Saturday, July 25, 2020

Boo-Boo and the Rainbow Bridge

It all started with a friend who found two feral kittens in her yard. She tried to keep them on her back porch, but her son was too allergic to them and at ten months old, she had to find them a new home.

My home.

I received these two semi-little balls of fur in a cardboard box, folded at the top to prevent their escape. I was overjoyed when I opened the box to see their little ten-month-old heads peeking out cautiously over the cardboard. 

They were terrified

Being out on a porch for most of their kitten lives, they were used to small spaces with a lot of gardening pots and plants and other things to hide under or behind. Now they were in a big house that was mostly open to them, and they had no idea what to do.

It didn't take long for them to find hidey-holes that took hours to hunt down, just to see little frightened faces looking back up at us. We decided to leave them be and not force the issue- which isn't easy with two kids who wanted nothing but to cuddle them to death. At least until they hid behind the dishwasher. 

They didn't respond much to their given names at the time either- Curious, and TC. We still have no idea how even one cat got back there, no less both of them. Yet there they were, frozen in place after my husband removed the dishwasher door. Even the vacuum didn't move them- they just let it suck on their fur and both cats remained glued to the floor.

Until I had the idea of reversing the airflow. Then they moved. After they scattered, the door was screwed back on we blocked the hole. We blocked a lot of holes after that.

It took nearly six months of letting them do their own thing before one of them began asking for affection. That was Curious, who was now named Boo-Boo. He earned the name after I came home from work one day. He actually greeted me and I grinned and said "How's my little Boo-Boo Kitty?" He meowed and rubbed a little on my leg. I was overjoyed.

His brother was renamed Scootch because the little dude was always underfoot when you had food in your hands. Both were underfoot if you had ham!

Boo-Boo never let me have any plants- not that I had many in the first place. But I did treasure my little oval pot of succulents, which was in his favorite window. Boo-Boo loved the feel of dirt, and I would often find my beautiful succulents yanked out and tossed to the floor, only to find this cat had planted his butt in my pot instead, soaking up the sunshine. 

Sometimes he would just move the pot over so he could squish himself in between the sunny window and the pot.

I also had spider plants (which were cat-friendly) and I tried growing cat grass and catnip, but these were eradicated by them both within days. I no longer keep plants in rooms where they have access. My succulents and spider plants are now safe.

He would often beg for table treats by hopping on his hind legs and trying to grab my arm with his paws. We found he loved Doritos, cheese, rotisserie chicken, and ham. Occasionally I'd cave and give him a little something, but the one food he had no manners for came as a complete surprise- Panera Breads' orange scones. He would desperately climb up Mount Mom to snatch it out of my hand (or mouth!) and if someone accidentally left the box out overnight, all that was left in the morning were a few scattered crumbs.

Oh goody...something else I have to lock up securely.

He had some other odd habits too.

If my husband and I are on the couch watching something, he found that if he wedged himself between us and twisted belly-side up, he'd get chest scratches from me and belly scratches from Dad. Cat Nirvana couldn't get any better than this! The bliss on his face made us both chuckle while we gladly obliged His Furry Majesty.

One time I was at the computer desk when he jumped up on my lap and slipped- but instead of scratching me, he balled his paw and kept his claws sheathed, using my arm to pull himself back onto my lap by his wrist. I wish I had a video of that- it was the most incredible thing I've ever seen him do.

Boo-Boo loved the soft top cushion of the recliner. He was stretched out atop it one afternoon after I came home. He looked up sleepily, meow-yawned, and stretched out languidly, rolling belly-up- at least until the cushion was overbalanced and tossed him merrily over the back of the chair- cat, and cushion disappearing behind the wall. It was even funnier when he walked out like he nothing had happened!

He had a habit of licking and kneading my left forearm. Had to be the left arm, had to be bare, and if I had on long sleeves, I got stared at until I rolled it up. At least I knew when it was time to clip his claws.

Did I mention he would only cuddle with me? He'd never cuddle or do the claw thing to anyone else. I was favored, and I loved it.

Every spring the boys (especially Boo-Boo) would get a bit antsy despite being neutered, and we decided to get a spayed girl kitty to stave off some of the...antics. Enter Tinkerbelle, two and a half years old to their five years. We thought once they got used to each other, everything would go smoothly.

Boo-Boo and Tink hated each other. She liked us humans, but that was it. Oh well- it was a nice idea.

The boys hit their tenth birthday, and Boo-Boo started acting strangely. He would occasionally vomit after eating, and we originally thought he was cow-towing to Scootch, who was the dominant cat of the three. Scootch is very greedy, and let's just say he accepted Boo-Boos' 'offerings'. The vet couldn't see anything wrong, so we chalked it up to alpha bullying and kept them separate when they ate.

Six months later, Boo-Boo was sitting next to me at breakfast and was acting like he was falling asleep sitting up. At first, this was really funny, but when he did it again after eating his dinner and faltered as he got his balance, we knew something was wrong. We scheduled a vet appointment and had his blood tested.

Nothing. Bloodwork was good. Just seizures they said. No idea why. Here are some meds. We took him home, gave him the meds with his food, and all seemed well. And then he started losing weight. A lot of weight. 

The vet suspected brain or possible intestinal cancer. There was nothing we could do. We took him home and made him as comfortable as possible for the next few months. 

And the day finally arrived where we could see he was truly suffering. His breathing was labored, his pupils were large and unfocused. It was time.

My husband took him. I wanted to go with him, but because of the COVID-19 mess only one person was allowed at a time into the vets' office. I just couldn't do it by myself. I knew I would be a hot crying mess the entire time. My daughter and I broke down when he came home with the empty pet carrier.

A few days later, we got a little note from the vet sending their condolences. At the bottom was a little blue paw print. Boo-Boo, my dear fuzzy friend, was really, truly gone. 

I love you and miss you, you goofy furball. Especially when I eat ham or orange scones. 

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