This might be my favorite picture of my dearly departed cat, Deuce. She was three at the time, and we lived in San Jose. In this picture, she’s looking out the sliding glass door at the backyard wildlife. You’d never know we lived in a condo in the middle of southeastern San Jose—we had a duck pond (with occasional geese), a resident red-tailed hawk, a plethora of sparrows and nuthatches and other small birds, and of course more squirrels than any one cat could ever handle watching. But, as you can see here, she held her own with that. When we moved to Pullman, she did the 16 hours in the car like a champ, and settled in to three years of watching quail, birds, and squirrels in Eastern Washington. When we moved to Victoria five months ago, she handled the drive and the ferry ride with aplomb—and the border guards didn’t have any problem letting her into Canada.
She had a tough life. Well, that’s not true. She had a really tough kittenhood, and a tough last two hours, and one really bad day in 2006, but other than that she was just about the most-loved cat ever. Pretty damn cute, too.
She came to live with me in 2001, when my cat Toby was in the midst of kitty chemotherapy. During one of our visits, the vet techs called me aside and said something like “so, we have this kitten, and she need to go home with you.” Turns out that one of them had found this kitten when she was a week or so old, covered in caustic and oily goop and thrown down into a storm drain. The vet tech heard the plaintive cries and was able to reach her, and took her into the hospital where they nursed her back to health. She had pneumonia, and some of her hair was burned off from the goop, but she made it. They called her “Butterfly” because the white on her belly was sort of butterfly shaped. I didn’t really see it, and couldn’t really hang with a cat named “Butterfly” (the name really didn’t fit), so I brought her home and renamed her “Deuce”—kind of odd, but you see she looked exactly like my co-worker’s cat, Dexter, who had just died a few days earlier. I couldn’t name her “Dexter II” so “Deuce” it was. And she was happy, and she loved me, and she loved Toby and Max (rest their souls) and she even loved Mini (dorky and dumb though she is). She did not love people besides me, though if you spent enough time with her (like a solid week or more) she would eventually warm up to you. In her situation, I would have been skeptical of people, too.
Today, we were going to the vet to check out her cough. We did that, got xrays, and came home. She took a few steps out of the carrier, had a massive cardiac episode, and died right there on the floor, half in my lap, with me holding her, unable to do a thing except that. Turns out, according to the xrays, that she was suffering from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—nothing we could have done even if we knew. The stress of the vet visit (which normally stressed her out anyway) combined with the extent of the disease was just too much. The vet said she likely would have had an episode within the week anyway; if it had to happen, I’m glad it happened when I was there.
I’m also glad I snapped this photo yesterday, of Deuce in her normal “hey! let’s nap now!” mode. She looks fine. She was happy. We eventually took a nap.