Thursday, October 23, 2008

Clara stories

Clara had many friends. After having her euthanized, I had a number of people I had to contact to tell them the news before I announced it to the world. One such friend is Dean, who is the person who connected me with Clara and Alice the humans (Clara was his aunt). He also lived in my house for a while when Clara and Alice were kittens, so he got to spend quite a bit of time with them.

Here are some things that Dean remembered about his time with the kittens:

"Didn't they used to sit and study birds at that feeder that hung outside the window at the foot of your bed? [they did]... 
Clara and Alice hoping some birds will come to the feeder attached to the window. As a side note, the foil is on the soil of my plant there because I was trying to deter the cats from digging in it!

...And I remember making the cat sill on the new window so they could look out the window.
 [I had an extra window put into the house by some guys from a construction/roofing company... but I didn't find out until they showed up that that's all they were going to do... they weren't going to re-do the drywall around it etc. So Dean came and helped me with that and, because the cats liked looking out windows so much, we put a windowsill in for them. They seemed to appreciate it.]
The "new" window that Dean refers to, with windowsill. My mom bought the cats that big scratching post/adventure center and they loved it from the minute I started unpacking it.

Didn't you have some kind of running water toy thing there for them? [That was a water bowl actually... and the noise of the pump drove me crazy and then it broke, so I returned it. The cats didn't seem to care one way or another about it] ...And the cat door that what's-her-name's cat came in to enjoy some of their food. [My neighbor Anne's cat (Nicholas) used to sneak into the house through the cat door in the days when my kitties used to go outside. He was a BAD cat that Nicholas. That cat door caused other problems: one night I had to go fend off (with a flashlight) a raccoon trying to come through that door... the raccoon had busted through the screen door beyond the cat door but was having a bit of difficultly getting through the small cat door... the noise woke me up] Do you have a picture of them on top of the upper cabinets to the left of the stove? That was a favorite place especially in winter time." [I *wish* I had a photo, but alas there is not one.]

In the kitchen in Madison, there was an air vent above the cupboards. The cats would jump up to the kitchen sink, then from there to the top of the fridge, then from there to the top of the cupboards, and then walk all the way to the other end of the cupboards in order to sleep in front of the (hot) air vent. Alice in particular loved the heat--we'd often find her there hot to the touch, so we started referring to her as "roasted kitty" at those moments. One of my roommates from Madison, Jodi, also remembered a top-of-the-cupboard moment:

"Clara was always such a sweetie. I loved snuggling up with her to read or watch TV. One of my favorite memories of her is when she unwisely continued to sit on top of the kitchen cupboards while I was making onion puree in the blender (for kebabs) directly below her. Poor girl -- her eyes were watering like mad (huge crocodile tears), and she just couldn't figure out what was causing it. Such a funny and wonderful little kitty."

Poor Clara had many such onion incidents--she seemed to be particularly sensitive to onions and would often have to keep her watering eyes closed while we were cooking. We felt so bad for her.

Clara and Alice on Dean's bed. It was sometimes hard to know where one cat ended and the next cat began.

The vet I took Clara to for her breathing problems told me (when I went back to have him euthanize her) that she was a very sweet cat (and that he wasn't just saying that) and that the technician who drew blood from her told him that she could have done it all by herself (since Clara was so gentle). The technician at the specialty clinic was very excited that I was going to leave Clara there for an afternoon to have the ultrasound and fluid removal done--she said she couldn't wait to hold her and squeeze her (I was a bit worried about the squeezing part, given Clara's breathing problems, but I assume she didn't mean it literally). The internal medicine vet, after examining Clara, remarked how nice (and rare) it was to have a sweet patient--Clara didn't complain at being poked and prodded... there were no claws, no hisses, etc.

Speaking of claws... Clara did use her claws once. Jesse has the scars to prove it. When it came time to move Alice and Clara to San Diego, I decided (after 6-9 months of deliberations, I kid you not) that the best way to do it would be to have them in the passenger compartment of the plane. What I hadn't thought about was that cats can't go through the X-ray machines, and cat carriers can't go through the metal detector. That meant that Jesse and I had to each carry a cat through the metal detector while their carry bags went through the X-ray. I got Alice (she's bigger and not nearly as sweet as Clara... she has no problem using her claws on people) and Jesse got Clara. Since I was used to holding the cats while I cleaned their ears and cut their claws, I got Alice through and back into her bag without too much trouble. Clara, to say the least, was freaked out at this whole being-in-the-airport thing and in an effort to get away from Jesse, stuck out her back claws and tried to push off of Jesse's chest. She didn't escape (the security people told me it does happen), but Jesse was a little bit the worse for wear. A funny story from that day: Jesse and I didn't have seats together on the plane, and we each had one cat under the seat in front of us. The cats meowed during take-offs and landings (it took two flights to get to San Diego), but were quiet during cruising. During a take off, the guy next to me said "do you hear a CAT?!" He hadn't realized that Alice was in the bag at my feet.

I've realized now that Clara is gone that I have very few photos of her with people in them too. There are some of me holding her and Alice, but none of Jesse and none of Dean or Jodi with the cats either. It's too bad. 
I assume that Dean took this photo of me and the kittens. I have spent many of my evenings over the last 10 years with at least one cat on my lap, if not two.

Thank you to Clara's friends for sharing their memories of her.

PS. I've put up more cat photos on my photo website.

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