Saturday, March 5, 2011

Caturday: Kitties I Have Known #1

As I've mentioned before, I never used to be a "cat person" - I was a little afraid of cats, actually.  But fate stepped in with a series of coincidences that left me taking care of various friends' kitties for about a year, with only small gaps in between.

Moon stayed with me the longest - around six months, I think.  He was an ideal "starter cat" for a cat-shy person like me because he was a huge cuddleslut with a gentle disposition.  He was also an indoor/outdoor sort of kitty (although while he was in my custody I kept him safely inside) and his human "mommy", Jen, tells me he would sometimes get in fights out there and swagger back inside full of Han Solo bravado with pieces of his face shredded off.  It's very difficult for me to reconcile this badass version of Moon with the version who let me hoist him way up over my head and "fly" him through the apartment like a model airplane - purring ecstatically all the while because someone was paying attention to him.

He would also let me drape him jauntily around my neck like a scarf.

Apparently Moon didn't spend all his outdoor-time picking fights, by the way.  Jen tells me that in every neighbourhood they ever lived (and there were a few), he would find and befriend another cat - and each of these "friends" was male and each of them was an exact replica of Moon only smaller.  This led Jen to conclude that Moon was gay; also kind of an egomaniac, since he always hooked up with dudes who looked just like him.

When he wasn't outside wreaking havoc and breaking hearts, Moon was probably the most tactile kitty in the entire world, ever.  While staying with me, he would bug me for snuggles pretty much every single minute of the day.  One of his favourite strategies was to stand in front of my face while I was lying on the couch watching tv.  I think he felt that blocking my view of the television would make me transfer the focus to him instead.  The thing is, with me lying on my side and him crowding me like that, he'd usually end up standing on my nipple. And he wouldn't get off it because, hey, standing there did indeed make him the centre of my attention.  God only knows what the neighbours were picturing when they heard me repeatedly screaming "GET OFF MY TITS!!!!"

Another fun fact about Moon: he had a rather delicate digestive system (I can't blame him - he was 15 years old, after all.  In cat years that's ancient).  I've always been really really squeamish about vomit, but Moon forced me to suck it up deal with it since there was  nobody else around to clean it up (this was all happening pre-Boy).  One time - tired of just messing up my floor, I guess - he actually projectile vomited.  One moment he was just casually sitting there, licking his foot or something; the next he made a barking sound and a horizontal geyser of watery puke powerwashed the paint off the wall next to my coat closet.  I huddled in the corner gibbering with fear and wondering whether I should call a vet or an exorcist...but two minutes later he was acting perfectly normal again.  Jen told me later that the projectile vomit thing is pretty standard for him.

As for garden-variety floor-pukes, Moon tended to have them every day or two - and always in pairs.  After  I noticed the Noah's Ark quality of Moon's stomach upsets, I started pouncing on him after Round One (before he had a chance to wander off) and firmly patting his back until Round Two came up.  It got the ordeal over with faster and left just one mess to clean up.  I felt really smart and resourceful for coming up with this idea.  Before Moon, I'd always thought I wouldn't be up to the responsibility of being a cat-parent...but I was starting to change my mind.

Also, I was inspired to paint things like this:

'Cause sometimes all you can do is laugh.
So, yeah...I had to deal with a lot of cat vomit for those six months.  Plus the constant begging for snuggles (while usually adorable and welcome) could sometimes be a bit much if I was trying to do other things - like, dude, please don't jump in my lap while I'm on the toilet.  That is what we call "me-time".  Also, GET OFF MY TITS.

But he more than made up for those minor inconveniences by curling up against me while I was working on paintings.  Sometimes it's hard for me to start a new painting (what if I can't get the colours to look like they do in my head?  What if my hand slips and gives the lady in the painting a Hitler mustache?  SO MANY THINGS COULD GO WRONG), and I end up chickening out and watching cartoons instead.  But there's something about the presence of this warm, rhythmically-breathing, totally zonked-out kitty that just totally put me in the zone.  It's like Moon's stillness transferred to me through osmosis, making me perfectly calm and focused.  

Cleaning up Moon's prolific kibble-vomits made me realize I'd be capable of owning a cat...but painting while he snored blissfully against my lower back made me realize I needed to own a cat.  Thank you, Moon, for helping bring me over to the Cat Side.  If it wasn't for you, I would never have met Birch, the feline love of my life.

In August of 2009, not long after he returned home, Moon passed away.  I made this tribute painting for Jen:

MOON November 1993 - August 2009 RIP
Miss you, buddy.  Hope Cat Heaven has millions of black twinky little cats for you to cruise. <3

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