top of him and finished him off mercifully. I swept up the lifeless body onto a newspaper and deposited him in the trash outside. Thank goodness Moe had been there. I thought he deserved a Medal of Heroism. The editor, the chief of police and major of Small Town did not.

Shortly after Mr. DD and I got married, in a moment of gullibility, I brought home and very small, undernourished kitten from my Mom and Dad’s farm. She was barely weaned which can be ascertained by the color of a kitten’s eyes, and in this case were still blue. A fully weaned kitten’s eyes, that is, not of Siamese heritage, will loose their blue-milk-fed color and turn their adult color. Anyway, we named her August. She has been the bane of Moe’s existence since Day 1. In his food; in his favorite lounging spot on the pappasan; and godforbid, in Mr. DD’s lap. When we first brought her home, I thought Moe would jump her as if she was just a mere rat and dispose of her little body in the litter box. Instead he seemed frightened of such a weird little creature. She wanted nothing more than to play, and every time she approached him playfully hopping without any grace in her body, he would turn and jump to the window sill, too high for her to reach, and glare down at her with angry orange eyes. During one of those rare treats when I would have a tuna-fish sandwich, I would let them lick out the tuna-juice from the can (we NEVER fed the cats people-food, it’s HORRIBLE for them). August, being just the runt she still was, nearly fit into one of those cans. Moe, not to let HIS treat go to some…underling! was not going to accept this intrusion into his treat. He nudged the can from under her little face and promptly stepped on the top of her head with his front paw and finished licking out the can. Picture the cartoon where the tall man fends off the swinging blows of a much shorter man by placing a palm against the latter’s forehead, which is leaning in with the momentum of the blows. That’s what Moe did to August. She was powerless with her head immobilized in such a way. Mr. DD and I took a picture, just to prove to people we were not joking.

August is now 8. Moe just turned 14 this past fall. My son X, LOVES August (Auggie), who is a trooper around his rough-housing, tail-pulling antics. Moe will only tolerate X, but anyone who brings a curious baby or toddler over is warned very seriously to not let the baby touch Moe, who cannot bear the overly ambitious and loud attention of a child. He is a grumpy, sick, old man.

We don’t know if Moe will make it much longer. He has months where he appears to gain weight and has more energy followed by much longer and more severe months of lethargy and such sickly appearance, visitors fear he will drop dead at their feet when he comes to sniff “hello.” Mr. DD will himself be sick with grief when Moe is gone. They are best of friends. Moe is the only cat I know that will come every time Mr. DD either whistles or makes kissing noises, and it’s only for Mr. DD that he will do that for. Everyone else, including me, gets that “are you fuckin’ kidding me?” look when I try to call him.

I am not a cat person, but I’m not a dog person, either. One’s love of animals is highly problematic when that person is allergic to anything that has fur, plus any type of reptile and bird. How have I dealt with my allergies for this long? For anyone who has endured allergy shots, you know that they give you the shots to build up a tolerance, and frankly they’re crap. I have built an immunity for the most part against Moe and August. Exposure to any other animal sends me into a sneezing fit, which triggers my asthma. Sorry, but removing your animal from my immediate vicinity will not prevent this from happening unless all the furniture and carpet is brand-spankin-new. Please keep this in mind for any of your friends who have allergies to the animals you may keep in your home.

Even though I am not able to completely enjoy the company of animals or really appreciate them for more than what they are, I have to admit that when Moe uses up his last of his 9 lives, I will miss him. X will miss him. Auggie will miss him. And Mr. DD will be devastated. I write this as a tribute to the many years of enjoyment he has brought to us and I hope in Cat Heaven, they have a special spot on a window seal just for him.

10 Punches:

At 5:13 PM, Blogger LeggyP said...

I had 2 cats growing up that I was very attached to. We got them when I was 4 and a half. The first one died a few months after I graduated from college, and the second one died just before I turned 24. So they were an essential part of my growing up.
I'm now incredibly allergic to all things with fur and could never have a pet here. In some ways I'm glad (less mess, furniture is intact, etc.), but in other ways I feel bad that my son won't get that pet experience.

At 6:17 PM, Blogger Cricket said...

What a beautiful tribute. We're in the same boat here with Sadie. So bony, yet happy, too.

I had a cat named Moe, 1992-1999. He, too, was a yellow cat. Although he was the biggest cat I ever had, he was so skiddish, but loved to walk around rubbing on me. Ex cruelly told me on Mother's Day that Moe had been attacked/hauled off in the night at our old house (the renter was a friend who kept 3 cats for us) and I will never forgive him for telling me that way. Moe was sweetness personified and I loved him all the more.

I, too, am exceedingly allergic. Outwardly, I am more allergic to dogs (per skin tests and knowledge due to general exposure = asthma and hives), but RAST (blood) tests show equal levels of allergy per IgE. Strange. I'm just glad I can generally keep cats, although I don't dust like I should for fear of stirring it up. (Good excuse, huh?)

At 7:51 AM, Anonymous Erin said...

Isn't it funny how animals stir up feelings in us and good memories?

It's a great tribute, and I hope Moe makes it a little while longer.

At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Kris said...

I'm dealing with that with my puppy from when I was growing up- and it sure isn't easy. I hope he keeps defying the odds for a little longer. =)

At 1:44 PM, Blogger The Queen Mama said...

Awww...now I went and got the sniffles. Your tribute made me think of our beloved cat Bunny, who went to Kitty Heaven this past May after being a loving companion for 11 years. I still miss her...sigh...

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Catizhere said...

My Siberian husky (Blue) got out of the yard & ran away almost 5 years ago. It's what Siberians do. They RUN. Then run some more. We never found her this time. Almost 2 months after she left, I was driving home in a downpour & just kept thinking that she was out in the rain somewhere. She hated to be wet. I had to pull off the road & just sat in the car crying. We never did find out what happened to her.

I still have a picture of Blue on my corkboard at work. I still miss her.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Cricket said...

Good luck in the morning. I'm thinking of you.

At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Kath said...

What a sweet story, DD. I love the way your husband was turned from a dog person to a Moe person. I also laughed at the image of August being kept off by a paw on her head...

Good luck today. I'll be thinking of you and wishing you the best, my dear.

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Nico said...

It sounds as if Moe has been a great addition to your lives.

I've heard of people being allergic to cats and dogs before, but reptiles? that's a new one!

Thinking of you...

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Thank you for sharing Moe with us. He reminds me of some tabbies we've had in the past. I'm sorry he is old and sick. It's sad. He's been a wonderful kitty.


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