Monday, July 12, 2010

Howie Bear

About twelve years ago, I was living the single life (read: working and going home to an empty house), a cat appeared one night when I was taking out the garbage. I'm not a cat person. First, it scared the shit out of me, and second, it wouldn't go away. It was all clingy and shit. It was picking the wrong person to attach to, I was not living a lifestyle that would be conducive to having a pet and furthermore...not a cat person.

This cat had little white paws. Like socks. I'm convinced that's what drew me in. I don't know why he picked me, but it didn't take long for me to start picking him up and cuddling him here and there. This cat wanted attention so bad. I'd hold him and he'd purrrrrr forever and the happier he got, the more he would drool. I would literally be soaked after holding him for 5 minutes.

This cat was also seriously violent. He was part of a feral community when a neighbor of mine at the time decided to swoop him up, have him neutered and bottle feed him until he was strong enough to go outside and explore. Problem is, they had several cats...and dogs...and seemed to like feeding the resident wild animals like raccoons and oppossums. So this poor cat wasn't getting the food and attention he clearly wanted. But he also was a complete menace to the neighborhood. No cat was safe from his attacks, nor was any skunk or opossum that crossed his path. I saw him fight and he was absolutely vicious.

So of course I ended up taking him in. Because I'm a huge sucker for the under dog, I guess. Or just a sucker. Clearly I had no choice in the matter. After a particularly horrible fight, he ended up with a serious abscess on his neck. I took him to the vet and $200 later, decided he would be my cat, my indoor-only cat (for the safety of the neighborhood and my pocketbook).

He took over the house the very first night. I clearly remember telling him, fine, you live her. But you will not sleep in the bedroom. As I went to bed that night, he whined and clawed at the door. So I let him in and said, fine - you can sleep in the bedroom, but not on the bed. I gave up pushing him off the bed after the first 25 tries so I said, fine - you can sleep on the bed but you have to stay at the foot of it, not near my head. He moved to my pillow and that's where he slept for the next 12 years. Pretty much on my head.

Nobody liked him but me. He would hiss and scratch at most everyone, and no one could figure out why I had taken him in, let alone why I was so enamored with him. Frankly, it didn't make sense. The first year we spent together I was constantly scratched and bloody. I had to get tetanus shots. I always had some marking from one of his attacks. But he did love me. I promise. I'm not that crazy.

Over the years he did mellow out some, although he never liked any boy I happened to bring home. Chris was no exception. He did tolerate Chris a bit better than the others (he didn't physically attack him, just warned him) but wasn't a fan. Until Chris took it upon himself to start giving him his cans of food. Then? He warmed up to him. By the time we we moved in together Chris was officially the second human being he liked in his entire life.

When I was on bedrest while pregnant with Sabrina, Howie (he came pre-named, by the way) and I became even closer. And considering my bizarre obsession with him to begin with, that's saying a lot. But he also started getting sick at that time and was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. I was devastated but he was still seemingly in decent health.

After Sabrina was born, I made every attempt to my him feel included and loved and as if nothing changed. I clearly remember having this picture taken. Sabrina was 4 days old and it was the first time Howie had sat on my lap while I was holding her. I remember being so happy that both my babies were close to me and knew they were loved.

But as time went on, I wasn't able to give them both equal attention and obviously Sabrina was my/our priority. There came a time when they both couldn't fit on my lap. And as he got sicker, not so coincidentally, my patience got thinner and over the past year, it was rough for Howie and I. Chris thankfully picked up where I left off and gave Howie the attention he needed and I'm so thankful for that. Just for good measure, this is one of Chris' favorite pictures of Sabrina and Howie early on.

This picture also reminds me how much weight he lost over the past year and a half. :(

Anyway, Howie got pretty sick as they do with kidney disease. On bad days, he vomited 5-7 times a day. Good days, zero. Most days at least once or twice. He was skin and bones. The past week or so things seemed to take a turn for the worse. He started losing hair in chunks, he was seeking out water by sleeping on the bathroom counter, he peed on Sabrina's bed (which considering he wasn't her biggest fan, might not have been an accident if you know what I mean) and just generally got "the look". We had to make the decision and it seemed like it was time.

Saturday I had Howie put to sleep. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but being there with him during the process, it was clear he was ready. He was suffering more than I wanted to see. We miss him and love him, but know he's better off now. Hopefully he's able to run around outside and not attack anyone. Jeez, I hope he doesn't cause problems in heaven....

We love you, Howie Bear.


Faith, the Authoress said...

Oh, Katie, I'm so sorry. :( He was lucky to find you, as you were lucky to find him.

Ava said...

Hugs Katie. I'm sorry for the loss of one of your kiddos.

minivan soapbox said...

Pets are so much like a member of the family....I know it still hurts my mom even though it's been years since she lost her cat. My heart goes out to you - But I'm glad you found each other!

The Martin Family Mom said...

I have a huge lump in my throat. I'm so sorry for your loss. :(

Brakes and Gas said...

What a loving tribute to Howie! So sorry for your loss.

Katie Kolich said...

This post is near and dear to my heart. After having my 2nd baby, we had to put our dog of 10 years to sleep. It was one of the hardest days of our life, but knowing she is in doggy heaven helps. I'm thinking of you! :)

Kendra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kendra said...

Love the pic of him and Sabrina on your lap. Thinking of you.

Mason's Mommy said...

So sorry for your loss. Keep around the pictures, they help.