Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NPR - Alexander

This is my Siamese cat, really half Siamese and half white domestic, Alexander. He was 21 years old when he had to be put to sleep in 1992 after experiencing kidney problems for nearly a year. He was half and half because he was bred from a pure male Siamese and a pure white female domestic, which preserves the Siamese color but gives the domestic features. He was intentionally bred away from the Siamese body and features.

Well, except he inherited the Siamese personality. Linda and I decided after our first two cats, Friend and Newcomer - that's another story, to start with the alphabet. We added Benjamin a few years later, a gray-white domestic we got from the local Animal Shelter. He was totally frightened there so we brought him home and Alexander made him a little brother, until Benjamin outgrew Alexander and became the larger little brother.

Anyway, they were opposites but pals. Alex loved the sun, and you could always find him wherever there was sunshine, just laying there feeling warm and sleeping. Benjamin hated sunshine and loved darkness, and you could find him in the darkest corner of a cabinet. Alex would run out the front door if you opened it, he loved to explore, and Benjamin hated it, and would forever sit just inside an open front door and look out but never leave.

But Benjamin had the cool habit of greeting you when you came home. When he heard the key in the lock, he would race to the door, jump on the table next to the door and wait. When you came in you had to reach down and touch your nose with his, and then he was happy and would jump down to escort you, with Alexander who thought that was beneath him, to the kitchen and the empty food bowl.

You couldn't even put anything down, take your coat off, or whatever, just feed them. And now. Or face the constant singing of two hungry cats. Then you could make yourself at home. But then eventually they would come to comfort you, or so you thought, when it was actually, "Pet us, please." Such are the life of cats.

They loved playing hide and seek, with each other or you, they didn't care, but really each other. One would wake from a nap and look around to see the other not there. You could see the look in their eyes that the other was hiding and planning a surprise attack. When it happened, they raced around the house for awhile, tumbling and play fighting, and then be done with it and go eat.

Sadly I lost Benjamin some years later. But Alexander lived to 21 when he was half blind, near deaf, arthritic, and had problems with his organs. His kidneys began frequently failing and had to be put to sleep. Which is one point of the post. Euthanasia.

It's not humane, just the most humane we can think of for now. I feel sorry for people who live in Animal Shelters and farms when and where they have to put animals down. There is no easy way to do it and it is notpainless, even if administered correctly. The animal has a few moments to realize something is happening, and it's not good.

Alexander was quiet when he was on the table, as he was tired and just wanted to sleep, whenI held him. When he got the shot, he suddenly woke up and looked at me with this huge look of fear. And then he fell limp in my hands, his eyes open and lifeless. It was over. And even all these years later, I miss him, faults and all, because he loved me faults and all.

The next cats, Christopher, to be an Abyssinian, and Daniel, a shelter cat, haven't happened yet. Some day, maybe.

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