Kim and I lost our old friend this weekend, Cali Cat “Farrelham” born Oct 3, 1993, died yesterday, Jun 12, 2011, at the age of 17½. We euthanized her relatively early — a difficult but peaceful choice, made calmly on a sunny Sunday, before her situation became desperate. Cali was known for niceness, an amiable personality, a peculiar chirp of a meow, and an owl-eyed stare that made her look perpetually surprised or amazed (and sometimes perplexed or stunned).
Cat by marriage
I married my wife and her cat. We all met ten years ago. Cali was about eight. Kim named Cali carelessly, a shortening of calico, which she wasn’t (calicos have a white base, but Cali was a classic tortie, mottled black and orange, with tiny fetching splashes of white). Cali endorsed me as a boyfriend early, which helped me score dating points with her pretty lady. She also seemed to lose some timidity in our first year together, which got me more points and official “cat dad” status. Although Kim’s lap would always be her first choice, my home office led to me becoming her more constant companion, and we came to depend on each other for many things.
She had her foibles. Cali was calm to a fault, almost inert, hard to engage in play for long, even when she was fit for it. She was a champion barfer in the last three years, which became quite a concern and a hassle. And although her shyness steadily improved throughout her life, it kept her from being an ambassador to most guests. (There were certain favoured clients: GK, SS, and LP were blessed with more attention than most. One time and one time only, she actually hopped up on someone while I was working and stayed for a while.)
A polite cat?!
Nevertheless, Cali lacked most stereotypical cat flaws, and I was basically ruined for other cats by her: she was a better, nicer pet than any other cat I’ve known. Incredibly, she let us sleep in: she always waited at our bedroom door for her breakfast, polite and quiet, still as a statue. And although I’ve never known any other cat who wouldn’t take a swipe at you sooner or later — and some of them on a regular basis — Cali never did it, not one scratch or bite, ever. She was friendly enough, but didn’t cling. She could beg without ever being annoying, because her primary (and highly effective) method was to say please by blinking earnestly and occasionally paw-tapping your hand or a plate edge, which was like a supernova of cuteness.
What’s a pet without a list of idiosyncratic traits? We will remember:
- Her milk extraction method: dipping a paw repeatedly into a glass to get milk at the bottom. Also works with ice cream [video, 0:37].
- “Mat pats.” Cali had a thing for lying on mats, and loved pats while she was on them. In the last year, she became inordinately fond of bath mats in particular, and had a regular ritual of joining us for showers.
- Cali liked to splash water out of her water bowl with her tongue, flicking it over the far edge.
- Our deck has a tiny fault in the concrete, a crack. Cali was fascinated by that spot, and never failed to give it a good smell, and often actually rolled around on it. Huh? Crazy!
- Hardly a unique cat trait, but Cali was particularly partial not just to bags, but to duffel bags and backpacks in particular, and she would hop into them eagerly and allow herself to be toted around, purring like a nut.
- Cali enjoyed all the usual cat snack greatest hits — cream, salmon, etc — but she was also passionate about the (less predictable) Hawkins Cheezies and muffins (to the point of digging muffin wrappers out of the garbage).
- We have a laundry closet with foam sound insulation on the back of the door. A couple years ago, Cali figured out how to open that closet by pulling in just the right place on the bottom of the door — and from that day forward, she would finish every day with a little ritual of opening that door and scratching briefly at the foam. We always joked that she was “doing the laundry.”
- Cali had a ratty old toy from kittenhood that she felt sentimental about. Or something deeper. She would dig it out of her toy box once in a while, carry it around, and let loose with two or three haunting, throaty yowls — the only time we ever heard her make that sound.
Embarrassing, odd names I actually called my cat in real life every day for years
- Mow mows
And my favourite and the strangest:
Goodbye, Cali. Goodbye, Meowmadon. You will be missed forever.