He came into our lives almost ten years ago in the late fall. I can’t remember the exact date mostly because I did not take note of it. What I do remember with great clarity and affection is the moment this rambunctious little cat came barreling into our hearts. We had been “dog people” all of our married lives and had adopted and lived with four wonderful diggedy dogs who have long since crossed over the rainbow bridge. Our kids were grown and we were devoting a lot of our free time to golfing. We did not think it was fair to adopt another dog or two who might be forced to spend a lot of time alone while we were out playing.
Our daughter was living with us at the time-she and her two cats, Kosho and Baguette, who we came to know, love and appreciate despite our then limited experience with felines and their feline-ish ways. When our daughter moved out a year later we were left cat-less. I will never say who we missed more, but suffice to to say it was easier to adopt a cat than it was to adopt a grownup daughter, so that it what we decided to do.
With great trepidation and excitement we visited a couple of shelters until I laid eyes on an orange female kitten who absolutely stole my heart. My husband was not convinced, so we kept looking in the other cages, but my eyes and my heart kept darting back to this little darling who lay sleeping next to her sister. Suffice it to say, we came home with our Bella girl, who graces our life with her serene way of being.
A month or so went by and, being the suckers that we are for furry beings, we decided that Bella should have a companion. Little did we know what we were in for when we visited our vet to take a look at a few rescued cats who were in need of homes and loving guardians. We visited with this very fluffy ball of a thing who promised, by virtue of her coat, to shed a ton in our home. I am not proud to say that I discarded the possibility of adopting her based on this superficial preference of mine.
Wait a sec,
the technician said,
There is one other kitten here who is available for adoption. I will get him.
Oops! I thought to myself, I don’t really want a male cat, but decided in that moment to be open minded. That is when a door opened and out burst a very funny looking and very tiny black and white kitten with over sized ears, a shrimpy, weird, damaged looked tail and a personality the size of the room in which we were standing. He darted here and there, investigating everything, batting at what he could reach, growling at the fluffy little kitten who looked at him quizzically.
His name is Chip. He was found on the street with his mother, who is also up for adoption.
We played him for a bit, hemmed and hawed back and forth until my husband said:
We have to take him! He is so ugly that if we don’t no one else will.
And that is how little one pound Chip became a member of our family. We bundled him up and took him home. We liked his name. We thought it suited him, so we decided not to change it. Soon after we adopted him, he started making sounds like a monkey. You can guess the rest of the story here. His name morphed into Chimp and them Chimpy. We had lots of terms of endearment for him – Chipper, Chimpy Boy, Chipper-Dipper, Chimp a Limp and so on. He answered to them all. He was very accommodating that way.
In time, Chimpy grew into a beautiful cat, but that is not what we valued most about him. We loved him for his Chimpy-ish ways.
Chimpy loved to eat. There was no question of leaving food out for the other cats to nibble on during that day as cats are wont to do. Chimp would have eaten it all in one fell swoop. He always wanted his fair share, as my husband would say.
He would often be waiting by the front door or the top of the stairs when he would hear us come in, to greet us or maybe to be first in line for the food.
He was mischievous, chasing Bella around the house, and play wrestling with our cat Rosie (yes, we have another cat).
When we would get ready to change the sheets on the bed he would come running from wherever he was to jump under the contoured sheet and lay there as we piled on and tucked in the sheets, covers and blankets. We would poke at him fondly and say:
He loved this game. We could hear him purring loudly from underneath the blanket. Often he would get so comfortable that he would fall asleep as we exited the room, leaving behind a funny looking lump in the middle of the bed.
Chimpy was a “cuddler”. He would sit in my lap on a pillow, purr loudly and stretch his little neck up to be scratched. Sometimes he would even lay his head on my chest completely content with his place in our lives. He would sleep with us at night and even for afternoon naps. He seemed to have a innate sense that we had just hit the hay. He would magically appear and tuck himself behind my knees or lay on my husband’s chest when he was taking a power nap. Every morning around five he would sit between our heads and purr loudly, asking to be let under the covers for a snuggle. It was such a lovely and comfortable feeling having him there.
Christmas was Chimp’s favorite time of the year. He would run excitedly around the house when my husband would bring up the box that held the tree. He could hardly wait for the tree to be up. Forget the bells and baubles-that wasn’t important or noteworthy to our Chimp. The moment the tree was upright and the skirt was securely fixed, Chimp was under it and settled in for the entire holiday season, coming out only to eat, to use the litter box and to sleep with us at night.
But Chimpy had quite a few health issues. He would frequently have these digestive disturbances that would leave our normally voracious cat unable to eat much of anything. We would take him to the vet and by trial and error they seemed to be able to get him back on track. He also had Feline Stomatitis, a dental condition in which the immune system views the teeth as foreign and attacks and destroys them. Chimpy had three dental surgeries, the last one in September of 2014 during which the vet removed of all of the remaining offending teeth. His health improved dramatically after that and I was hopeful that the infected teeth and gums were the cause of his digestive issues. But what we hope for so desperately and what we get are not always in alignment.
Chimpy got sick again and this time the vet’s efforts were to no avail. I tried everything to get help for him. I tried anitbiotics, anti nausea meds, antacids, easily digestible food. I agreed to an ultrasound which showed an issue with his right kidney which the doctors were confident they could treat successfully with the right protocol. Chimpy stayed at the vet getting fluids and would rally and eat. He fought them every step of the way growling, scratching, being obstinate and what they euphemistically called “grumpy”. He did not like being manhandled by strangers and he would show his displeasure at every turn. I would bring him home only to have him once again stop eating and drinking. Back to the vet we would go.
This past Tuesday my dear, feisty, in your face Chimpy was laying on our bed where he spent most of his time now. I lay down with him and looked into his eyes and I knew, in that instant, that he had given up. The determination to get better was gone. My heart sank. Wednesday afternoon, after a last ditch effort by the vets to bring him around, I received a call filled with the words no one wants to hear.
There is no hope.
I instructed them to set up a room for euthanasia and told them that I was on my way. When I arrived at the vet I was ushered immediately into a room that had been set up with a soft bed, a little candle, and the injections that would set my Chimpy free. He was brought into the room in the caring arms of a technician and placed on the little makeshift bed. I was left alone to say my goodbyes to the little boy who had brought me so much joy in my life. I picked him up, cradled him in my arms, looked into his eyes, thanked him, told him that I loved him and would always remember. He looked back at me, took a few labored breaths and died in my arms.
I brought Chimpy home in a blanket filled box which I placed on our bed where he had always loved to sleep. When my husband came home, we buried Chimpy in a spot where we would often find him sitting. I put his collar on him and included a little note in case anyone comes across his grave in the years to come. I want them to know that here lies a cat who had a funny name and an even funnier tail, a cat who was loved and who loved us in return, a cat who lived life to the fullest, a being who mattered.
Annie’s Vegan View
Love does not discriminate when it comes to who we love.
Some of the most wondrous loves of our life can be our furry companions.
I have no doubt that Chimpy loved and valued us as much as we did him.
Even though I am heartbroken, even though our bed is much too big and lonely without him, even though I couldn’t save him in the end, I am thankful for the years spent with him and ever so grateful for the opportunity to say goodbye. I am so glad that he waited for me to get there.
…to the moon and back, Chimpy, to the moon and back! Safe journey and happy trails.
May all beings be happy and free.