Adventures with a creamsicle cat

I’m sharing more stories about Gizmo (for those that don’t know, we helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge last week — read more about him here).

As I was sorting through photos and trying to choose them for the post above, there were so many that told stories.

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Giz enjoying some spring weather too from the safety of his kennel . . . 

Gizmo enjoying some time outside safely
This photo above doesn’t really tell a story, but it was in my last TOLT post. OTOH, it’s Gizmo in his outdoor kennel. Back when the boys were tiny little kittens, we decided we would build them a kennel outside that they could access via a cat flap in the house. It started out somewhat small, and it grew . . . and it grew . . . and it grew . . . and furntirure moved in . . . and it moved with us from TX to NY.

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The kennel in TX

The boys just loved this kennel. So did my elderly cat, Puss. Simba was in it on his last day on earth — Gizmo hadn’t gone into it in the last several weeks, though. In the photo at the top I am sitting on the bench next to Giz.

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Fresh air. Sunshine. Little critters. What more could a cat want?

My first two cats were strictly indoors. I wanted the boys to be able to enjoy fresh air . . . safely. There was a price, though — the critters they caught & brought in! They were mighty hunters.

Which leads me to one our most told stories about the boys: the time when I came home to find them staring intently at my treadmill. The space between it and the wall. I took a look, and I thought I saw one of their little furry balls. And then it moved.

Too big to be a mouse, I thought ewww! It’s a rat. Eventually they lost interest and wandered away. A few hours later, though, when Mr. Judy got home, they were back at it. And then we heard squeaking.

We managed to get the 3 cats (Puss was still alive) into separate rooms, and then we lifted  the treadmill. And it went from ewww, a rat, to awww! a baby bunny!

We eventually managed to get it, and Mr. Judy was concerned that it couldn’t fend for itself — so he put it out in my garden! The next morning there was no bunny, so I’ve always assumed somehow it’s mama found it. I just believe that it survived — poor thing had quite the adventure to tell!

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Cats’ agility is amazing thing to watch

How’d he do that?
I never tired of marveling at the acrobatic capabilities of the boys. I mean, I knew he jumped onto that little corner shelf, then jumped from there into the window — but how? They used to jump from the floor onto the top of our 6 foot entertainment center, too. Gizmo used to give me heart attacks jumping from our top floor here straight down to the bottom floor!

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Gizmo supervising my painting

Eventually Mr. Judy built this shelf for that back window and a ramp up to it. We don’t have windows like that here in NY, but we do have a big bay window in our living room and the boys spent many hours snoozing in beds there.

I remember the one time a tornado actually got quite close to us in TX . . . I was able to easily get Gizmo in the bathroom, but Simba was just sitting on that shelf staring out at the storm; eventually I got him, too, and we rode it out in our bathroom. It wasn’t a big one, but it did get somewhat close.

Puss was still alive and I wasn’t able to find her. After we got out, I found her behind the dresser in our bedroom — against an inside wall. I had no idea she could squeeze back there, but she was a smart cat — that was a good place to ride out the storm!

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Literally bouncing off walls

Speaking of acrobatics . . . 
We used to throw balls up against the quilt for the boys to catch.

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Training is fun

Who says you can’t train cats?
Before we ever had dogs, we trained the boys to sit up, lay down, high five, jump over a hurdle and jump through hoops. They loved it. They got so excited when the clicker came out — the dogs did, too — except Bandit. He’s afraid of the clicker. Not the vacuum cleaner, but the clicker. Weird dog.

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Jumping hurdles. Lola used to love this, too (we did agility with her when she was younger, just for fun)
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C’mon Simba, it’s fun in here!

Double Trouble
I remember the time that one of them got into the wastebasket . . . I fished him out, only to turn around and see the other one get in. This went on for quite some time. I’m sure they were laughing at us. I’d had two cats before, but this was the first time I’d had littermates — they were so much fun.

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We want to choose our own toys!

And so much trouble! Into everything! We actually had to put child locks on the drawers in our kitchen in TX because they figured out how to open them. In better days, every time I opened that pantry door (where the treats were), Gizmo would come running.

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Looking for trouble

This photo reminds me of the time the boys got out. Our windows were low to the floor in TX. They had solar screens on the outside, and we had some bars we’d prop up in the open window so we could get some air and keep the boys safe . . . or so we thought.

One day, when I was sick, I heard that yowling you only hear from cats when they see another cat. I got up to investigate, and they’d gotten the bars down, popped open the screen, and both of them were outside — as was some stray cat.

Gizmo always listened. I told him to get back inside and he just hopped right back in. Simba, OTOH, took off after the cat, who made a beeline for our neighbor’s yard. The one with the Chow Chow behind the fence, with Simba in hot pursuit.

Thankfully Simba had the good sense not to jump the fence, but he sure didn’t want to come back inside, either. I had to go in, get a crate, and eventually I was able to lure him into it and get him back inside. That training really comes in handy at the darndest times!

Talk to me. Tell me in the comments:

Have you ever tried to train a cat?

Every had littermates?

What would you tell me about your furkid?

 

Goodbye my sweet boy: Spilling over tea/coffee February 2019

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If anyone in my life ever “personafied” unconditional love, it was Gizmo. This was not the post I’d planned to write today, in fact a week ago I was expecting to still be hand feeding Gizmo every few hours. Over tea today I’ll be sharing all about Gizmo, and I understand if that’s not your cup of tea, but it’s what’s in my heart this week.

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We renamed him Gizmo because he was a dead ringer for the Gizmo from Gremlins

This will probably get really long, and it’s really more for me than you, so I understand if you don’t read it much, much less all.

Confessions of a Mother Runner

Pull up a chair and mug with Coco and Deborah and me for the ultimate coffee tea date

Most of the time he was in Bandit’s crate, not on top of it!

NY has not been kind to our furkids
We lived in VT 7 years. No furkid losses (the girls were only 8 when we left). We lived in TX 17 years, and both the girls crossed the rainbow bridge — but they both had long lives: Cleo was 16 and Puss was an amazing 21. They are still there; we buried them in our backyard and planted a rosebush by them. It used to comfort me to go out there and talk to them.

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I have photo after photo of the boys curled up together

However, we have lived in NY for 10 years, and this is our third loss. The first two, Simba (Gizmo’s brother — he was gone before I started this blog) and Chester (many readers remember Chester, I’m sure, as I wrote about him frequently, especially after he passed — read his story here) were too young — almost 12 and 10 respectively. I know that’s not really young, but both seemed far too young to go to me, and both suffered a lot towards the end.

Gizmo had a good, long life; he was almost 18. He was never sick a day in his life until this last year, and it’s really only in the last 6 weeks that he really started to decline. I miss him terribly, but I am consoled that he had a great life, and that I helped him to pass while he could still enjoy lap time with me.

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Normally I probably wouldn’t share this photo, because it’s definitely not my best photo. But it captures perfectly the love we had for each other. Gizmo was most definitely my cat. (And yes, this was during the brief time I colored my hair).

Loving that Gizmo is still purring and curling up on my lap
The above is what I wrote last month. Yes, he was still purring and curling up in my lap til the very end.

He also was barely eating. He really couldn’t stand for very long, which is why he would lay down to drink water, and why after a few bites he’d go over to his hammock and I’d have to spoon feed him to get him to eat a bit more.

He could have lived longer, but he no longer had the quality of life I wanted him to have. It was very, very difficult to make the decision to help him cross while he still wanted to lay on me, but I knew it was the right choice.

A sign?
I was stretching out after my run on Monday, and oddly enough I heard a lot of bird song. It’s the middle of winter, there’s snow on the ground, and it’s damn cold. I looked over and I saw what looked like a flock of Robins — I’m not sure they were Robins, I wasn’t close enough, but a few flew back and forth to a nearby tree and they definitely had red bellies (and were not cardinals).

Was it a sign for Gizmo? A sign that Spring is coming, despite the cold and snow going on? I have no idea, but I do know that it brightened my day — something I would never have seen if I hadn’t opted outside to run, which as you know I don’t always do — it was actually a lovely day to run (for winter).

At this point I was still grappling with the decision, and I would make the arrangements after I got home from this run.

Coming to peace
I woke up Monday crying. I’m don’t cry easily; ask Mr. Judy. I also woke up in the middle of the night crying. I didn’t feel like I had to use the bathroom, but I wasn’t falling back asleep so I did anyway. I spent some time praying to be at peace with my decision.

Eventually I fell back asleep, and when I woke up, I wasn’t crying any more. And I was actually at peace with my decision. It was still hard, and yes, I did cry later on, still do, but my prayer was answered.

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Like most cats, he loved his boxes and could squeeze into the smallest places. He also had what we called his OCD behavior — obsessively pushing down on the flap of a box over and over and over. Yes, we have video of that.

All his favorite things
It’s very, very difficult to make the decision to let them go while they’re still eating (even if only very little), still want to be with you (sometimes, there were days he spent mostly hidden away), and still purring.

I didn’t question myself (much) after making the decision, but I set out to give Gizmo as much happiness as I could on his last night/day on this earth. Mr. Judy grilled a steak — yes, outside — sort of, he has the grill pulled close to the house and uses a method where he doesn’t have to be monitoring it constantly, and while Giz didn’t eat much of it, he did eat some.

My habit over the last few weeks was to get up, scoop the litter boxes, feed Giz, then go downstairs and do some yoga, then meditate, then pray a little. On his last day I wanted to spend as much time with him as he wanted, so I sat down after feeding him and let him lay on me until it was time to feed the dogs. And then I let him lay on me some more.

I got up to make a snack of some yogurt and granola. I really wasn’t hungry, but Giz loved yogurt — and he actually went to town pretty good on what I left for him. After that Gizmo went to his bed in a box (literally a cat bed we’d put in a box), so Mr. Judy and I took the dogs out for a very short walk (it was really cold).

Then I cooked a big batch of chicken thighs in the Instant Pot — I’m planning to make chicken noodles soup later this week — and fed him a bit of of the chicken. Again, he didn’t eat much at all, but he really enjoyed what he ate.

I am grateful that he was able to enjoy some of his favorite things on his last day.

Best toy ever
I didn’t used to feed Gizmo when I got up. It’s a really good way to get a cat scratching at your bedroom door. So for about 16 years, the first thing we’d do in the morning is play with his cat dancer (the Website is here, but you can buy it many places and it’s very inexpensive).

Best cat toy ever. Seriously. Very few cats don’t appreciate it (Simba wasn’t really impressed with it, but he’s the exception); I used to volunteer at a small cat rescue and few cats could resist the cat dancer.

Gizmo never tired of it, day in and day out, not until he got very old and arthritic.

Where’s mom?

Although Gizmo was annoyingly attached to me — seriously, when he was healthier, he would follow me around the house just willing me to lay down — occasionally he deigned to lay on Mr. Judy. He did so this past weekend. Mr. Judy felt he was saying goodbye.

Trying to nudge Bandit out of the bed

Giz really was not happy when dogs came into his life. Every time we went away and came back and there were no dogs, he was so happy. Towards the end, though, he really didn’t care. He’d walk all over them to get what he wanted — usually me or a bed.

Cats can sleep in the most uncomfortable looking places

Long ago I painted this on my large suitcase. It kind of comforted me to “take Giz with me”. That suitcase is also coming to the end of a long life, so I guess I won’t be able to take Giz with me anymore, except in my heart.

A thoughtful gesture

Our vet sent this Live Oak acorn to plant. They did the same when we lost Chester. We actually got that to grow into a small sapling, but we could never seem to decide where to plant it, an early snow came, and that was it. Oy. Can we keep this one going?

Mr. Judy has been trying to remove all the cat paraphernalia. We had boxes all over the house. In fact, it made me sad when I opened the box for the oak plantling — we almost always put down the boxes for Giz to play with before we recycled them (and some became permanent “furniture”). But now there is no one to play with a box, to jump in and out of it, to curl up into it even though it doesn’t look like it would hold him.

There are multiple cat trees. Multiple litterboxes. Beds. Scratchers. It didn’t make me happy to see them around, and it definitely makes our house much more open with them gone, but it doesn’t make me happy to see all signs of a cat in my home disappear, either.

For many reasons, I don’t plan to be adopting a cat in the near future. It’s the first time pretty much in my entire life I haven’t had a cat. Some day, I hope that we will have a cat/cats. For now we are once again settling into our new normal.

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The boys, in better days (and before cell phones!)

I still feel you
Gizmo was put to sleep in our home — if you’re local to the Albany, NY area, In the Comfort of Home — find their Website here—  will come to your home and they’re very kind and it was quick and peaceful; I do recommend them. It’s not the first time we’ve had furkids put to sleep at home, although the first time a stranger has done it.

I still kind of feel his presence, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking. I keep thinking I hear him or see him out of the corner of my eye, and just feel him doing the things he used to do when he was younger and healthy. It both comforts me and saddens me.

I also know he is reunited with Simba, and with all the many cats (and dogs) I have loved in my life. That is what I choose to believe, anyway.

I could go on and on for days. Seriously. When they were kittens I had an entire Website devoted to them. Yes, I am that crazy cat lady. People were so shocked when I wanted dogs, too, but that’s how I grew up, with both.

I actually started to work on copying that Website into a new blog when Chester passed, but it’s time consuming work. I didn’t finish and I hadn’t made it public.

So many photos. So many memories. 18 years is a long time, of morning and evening lap time, playing, feeding, scooping, and just purr/pure love.

I actually do have more I want to write, but I think maybe I’ll join up with Amanda’s Talking Out Loud next Thursday for the first time in a long time hereand share some more photos and more stories.

No questions today, just give your furkids some extra loving from us

I am also linking up with the  Fridays with Fairytales and Fitness from Fairytales & Fitness.

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