Saturday, June 20, 2009

Good-bye, old friend

You may not have met Doonesbury, the most senior resident of our house. When Stoney and I joined as "fosters" he greeted us warmly (trans: He didn't hiss and swat like Gretchen did.). Even in my shell-shocked state, I recognized what a great companion he would be.

Marlene met Doonsey when he was a wee little thing, a puff-ball with blue eyes. He roamed the wilds of New Hampshire, chasing frogs and bringing home birds. He trekked across country with Marlene, to woody Northern California, sunny Santa Barbara, and back east to NH. He even got lost for a few months! By the time she found him, he was matted, dirty, and living on scraps. But one look and she knew it was him: those eyes, that perfect mask.

Then they made the move to DC. He went from roaming the Wide World to exploring a 2nd floor apartment. Yawn. OK, so he put on a few pounds. OK, 18 pounds. Big and beautiful, until he wants to sit on your chest at night while you're trying to read (his nightly ritual with Jess) or you happen to have a full bladder (it's a talent to pick just the right moment to pounce). As big as he was, he still found a way to scurry under the futon, a mere 4" off the floor, when a thunderstorm hit!

But a weight management diet, and access to the back yard, helped him drop to a Maine-Coon-healthy 12 pounds. Playing with Sam helped, too. He was 8 when she joined the house and insisted on chasing him up and down the hall! In frustration at her kitten antics, he sat on her once: Big, furry cat; little kitten legs squirming underneath!

The Doons-man was just about the most amiable, agreeable cat you've ever met. He always greeted new guests, feline or human. He even put up with Beyonce! Whenever the girls fostered a new litter of kittens, they'd introduce them to Doonesbury first. He never hissed, never swatted, just said "Hi, howyadoin?" and went on exploring.

Dr. Katz described Doonsey as a real gentleman. He never acted out when she was poking and prodding him. Even through dental surgery, he was a trooper. As he started to lose weight and energy a few years ago, she started him on thyroid medication. "He was always game, whatever we were trying," she said. As we added a new pill or liquid, he would rally. He'd put on weight, be more active, and get back to his old Doonsey self.

These last two weeks, though, he wouldn't rally. He'd sleep, drink water, pee water, then go back to sleep. He showed less and less interest in food and no interest in grooming. Jess even gave him a bath (not nearly as funny as my "spa day") so he'd smell a little better. Finally, on Tuesday, he wouldn't eat. Wednesday he ate a little. Thursday, not even real tuna. So on Friday afternoon, the girls brought him back to Dr. Katz. He was a gentleman then, too. As the first shot went in, he bowed his head and went to sleep. The girls stroked him and kissed him as the second shot went in. Quietly and quickly, he left. No fuss.

May 1991-June 2009

If you would like to honor Doonesbury's memory, consider making a donation to AdvoCATs, Inc. or the Julie Fund at Union Vet Clinic. I would, but Jess won't give me the credit card anymore.