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The Saga of 16: Q The Eldest

10/12/2009
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Last time, I told you about Maurice, the cat who started it all.  Trust me, there have been several other cats—and dogs, too—who were part of the journey, but for the moment I’m going to concentrate on the cast presently in residence.  And because it’s polite to start with the oldest first, allow me to introduce you to Q.

You can see him in the header photo as well as the background wallpaper, and both views represent him perfectly: sleeping like an angel on whatever happens to be handy, and exercising his curiosity.  Looking at him now (well, the photos are both vintage January 2005, but he hasn’t changed all that much, so it’s almost the same!) as a 20- to 22-pound behemoth, would you believe he was ever an underweight two-month-old?

Me, neither.  But he was.

In 1998, my next-door-neighbor was in the process of putting her house up for sale.  Since she and her husband (he’d passed away by ’98) lived here when Mom and I moved in back in 1972, it was almost like losing part of the family.  But she had retired and was looking for ways to cut back expenses, and one of her (grown) children had health issues, so it seemed the best plan for her to move in with that offspring.

It was a warm August afternoon, probably a Saturday or Sunday since I was home.  Neighbor knocks on my door and says, “Can you come over?  I was on the phone and kept thinking I heard a cat crying, but I can’t find it and I’m afraid it’s trapped under the house.”  Either there was too much outside noise, or my cat-in-trouble radar was on the fritz, because I had not heard the cat, but if it was making enough noise for Neighbor to hear it, there was definitely something that needed looking into.

Sure enough, when we walked back to her house, we both heard a kitten “shouting” for all it was worth.  We walked between our houses—it stopped.  I looked under her house—well, no, I didn’t go into the crawlspace, but because of the raised foundation, it was easy to see into the space, and there was no sign of a cat: no eye shine, no sound of scampering, nothing.  But when we walked back to the front of the house…  “MEOW!”

And this time, it didn’t stop.  Finally, I figured out where the little critter had to be, and sure enough, there was a little dark-gray tabby kitten hiding in a raised flower bed attached to the house.  Hiding, might I add, in a far corner, directly under the thickest part of an antique rose bush with thorns that looked about four inches long.

***sigh***

I told Neighbor to stand on the path between our houses, so that in case the kitten made a run for it, it would not be able to reach the crawlspace access and get under her house.  Then I went to work, trying to coax it out from under without getting scratched too badly.  No progress for what felt like an hour, and then bang!  Out it scrambled, and went right for the path where Neighbor stood.  The kitten jumped about three feet straight up—okay, maybe two feet—then reversed direction and ran past me to the far side of the house.

Right up a tree.

***SIGH***

Fortunately, it wasn’t a very big tree, but it was big enough to let the kitten get four feet farther up than my maximum reach standing on a three-foot-tall step-stool.  It was time to call in the big guns.

The big tuna guns, that is.

Neighbor went in and poured the “juice” from a can of tuna into a small plastic bowl, and…okay, picture this: me in a t-shirt and grubby shorts, standing on the top step of the step-stool, one arm raised like the fecking Statue of Liberty to hold that bowl of tuna juice as close to the kitten’s nose as I could reach.  For a good forty-five minutes, and of that I am sure.

Eventually, the interesting smell of tuna overcame fear, and the kitten came close enough to start lapping the juice, at which point I made a cautious grab and was able to get it by the scruff of the neck.  Down it came, and by this time Neighbor had brought out an old shirt or something for me to put across my lap, and so I sat there with the kitten on my lap and let it finish the tuna juice while it purred non-stop.

The kitten stayed in the bathroom in quarantine until I could get it vaccinated and knock down the flea problem (it’s axiomatic that strays have fleas, if they’ve been strays for any length of time).  At the first vet visit, I was told it was a he, and named him Q because, like the character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, he was quick and quirky and qualified to make large quantities of trouble.

He also had a dysfunctional liver re: being able to process protein, according to his first blood panel.  The vet told me that Q would likely have been dead in a couple of weeks if I hadn’t found him, since the high protein levels of a wild diet would have, in effect, poisoned him.  I started him on a special dry food and kept my fingers crossed.

I guess I didn’t need to worry: he grew… and grew… and grew, until he measured almost four feet from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail in a full stretch, and was nicknamed the Viking Long-cat by one of my friends.  And he topped out at almost 23 pounds!  And yes, I had him neutered, so it isn’t like he had excess testosterone to help him grow.

Egad…I wonder how big he might have grown if I hadn’t had him neutered!

He’s down to about 20 pounds, though, as of his last vet visit, but it doesn’t make much difference: Q is still a whole lot of cat, with one of the sweetest dispositions ever.

Except for his habit of biting me on the arm or hand.  I don’t even have to be petting him; he’ll get up on the sofa and throw himself down beside me, study my arm as if he’s never seen it before, and MUNCH.  He doesn’t break the skin, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun.

Silly Q.  He turned 11 this year, which makes him the Old Man of the bunch.  For a while, in fact, he was the only male cat.

But that’s another blog…

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