By Cathy B. Bridges
All my life, I have had a pet. As a child, I always had a dog because my dad was a dog lover and I never had a cat because my parents did not like them. Being an animal lover, and a child, I was not picky and probably would have tried to make a pet out of a skunk if given a chance.
My first experience with a cat was when our daughter was young. I don’t even remember where we got it, but the kitten was a cute little devil. That cat would sneak up behind you and attack! We did not know what to do except to find it another home. My daughter’s friend took that burden over because she had more experience with cats.
Quite a few years went by, and one day when at a friend’s house, we found out that their white cat Casper had a litter of kittens in a closet. Our daughter would check on them off and on. Somehow a feral cat got in and killed every one of the kittens, but the one on the bottom. Pauley was solid black, and we brought him home. He was not friendly, but lived with us for 17 years and wound up being my cat. Pauley and my daughter fought like siblings, so he favored me and would not have much to do with her.
Next, she had a Maine Coon mix named Chloe, which was dark gray, almost black. Chloe was a sweet cat but only wanted to be with our daughter. She moped around a lot, dragging her furry little tail. Chloe lived to be approximately eight years old. She had an enlarged liver and was so sick; my daughter chose to have her put down. That was a sad day.
Later my daughter got a black cat with a few white spots and named her Fiona. She is not very friendly, but recently she has become a little more used to me. I don’t try to pet her much because those claws are sharp!
I mentioned all the other cats only in leading up to my star cat, Albie. Five years ago, I brought a 13-year-old Maine Coon home from a friend’s house. Their other cat was mean to him, and I wanted his last years to be great. Now that I know him better, I wonder if it was because he would eat her food. He gets in to Fiona’s food and water, although he has the exact same thing. I guess that is his way of showing seniority. He is a pig when it comes to eating and if his bowl gets empty, he will start slapping at my foot and arguing with me. That boy is a talker. He is not loud, just quite vocal.
Albie is a lover not a fighter. I have been around him off and on since he was a kitten, and he can be quite timid. That could be because he saw his sister killed by a coyote when they were young. I was told he came running home, begging to come in. He did not want to go back out for a long, long time.
His name is Albert, but everyone calls him Albie. He is gray and white, such a handsome boy and quite the little gentleman. He makes an appearance on Saturdays to greet our friends and rub against their leg when they arrive. After some petting and ear scratching, he usually goes back to his spot on our bed to nap or groom himself.
I am glad he still grooms himself a lot because he is looking like a ragamuffin. Also, it is obvious that he is old because his backbone is prominent, although he eats plenty and his ribs are not noticeable. He won’t let me brush him, but I would imagine he hurts too much now to enjoy a proper brushing. Sometimes he gets a bath and grooming at the vet, which he hates and usually must receive some feel-good medicine to tolerate it.
I have fallen in love with a cat! He may be an old boy, but he is my baby! A sweeter cat I have never known, and he is irreplaceable. My husband even loves him, and he did not care for cats, especially in the house. At night I like to stretch out on the couch and read. He knows what to do when I say, “Let’s go read,” and is ready to pile up on me. We have a nightly routine, Albie and me.
Albie sleeps at the end of our bed, or sometimes he will get right next to us. He loves it when we retire to the bedroom to watch TV before bedtime. Gunsmoke is his favorite western, and he likes most of the animal shows.
If I do not make my bed up right away in the mornings, he will plop his butt up on my pillow. I don’t care because we have plenty of pillowcases. It is hard to deny the little fellow. I want him to be happy because he deserves it.
Our boy has an allergy problem that the vet cannot seem to figure out. Occasionally Albie gets a steroid shot, but it doesn’t seem to help much. The problem is mostly around his eyes. He scratches a lot, and I’m always afraid he will blind himself. Even when he gets his back nails clipped, it doesn’t seem to do any damage control for the eyes. I keep an organic topical cream for cats with an anti-inflammatory and hydrocortisone in it. That helps, but I must be very sneaky about approaching him to apply it. Albie is so smart and knows so many words, especially “medicine.,” and other words I use every day. He watches my hands to see what I have in them, so he’ll know which way to run.
I don’t know how many years he has left because he is 18 years old now. Usually 15 years is the average lifespan for Maine Coons. Albie has a hard time jumping up, so we have a little step stool to help him get up on the bed. He gets in my husband’s closet sometimes, but lately, we never know where he might be. He can’t hear very well, so the only way to get him to come sometimes is to shake his favorite bag of treats. Then he comes running.
He loves to sit at the door or window and look outside. With no front claws I do not allow him outside. We have all kinds of birds, squirrels, ground squirrels, and even blue-tail lizards for him to watch. He has also chased and caught a few lizards that strayed inside. I will never forget one time when I found him reared up pawing around in a glass jar, we kept half full of coins. All I could see was those white furry “pants” and that gray tail sticking up. He was after a lizard, and he got it!
One day we will bury
Albie in our backyard “pet” cemetery with our other pets.
Living outside the city limits in a smaller rural town allows us to
do that. Hopefully, Albie will be with us a while longer. We hope to
love and enjoy him for as long as possible because, after him, I
doubt we will have another pet of any kind. We could never replace
our sweet Albie boy anyway. He is one of a kind.