Sunday, January 10, 2016

Kitty Rex

On 29 November 2014, I met Kitty Rex at the Pat Brody Shelter for Cats.

Kitty Rex had been brought to the shelter when his previous staff, an older woman, had passed away. His background information was scant: 15-17 years old, one home, always an indoor cat. He was given a vet check and kept in the quarantine area for one month, before joining one of the groups in the adoption rooms.

The cats at the Pat Brody Shelter are not in crates; they share large rooms filled with things to climb on, things to get inside of, cozy sleeping spots, windows with an interesting view, and cat-sized doors leading to large, safely enclosed decks which are also designed with cat entertainment and comfort in mind. Visiting the shelter and spending time with the cats both in the big rooms and outside on the decks is a pleasant experience.

One of the lovely outdoor areas

When I visited, Kitty Rex had been in one of the group rooms for just a short time; I think it was only a few days. He was very thin and quiet; not opposed to attention but not seeking it. Whatever his previous life had been like, his world had been turned upside down in recent weeks. He was extremely fortunate to have landed with the wonderful, caring Pat Brody Shelter volunteers, but it had nevertheless been change upon change for a very mature cat. He came home with me that day, in a borrowed carrier and with his own luggage: a package of his favorite treats, a personal handmade blanket and a fat catnip snake provided by his friends at the shelter.

Kitty Rex unpacked his catnip snake right away

When we met, Kitty Rex had a different name, provided by the person who had brought him to the shelter. Maybe it had been his name for 15 years, but if so, he apparently decided to take this opportunity to make a change. From the moment he arrived, he ignored that name totally but would respond brightly to a simple "kitty," as in, "Where's that Kitty?" when I came back in from outdoors.

And he may have been an indoor cat for his entire previous life, but I doubt it. Or maybe he was ready for a change there, too. Despite all that deep snow last winter, Kitty Rex would often make it clear that he would like to have a little look outside, from the back doorstep.


But just in case Kitty Rex would prefer to be an indoor cat, when the porch project was underway last December I asked the carpenter to make slightly wider-than-usual windowsills.
"How wide?" he asked.

This wide.
~~~

Although I would have been perfectly content if Kitty Rex had decided to spend all his days snoozing and relaxing, he chose to adopt a "work hard/nap hard" approach to life. And it was on one of his earliest visits to the barnyard that Kitty Rex revealed his name.

I was working in the barn paddock when all the goats suddenly froze, staring at one point near the house. I looked up quickly, expecting to see a moose, a fox, a coyote....

What I saw was a little orange cat, walking along, paying no attention to the goats whatsoever. My goats have seen cats before, without this "Predator Alert! It's a Lion!" response. It was very surprising. I said, "My word, Kitty, you seem to be the new King who rules Goat World! You must be Kitty Rex!"




Kitty Rex began to accompany me on morning and evening chores, every day. He directed the garden preparation in Spring and the planting and weeding in Summer. He supervised every one of my carpentry projects and the recent installation of the new hay feeders. And he always, always kept the daily barn chores from becoming tedious. This is a big job, this chore-tedium-prevention, and it takes a big character to do it.



Although he usually stayed in the house unless I was outside, Kitty Rex had his own little door providing access during daylight hours to the fenced area (there's a reason my perimeter fence has always been 6 feet high and 2x4" mesh). I would occasionally catch a flash of golden-red through a window, and know that Kitty Rex had decided to enjoy a bit of fresh air. I'd sometimes see him stretching up to sharpen his claws on a tree trunk or heading purposefully for a certain spot near a pile of stones where a mouse or chipmunk might recklessly appear.


Soon afterward I would hear the sound of the cat door opening as Kitty Rex returned, for a snack and a beverage and perhaps a nap. He selected napping and observation spots in every room, and sometimes accepted my efforts to make them more comfortable. Because although he gained a little weight over time, Kitty Rex was still an older kitty with very little padding.





But even if he was sound asleep when I headed outside for my usual routines, it was very rare - I'm not sure it ever happened - that Kitty Rex did not appear while I was in the paddocks or barns.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter - rain or shine - anytime I was out doing chores I could look up from the wheelbarrow or the water buckets and say, "Where's Kitty Rex?" and in a moment see those fox ears rise up from amongst the summer ferns, or spot a silhouette quietly observing from a nearby vantage point as the moon rose on a Winter evening. And when chores were done, I would say, "Shall we go in?" And sometimes in wet or cold weather Kitty Rex would allow me to pick him up and warm his cold feet in my hand on the way to the house, but mostly he would become impatient with even this brief coddling, and would insist on being back on the ground - or the snow, or the ice - leading the way.



~~~

In November and December, after a sudden series of visits to veterinarians and specialists, we began a daily program of at-home medication which made possible a comfortable and active life for several weeks.



And on 6 January 2016, a gentle, caring veterinarian eased Kitty Rex's passing while I held that orange head in my hands, and thanked Kitty Rex for choosing to share every day of chores, every day of working in the gardens. Every day of a perfect year.
~~~

I have taken hundreds of photographs of Kitty Rex, but I always felt that he was a self-contained and private creature, very interested in the photographic process, but not at all interested in being the photographic subject. I rarely felt that one of my images represented the true Kitty Rex. I believe this may be my most successful portrait:


~~~

Since Wednesday, I have pondered whether it would feel right to share these images and write about Kitty Rex. Here's why, this morning, I decided to do it:

If even one of my readers is ever thinking about adopting a cat or cats - and if Kitty Rex had made a friend at the shelter I absolutely would have adopted them both together - I would like to gently suggest that you consider not just the kittens and youngsters, but also the older cats. They may have a shorter time to share your world, but what a world of joy they can bring in the time they share.

Fare you well, Kitty Rex.
~~~~~

23 comments:

  1. What a sweet memorial. You were a blessing to one another. Hugs.

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  2. Sad and so sweet. Kitty Rex leaves his pawprints on your heart for sure. Thankyou for sharing all your lovely words and photos.

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  3. It is sad to lose a pet that you have grown attached to. Kitty Rex was one of those special cats. I really liked seeing his pictures and I also like seeing the pictures of the different months in a previous post. I am trying to catch up with friends. I decided it was to cold to venture out. Take care and be careful on the snow and ice. Hugs and Prayers from Your Missouri Friend Shirley

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  4. Thank-you for giving KRex a wonderful and endlessly interesting end of life. And thank-you for reminding us that older animals can be wonderful pets. It's harder for them to find homes and they never stop thanking you for bringing them home.

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  5. So much sympathy. Kitty Rex looks so much like my beloved Punkin, who arrived on my doorstep during a March blizzard, with his paws and belly covered in road-repair gunk. He was with me 17 years. I hope Kitty Rex finds Punkin for a bit of a chat, wherever beloved marmalade cats go.

    Your celebration of his life is beautiful. Thank you for the words and the photos.

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  6. Sorry for your loss; even in the short time he was with you, he left an imprint on your heart.

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  7. I am so sorry you have lost your wonderful Kitty Rex. You provided him with a stimulating and loving home, and he rewarded you by being a loyal and loving companion. I'm sure he is happily frolicking in groves of catnip in kitty heaven. Bless you for giving him a wonderful last year of life . I lost my beloved kitty companion in Nov. so I totally understand your grief.

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  8. I'm sory for the los of Kitt Rex. They sure get in our hearts quickly. After a couple paragraphs I realized where you were going and I almost didn't finish reading, but kept hoping for the best. I share your grief and hope it won't be long before you return to the shelter. Now I'm gonna go grab a kleenex.

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  9. Here I sit, crying both in sadness and in joy that you gave Kitty Rex a home and he gave you his life. Rarely have I questioned an animal who came to live here, most have been good to all those who live here and we've been good to the newcomer. Age doesn't matter, it's only the heart that matters.You did well, Quinn, in writing this post and admonishing folks to also consider older animals. A lot of mine have been older...horses, sheep, cats as Gray Tom climbs on my lap as I'm typing...he came here as a older cat, decided this was his home and I his new human. It's worked well, his paw now holds my left wrist as I'm typing. I'm becoming queer in my older age; I hate leaving the farm because I hate leaving the animals, the beauty. They, and Jesus, are about the only truth in my life.

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  10. That was such a sweet memorial to Kitty Rex. You gave him a wonderful couple of years, and that was such a gift to him. It sounds as if he brought you lots of happiness. I agree about older pets, and considering adopting them. The sweet love that shines through in your memorial truly shows that it's a wonderful thing to do.

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  11. Sounds like he was a wonderful companion. I can see you will miss him a lot.

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  12. Safe journey Kitty Rex. And peace to your people.

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  13. What a lovely send off you have given Kitty Rex.

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  14. You have a big heart Quinn - and I think it was equally matched by that of Kitty Rex. What a powerful story you shared together.

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  15. I'm sorry for your loss. What a sweet companion he was!

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  16. Oh, what a beautiful post! Goodbye Kitty Rex. You will be missed.

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  17. what a beautiful memorial to a beautiful friend. I send you furry hugs and know what it is like to lose our furry friends. I know that you have touched a lot of hearts today. I know you miss your wonderful little friend but he was so blessed to go home with you.

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  18. How difficult it is to lose such a fine companion. Sending hugs. He had a great life with you.

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  19. I am so very sorry to read of the passing of your ginger friend. The companionship of our animals is one of the most precious gifts we have. And yes, here's to never overlooking the oldies that need a new home in which to live out the rest of their days. Farewell Kitty Rex x

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  20. Thank you for this follow-up. I have kept you both in my heart and wondered what the outcome had been after the vet visit. This is such an inspiring and sweet-sad account of your lives together. It makes me wish for more adopted animals in my life and that I might see other painful parts of my own life with this dignity, affection, and clarity. Thank you both for working together to have brought me this account. I really appreciate it. See you around on Ravelry (mmacnicol).

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  21. What a beautiful post. Your pictures are lovely. Especially the one with Kitty sitting on the windowsill. I'm so glad that you and Kitty Rex found each other and that he was so loved right up until the end. It is heartbreaking to lose them. But even more heartbreaking knowing that older pets sometimes have their worlds turned upside down and find that there is no one who wants them anymore. Kitty Rex had a very good life. And the Pat Brody Shelter looks like a wonderful, caring place. So sorry for your loss. Warm wishes, Tammy

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  22. Oh, Quinn - I was reading along on your newer post, and figured I had missed out on something big. Kitty Rex had a wonderful forever home with you - I can tell how much he was loved by your words and beautiful photos. Thank you for coming to his rescue, and I'm sure he thought he came to yours, too! XOXOXOXO

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