Friday, September 23, 2005

In Memoriam

No, Cathy is fine. However, as many of my friends know, Max, the cat that is getting affection in the picture, died about a month ago. It just seems...negligent on my part to not write something about him.

He was a good cat. I know everyone says that about their cats, but he was. Most guests were astonished how friendly he was. After about five minutes he was usually at your feet, rolled over on his back, looking to get his belly rubbed. He was a very people cat. He didn't like to be left alone and liked attention. Not in a demanding way. More like "I'm lonely and I've missed you" sort of way. My father said he was almost like a puppy in that regard.

I got him in Clarenville in 1998. I had been in the community for a couple of months and was lonely. Although I had dogs most of my life growing up, I knew I worked too long hours and travelled too much to properly take care of a dog. So a cat it was. I actually spent about two months at the excellent SPCA shelter in Clarenville getting to know the different cats. Max adopted me and that was that.

He actually had a buddy I adopted as well, a bigger cat about the same age called Sam (let me know if you get the joke of Sam and Max. So few do). Sam died after a little more than a year of a stomach problem, so then it was just the two of us.

If Max had a problem is that he hated travelling. He was a house cat, so it was rare he was outside. But whenever I had to take him somewhere, he was vocal in his displeasure. I recall one horrific trip into St. John's one weekend. He howled the two hours into town and he howled the two hours back out to Clarenville. Didn't matter what I did - put a blanket over his cage, take to him, give him some gravol - he just hated being in that cage and in a moving vehicle.

Which is what I guess killed him. It was, as things go, a relatively brief trip. St. John's to Montreal. From there a quick flight to Ottawa and then a three hour flight to Iqaluit. I did my research, I thought, on making him comfortable. He was too big to take into the cabin with me which meant he had to go in the hold. And that must have been too much for him. The noise of the plane, the stress of the unknown. I know that on at least two of the flights there were large, noisy dogs also in the hold.

By the time we got him to the hotel in Iqaluit (after a little adventure in the airport where his cage was jostled and he escaped for about 10 minutes before we luckily corralled him) he just collapsed. He mewed a few times and then barely moved after that. He just got weaker over the next two days. There's no vet in Iqaluit. Cathy's parents called a vet in town for us and his advice was to keep giving him water, get him to a vet (obviously not possible) and hope for the best.

No such luck, I'm afraid. On August 25 he died. I was a wreck, so thank god Cathy was there to help. From what we've learned since, this happens sometimes to cats and dogs. That the stress of travel, for lack of a better phrase, just melts their brains. They can't handle it and the stress kills them. I wish I had known that before, but I honestly don't know if it would have made a difference if I had. He couldn't go on the plane with me. And I wouldn't have felt right burdening my father with the cat for what could be years.

I miss him a lot. I miss the company, since it can get a bit lonely up here while Cathy is working. We've talked about getting another pet, but I don't know. I can't really handle a cat right now because I feel like I killed Max. No dogs are allowed in this complex. Both our parents think we should hold off on getting a pet since it will be a problem getting someone to take care of him if we travel as much as we're planning on. Still, we'll see.

Take care, Max...