Lopsided Cat Followup

A quick note of thanks to everyone who passed along their condolences with regard to Lopsided Cat yesterday; they were and are appreciated. It is sort of remarkable to me how much grief can well up when a pet dies, until one remembers that they are in fact people, who just happen not to be human. I don’t think of my pets as my children (at least, not once they are done being kittens or puppies), but they are family members, and it’s right to mourn their passing and miss them when they go. Your good thoughts and words in that respect helped.

For those of you wondering where he’ll spend his eternity, it’s here:

That’s the maple tree in the backyard, under which Ghlaghghee is also buried. Lopsided Cat and Ghlaghghee arrived here within a couple months of each other and we long suspected they might have been related (Lopsided Cat had markings very similar to Ghlaghghee’s mother, who lived next door. They would have been separate litters), so it seemed appropriate that they would be next to each other there. As we did with Ghlaghghee, the site is currently marked by a cairn of wood logs (which also solves the practical purpose of making it difficult for local dogs/coyotes/etc to dig up remains); we’ll replace those with a marker probably in the spring. It’s a nice place to have a rest, eternal or otherwise, and it will be good to have him here with us.

People have made the observation that it must help to have two new kittens in the house, or that possibly the timing of their arrival was something more than coincidental. My feeling about it is that it really was coincidental, but coincidence or not, having them here indeed makes the passing slightly easier to deal with. We lost two cats this year; we have two new cats to keep us company, and both of the kittens are exhibiting their own personalities and quirks already. Thing One and Thing Two (again, temporary names, although if Athena waits too much longer with the new names it may be too late) aren’t replacements for Ghlaghghee and Lopsided Cat, in the sense of it would be foolish to expect them to be like or have personalities like those two. It is fun to see them become who they are. I’m glad and grateful they are here.

In its way the last week is a bit of a microcosm of life, with pets as the players: People come into your life, people go out of it. You miss the ones that go, and remember them. You welcome the ones that come in, and try to make their stay in it worth the memory. Life goes on, and it is good. You get to be part of it, too.

And there it is.

Lopsided Cat, 2000 – 2015

This is the first picture I ever took of Lopsided Cat, back in April of 2003. He came to us in an interesting way: Krissy and Athena were working in the garden (well, Krissy was working, Athena, age four, was “helping”), and Lopsided Cat emerged out of the trees at the property line and made a beeline to Athena. When Athena bent down to pet this friendly, strange cat, he hopped onto her back. And just like that, he was home.

Well, part-time at first. I suspect Lopsided Cat, who appeared well-fed and who was neutered, was someone else’s cat too, possibly one of our neighbors to the east. Alternately, as happened with Zeus, someone abandoned him, and Lopsided Cat, an able hunter, had been taking care of himself until he found himself an easier situation. But at some point he decided he liked us and made us his permanent base of operations. We were fine with that because he was friendly and affectionate, unlike our then-current cat Rex, who liked me but was a jerk with everyone else.

Lopsided Cat’s name came from the fact that he usually had his head at a tilt, which was visually endearing but was rooted in an actual malady — when he came to us he had a rather substantial infestation of ear mites (this alone suggests he might have been abandoned), and this apparently caused him to tilt his head a lot. We got the ear mites cleaned out and otherwise got him shots and so on, but he never stopped tilting his head. When he was a part-time resident, I called him “that lopsided cat.” When he came on-staff full time, the name stuck. It suited him.

Lopsided Cat came to live with us, but he was and remained through his life a mostly outdoor cat. He would come in to eat and sleep and have occasional pettings, but when he was done with all that he let you know that he was ready to outside with a meow loud and insistent enough to cut through concrete. I’ve read that cats meow in a vocal range similar to that of human infants, because that’s what makes adult humans get up and make the problem stop. I’m willing to believe it because I would be dead asleep, and Lopsided Cat would meow on the porch on the other side of the front door, down a flight of stairs, and I would be awake instantly and up out of bed before I had time to think about it. I suspect he was pretty proud at how well he trained his human.

He earned his keep and then some. I’ve noted before that our cats are not just pets but are working animals — we have agricultural fields on three sides of us and the creatures that live in the fields like to migrate into the house, particularly when the weather starts getting cooler. The cats kept that from happening, Lopsided Cat most of all. He was an avid hunter, and at times would do it with… well, style might be the word for it. One morning I went into the garage and found two dead rabbits, symmetrically arranged facing each other, paws up as if praying for their lives, on the mat by the door, and Lopsided Cat sitting there, looking up at me. My immediate thought was holy shit, it’s a gangland killing.

For all that, he was not a standoffish cat. He liked to be petted — although not in front of the other cats, which is a thing I found very amusing — and he was never skittish with the other animals, including the dogs, both of which during his tenure, Kodi and Daisy, outweighed and outsized him by a significant factor. He was cordial if not overly friendly with both. His closest animal relationship was with Zeus, whom he initially disliked but eventually took to engaging in mutual grooming behavior with. This made me joke that he and Zeus were gay, which, I should note, was perfectly fine with me if they were.

Of all the cats we’ve had, Lopsided Cat struck me as the most Platonically ideal. Ghlaghghee was a princess, Zeus was a hyper bundle, Rex was a curmudgeon, but Lopsided Cat was a cat: He ate and slept and hunted and accepted tribute from humans in the form of petting and that’s what he was. Of all the cats I’ve had, I expect he was the least smart; he never did anything that made me think wow, that was actually pretty clever, which every other cat I’ve ever had has done at least once. But then he never had to. This was a creature who was perfectly and utterly at peace with who he was: A cat. You could not ask for a better one.

The other evening — on the same day as we picked out our new kittens, currently named Thing One and Thing Two — Krissy found Lopsided Cat in the garage, looking rather disheveled and dazed. He had slobber on him, which suggested he’d been in a fight with a local dog, but didn’t have any bite or claw marks on him, which suggested that the fight had been lopsided in favor of the cat. Nevertheless we took him to the vet to see if there were any broken bones (there weren’t) or anything dislocated (again, no). The vet kept him overnight, then gave him painkillers and let me take him home, and I thought that would be the end of it.

It wasn’t. Lopsided Cat, always a very active animal, didn’t want to move and didn’t want to eat or drink. We waited to see if he would get better and when he didn’t I took him back to the vet for some more x-rays and other tests. Our vet, this time looking for things other than broken or dislocated bones, discovered that our cat had suffered a hernia, probably from the fight. That explained why he didn’t want to move or eat. She also discovered that Lopsided Cat was suffering from kidney failure — and that was something that was independent of the fight, likely brought about from the fact that Lopsided Cat, who was at least a couple of years old when he joined up with us, was simply just now old.

So here was the thing: Our vet could operate on the hernia, but Lopsided Cat’s recovery was not assured to be smooth because of his age, and the fact of the matter was that no matter what, the state of his kidneys meant that the time he had left with us was short. The cat we knew and loved was active and spent most of his time outdoors. The cat we would have left to us would be invalid and failing. We had to ask ourselves whether Lopsided Cat would be happy not being the cat he had always been.

Each of us, Athena and Krissy and I, knew the answer to that. So yesterday all of us went to the vet’s office to say goodbye to him. Then, when that was done, we brought him home to bury him.

Which, I have to be honest, I never thought we would be able to do. Lopsided Cat came to us out of the trees, unexpected. He was an outdoor cat, and one that was never shy of a hunt or of a fight. For those reasons, I fully expected that one day he would simply go out on his daily rounds… and that would be that. We would wait, and wait, and wonder and be concerned and then after a month or two we would have to accept that the cat who came out of trees had gone back into them, forever, and that we would never get to give him our farewells and let him know he loved him.

But he didn’t do that. In the end, he went out on his daily rounds… and then he came back. Because in the end he knew where his home was. It was with us. He came back to us, and we got to give him our farewells and let him know we loved him. And then we got to bring him home one last time, to be with us forever.

I’m so glad he came home.

Lopsided Cat Guards the Sacred Pile of Freshly Laundered Towels

As is the custom of his people. 

Those eyes, man. He’s seen things.

How is your Saturday?

Lopsided Cat is Ready For His Closeup

As there appears to be some mild disbelief that Lopsided Cat was in yesterday’s picture of all three Scalzi cats, I’ve gone ahead and blown up the portion of the picture he’s in, so you may see more clearly that, indeed, that strange pillowy lump is in fact a cat — a cat with mastery of advanced napping techniques. I hope that this will henceforth remove all doubts.

Lopsided Cat Would Like to Welcome You to Whatever’s 7,000th Post

“Hello, you talking monkey things. I have been informed that we have arrived at the occasion of the 7,000th entry on Whatever, and that as is custom with you incomprehensible monkey things, this occasion must be marked with some special event. So here is the special event. First, I will sleep. Then I will doze. Then I will nap. Then, I will come to your house and deliver a disemboweled but still living creature onto your doorstep. As is the custom of my people. Then I will stare at you, unsettlingly, for several minutes without blinking. This is also the way of my people.

“What is that, incomprehensible talking monkey things? You do not wish for a living but eviscerated creature to be delivered to your door? Well, fine. Refuse my gifts, then. I will speak no more to you, monkey things. You go now. I have napping to attend to. It’s serious business. Clearly you wouldn’t understand. Incomprehensible talking monkey things understand so little.”

Lopsided Cat, Considerate in His Way

“What’s that? You want to use the desk? Yes, well. Of course you may, at some point, for whatever incomprehensible talking monkey thing it is you do here when you are not scritching me. What? Writing? How adorable. However, at the moment I’m afraid I simply must use this desk. I am doing a very important study on the restfulness of its flat parts. This should only take six to twelve hours. This time. I’ll have to test it several times. This is science. Verification of results is key. Now shoo, talking monkey thing. You’re impeding my acquisition of data.”

You have to admire his commitment. To science!

Lopsided Cat Establishes His Dominance

Look, it’s not like he has anything against the lamp. But the lamp was where he wanted to nap. The lamp had to go.

Lopsided Cat Welcomes You to the Rest Of September

“Hope you enjoyed that extra day off. Now get back to work.”

Strong words from a large cat.

Lopsided Cat Wishes to Inform You That I Am Taking the Weekend Off

I suppose I could have told you myself. But I think it sounds better coming from him.

See you all on Monday.

Daisy and Lopsided Cat Pose For Their Spring Portraits

And as you can see, it was a lovely day for it. So lovely, in fact, that I spent most of it away from the computer. And I would do it again. Don’t worry; tomorrow’s supposed to be rainy and 20 degrees cooler. I’ll be back inside then.

Lopsided Cat Shows You His Bearskin Rug Imitation

It’s uncanny, is what it is. That is, until you get the frontal view:

Which is less “bear” and more “Do you mind? I’m napping here.” Fair enough, Lopsided Cat. Fair enough.

Once Again, Lopsided Cat Shows All and Sundry How Napping Gets Done

Look and learn, people. Look and learn.

Lopsided Cat is Dubious of the Monkey Thing’s Intentions

As well you might be, were you he. I should note that Lopsided Cat is primarily an outdoor cat, but as today marked the first appreciable snowfall of the year, he decided it would be better to wait out the weather inside, and has decided that the new dog was not in fact intent on eating him, so he could relax with the humans rather than disappearing to his secret lair in the basement.

How does the dog feel about this?

Hardly neurotic at all!

Lopsided Cat Wishes You to Know He Finds the New Chair Marginally Acceptable

I mean, no, it’s not a bed made from the entrails of all the rodents he’s disemboweled over the years, but then, what is? Well, except for the rodent entrail bed I made for him last Christmas. But that didn’t last; items like that never do. Until I make him another, this new chair will do just fine.

Lopsided Cat Sits For His Annual Formal Portrait

At this time, he will not be entertaining questions from the media. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Lopsided Cat Watches the World From the Porch

And tells those damn birds to get the hell off his lawn! Or he’ll eat them. And he will. Every single one of them. It’s that whole “predator” thing he’s got going. It’s not just a fashionable look for him. It’s a way of life.

The Deal With Lopsided Cat

Since people are curious, here is why Lopsided Cat is called Lopsided Cat:

Lopsided Cat came to us a few years ago when he basically emerged from the woods to the east of our house, walked up to Athena and started loving on her, which pleased the then 3-or-4 year old Athena immensely. He was a good cat, but one thing we noticed about him is that his head was almost always at a tilt, as if there were an invisible weight pulling down one side of his head. Thus, and because we hadn’t quite officially adopted him yet, we called him “that lopsided cat.”

When we eventually did decide to adopt him and took him to the vet, we discovered the reason for the head tilt was not invisible weights but a serious ear mite infestation, which apparently irritated him enough to cause him to walk around with his head at an angle. We got the infestation cleared up, but he continued to have a tilted head; I don’t know, maybe he just got used to seeing the world that way. In any event, by that time “Lopsided Cat” became his full name, because if you call a cat something long enough it just gets weird to call him something else.

You’ll also notice that Lopsided Cat, like Zeus, just showed up at the door and was taken in. We very strongly suspect (also like Zeus) that he may have originally been someone else’s cat, since Lopsided Cat had already been fixed before he came to us; unlike Zeus, however, we don’t suspect he was abandoned, because he was well fed and (minus the earmites) in healthy form. What we think happened is that he was the kid of a neighborhood cat named Baby (who is also Ghlaghghee’s mom) who was given to another neighbor, and that eventually Lopsided Cat simply decided he was going to trade up, owner-wise. I think it’s likely at first he time-shared between two households, because in the early days he’d be gone for days at a time, but then either he made a final decision in his catlike head, or the other owners simply moved away, leaving him behind.

Either way, he’s our cat now, and an excellent one: Very mellow, unless he’s killing something, in which case, he’s pretty much the opposite of mellow. I think this is a good way to be a carnivore, personally. And the whole permanent head tilt is an endearing quirk, since it always makes it look like he’s looking at you like you just did something funny. It’s like a permanent laugh track, in cat form.

That’s his story.

Lopsided Cat Laughs at My Concern

Me, letting Lopsided Cat through the door: There you are. Dude, I was worried about you last night. It got down to single digits and the wind tore shingles off the roof. I thought you might become a catsicle.

Lopsided Cat: Yes, well. I know you might not have gotten the memo, but rumor is that I have a really thick fur coat. And if it gets too cold I just disembowel a raccoon, snuggle into the carcass for warmth and then eat my way out of its body in the morning.

Me: I see. So, want some cat food?

Lopsided Cat: No thanks. It was pretty frosty last night. I’m kinda full.

Me: Ew.

Lopsided Cat: I saved you some. It’s by the garage steps.

Me: You shouldn’t have.

Lopsided Cat: I’m just giving that way. Anyway, not that this isn’t fun, but you’re blocking me from my nap.

Me: Sorry. I know you need your rest.

Lopsided Cat: Damn straight. Those raccoons don’t disembowel themselves, you know.

Lopsided Cat Restablishes Priorities

“Hello, opposable thumb thing person. Where have you been all this last week? California? Reunion? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Okay, opposable thumb thing person, you can shut up now. I can’t actually speak your monkey tongue language. Also I don’t care. See? This face? It’s me not caring. So cram it. Now. Shut. Up. You and your monkey tongue, I swear.

“Now is the time where you rub my belly. Because you are behind in the belly rubbing. Also in the neck and head scratching. Also back scritching. Scritching is different from scratching. You always forget. Which is why I claw you and make you bleed. You will learn. Even opposable thumb thing persons can learn. Sometimes.

“I cannot believe I am still here waiting for you to indulge me. Clearly this place you say you have been — California? — is a place where you become stupid so you do not understand any longer the purpose in your opposable thumb thing person life is to serve me and also the other cat sometimes but mostly me. I will deal with this California later. After my nap.

“But for now rub my belly. And be quick about it, opposable thumb thing person. I am behind in my rodent disembowling quota today and I cannot let that orange cat get ahead. I have things to do! So get to it, and I may not smother you in fur while you sleep. Today. Maybe.”