16 June 2012
When Bob arrived in August of 2007 it was in a dull red carrier from which he refused to move. I put in a friendly hand to say "hello" and was bitten, not severely, but decidedly. He had just endured a long car ride and fearful of a new place, was not yet prepared to tolerate a stranger. When his former mum left the following morning, poor Bob was at the top of the stairs, pulling pieces of fur from his hindquarters. Foof, who had also suffered the trip, was in hiding, sulky and petulant under a bed somewhere and of no help to him whatsoever. Gradually, he began to settle in. Some months later, both cats came to live with me. Again, he was terrified, disappearing entirely to some unseen empty space in a cabinet and causing a complete panic that prompted a preposterous outside search and then absolute incredulity when his hideout was revealed and he was discovered, quiet and baleful and forlorn.
The challenges of another transition soon passed and he and Foof took to their new lair fairly quickly. I could see their relationship was primarily based on a polite mutual tolerance. I think they regarded each other as competition for resources: food, territory, my affection. They rarely argued, although on those very few occasions when they became occupied with fighting and biting, it was typically she who was the aggressor. Only once did I see Bob bully her. His choreography was eloquent. Bob's shape was unusual for a cat - he was quite barrel-chested and so convincing as a thug while persecuting her for some offense. After cornering her and looming in a large and manful way, he retreated to the berry box which she used as a nest from time to time. With that glow of serene righteousness that the wronged experience when - at last! - favored by Justice, he released an abundant stream of urine. Having put things right, he marched off, triumphant and as happy as I'd ever seen him.
He liked cookies. He liked pastries. He liked popcorn and potato chips. He liked hand cream. He was rarely permitted access to such goodies, but when in the presence of any of these treats, he assumed a look of hopefulness and was usually rewarded with a fraction of a fraction of something sweet or salty. The hand cream was not given as a treat, but Bob was a licker and if he could ambush you emerging from the shower he would pursue like a tiger on the prowl until picked up and kissed and lavishly complimented on being such a sweetie and it was then that he would seize you in his paws and devour as much after bath moisturizer as he could consume before being wrestled from the banquet of unguents. I also quite recently observed, and preempted, I must add, his fondness for spray starch.
I don't think any of the photos of him on this blog made clear the reason for his name. He was a bobtail - either a rumpy riser or a stumpy, I haven't yet worked out which. He had a little black stump of a tail that would blossom into a black puff at the sight of some strange cat. Along with his bandit mask and his oddly shaped feet, (he had unusually large "heels" that enabled him to stand like a human, with his enormous back feet flat on the floor), the little tail was one of his most endearing traits. That and his quiet stoicism and aura of pure and enduring goodness. In his dotage he became a talker. "Rrrrrowwww" was his favorite word but it had very many variations and it was generally only used for the benefit of humans.
At times, Bob was quite possessive, but then, so is Foof - perhaps it's the nature of cats. I have always had pots of fresh cat grass and catnip for the enjoyment of both beasties but the catnip always belonged to Bob. He would often try to prevent Foof from having any by sitting in the pot and squashing it all flat. Often, he liked to play with his toys but with one paw securing the nip. It was quite a dilemma. Bob wanted to have all the toys, too.
Last week, over the course of a few days, Bob stopped eating. He had Chronic Renal Failure and was being treated with various nutriceuticals with apparent success. But at 21 years old, he was giving out. I've lived with nine cats during my life and the ones who have become demonstrably sick have done so almost overnight. They are fine one day and then the next they're not fine at all. It was like that with Bobcat. By last Friday, he could barely walk. It was agonizing to watch. For the last couple of years I have awoken every day wondering if Bob would still be alive. Astonishingly, he always was. I had hoped he might die quietly in his sleep and I would discover him still and at peace, but instead he began to suffer outwardly and I had to finally make the decision to end his suffering. When we lose our animal friends, we are often overcome by the strength of our grief - grief that is proof of our love. That part of our hearts animals claim as theirs alone is much greater than we imagine when we choose to share their world. I hadn't expected to fall in love with Bob, but who could resist? Such a sweetie. We made the trip to the hospital at noon on Saturday with Bob in his dull red carrier lined with a soft blue blanket. In the back seat of the car, I opened the carrier to pet him. He looked at me, put his paw on my hand and began purring.