RIP Nala, 1999 – 2017

So Nala has been dead for a while now, and I have always found something else to do, other than write this post. But it seems like an event that needs to be recorded here, since Nala is woven so much into the fabric of this blog. Sara and I got Nala before we were married, and Nala lived with me a while, just the two of us. Nala lived in 4 apartments / houses with us. She was there when we brought each of our kids home from the hospital.

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In fact, my 2nd post ever, way back in February of 2004, was about how annoying my cat was. If I would have had any idea at all that cats could live to be 17 years old, there is absolutely no way I would have agreed to this in the first place.

Nala was old, and sick. I was rubbing thyroid medicine into her ears, twice a day. She wasn’t super mobile, basically sticking to one spot unless she had to go to the bathroom, was rail thin, and to top it off we moved, which was a lot of stress for a 17 year old cat. So for some time we had been saying to the kids, “You know, guys, Nala isn’t going to live forever…”

Even still, it was a bit of a shock. We were coming home from our trip to Arizona, arriving home late from the airport. Often Sara and I will run in to do a quick check to make sure Nala’s okay before letting the kids in, but this time we didn’t because someone had checked in on her while we were gone and she had been fine. So Evelyn is the one who found her, and it was a rather unfortunate end to our trip.

The next day the big kids and I drove her up and buried her at the Haven. It was raining a little bit, and the three of us sang, “Goodnight, goodnight, sweet baby” to her. Ollie seemed pretty unphased, but Evelyn was a bit broken up about it, and I was sad to see Evelyn be sad (and certainly ONLY crying for that reason!)

We tried to explain a little bit to Alex, telling him, “All done, Nala” and “Bye bye, Nala”. He just shook his head and said, “No! More Nala!” However, he still calls all cats “Nala” and still looks around for her from time to time. I know he won’t remember her (though he will probably wonder why he called cats “Nala” for years).

As for me, I will mostly remember the years of spraying her with water and yelling for her to shut up, her peeing pretty much wherever she wanted, and getting matted up hair on everything. It’s easy to want to remember a glorified version of her, but any search through this blog will quickly show the TRUE nature of that nuisance cat. If you want to hit the highlights (or lowlights), here are a few “greatest hits” to get you started:

  1. I Wish the Cat Would Stop Talking With Her Butt
  2. Grumpiest Cat
  3. One Nuisance Cat For Sale
  4. Email From the Past

Although I’m glad that ankle-biting, loud-mouthed, worthless hunk of fur is gone, I cannot deny that this is the end of an era. Say what you want about her, she sure was good at Acquire, though…

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“Why I Should get a Bunny” – a persuasive essay by Evelyn

Evelyn has been wanting a kitten. I mean, like, REAAAALY wanting a kitten. Coincidentally, this happened to coincide with her taking on the role of cleaning the litter box. “I think she’s got toxoplasmosis,” said Sara after the 15th time Evelyn brought it up.

They were gearing up to write a “persuasive essay” in class, and Evelyn planned to persuade us to get a kitten. “The answer is no,” I said. “You can write whatever you want, but there is absolutely no chance you’re getting  a kitten.” (My dislike of our cat is well documented…I’ve been waiting for this thing to die for YEARS.)

She cried about it a couple of times (we weren’t being fair, we weren’t giving her persuasive essay a chance, yada yada), but nothing too unusual. So I was very surprised when her persuasive essay finally did show up, and it wasn’t about kittens!

Why I Should get a Bunny

Dear mom and dad,

You know I have wanted a pet of my own forever. You wouldn’t let me have a dog or a cat, but what about a bunny? I have several reasons why you should get me one. The first is that I would buy mostly everything myself, (except the cage). The second reason is that Nala was okay with Gus when we took him for a week. The third reason is that bunnies are quiet. Nala is always meowing but bunnies are quiet. Even if it makes some noise it would be in my room. The fourth reason is bunnies need little space than other pets. The fifth reason is bunnies are easily trained. Like going in the litter box not on the floor. They can do tricks too if you train them. The sixth reason is that bunnies are very clean animals. The seventh reason is they will eat our leftover vegetables. The eighth reason is nobody is allergic. The reason you should get me two is bunnies do better with bunny friends. The ninth reason is bunnies do better as indoor pets, so if we get a bunny from a shelter if would be good. The tenth reason is we don’t need to give it a bath. The eleventh reason is they are only awake dusk and morning and not in between. The twelfth reason is they can’t throw up! The thirteenth reason is they only need three hours of floor time. The fourteenth reason is I promise not to pick a bunny up. The fifteenth reason is I also promise not to get a baby bunny because baby bunnies need their mothers. The sixteenth reason is if I get tired of it or it doesn’t work out, [my teacher] said she would take it. The sventeenth reason why is I will cover up wires it woudl want to chew on. I also want to say that they coust about $20 at BinkyBunny.com, but at other places it costs up to $250 to buy a bunny. The eighteenth reason why is they don’t stink at all, PERIOD. Another side note. There is awesome cages at Clover.Forest.net, it costs about $50! So for all of these reasons get me a bunny please.

Yours truly,
Evelyn

She obviously felt very, very strongly about this, so we decided not to shut her down outright. Instead, she is going to take care of Ollie’s class rabbit for a month over the summer (our previous experience with this was pretty positive). She even spent two mornings interviewing Ollie’s teacher about the care and feeding of rabbits, so she’s pretty well prepared.

Say what you want about Evelyn, but she is EXTREMELY responsible. I have no doubt she will take excellent care of Chocolate Cuddlewuddles (yes, the rabbit is named Chocolate Cuddlewuddles…that’s what happens when you let kindergarteners vote), and I have no doubt that she will then turn that into a plea for either a rabbit, or a kitten.

Spoiler alert: when Nala dies, we’re not getting a rabbit or a kitten. We’re getting a break.

I wish the cat would stop talking with her butt

After a certain age, our cat just kind of decided that the world was her bathroom. Rather than using the perfectly good litter box, she decided that she mostly prefers the bathtub and/or floor.

Now, in case you’re not familiar with the habits of cats, poop and pee are more than just a necessary side effect of consuming nourishment; often they serve to send a message. Haven’t been spending enough time playing with the cat? Better check your pillow before bed. Not properly showing your obeisance to the true master of the house? Say goodbye to something you love.

At first I thought she was just unsatisfied with the state of her litter box. In the past she has “voiced” her displeasure over this matter in a similar fashion. Not this time; no matter how clean I kept it, she just kept on keeping on, often pooping on the floor directly in front of the just-cleaned litter box, as if to say, “See what I think of THAT, my friend.”

I hate to say I got used to it, but what was I to do? Eventually I just started making it part of my nightly rounds. Move the laundry to the dryer, scoop some poop, call it a night.

I fell a little behind on cleaning her litter, and I started to get nervous. Waiting for the “shoe” to drop, if you catch my drift. But it never came. No extra poop anywhere. In fact, I realized, there hadn’t been any improperly located feces in days.

When I finally got to the litter box, that sucker was full. And yet, no poop on the floor. No displeasure was voiced. How could this be? After going where she pleased for so long, what could have caused her to stop? Had I finally broken her? “These stupid humans. I’ve been sending them poop messages for MONTHS, and they still can’t properly clean a litter box. I give UP.”

As I pondered this mystery, I suddenly hit on the answer. Right about the time this all started, I had purchased a different litter than usual. It had been on sale, and it never for a second occured to me that Nala would notice, or care. However, we had finally used up our stockpile, and the current litter was the kind we usually buy.

Apparently, Nala is a Fresh Step girl.

I actually kind of felt bad for her. She had been trying to tell me in the loudest, smelliest way she knew how. “I would rather poop on a -5° tile floor than let my precious bottom touch that ABOMINATION you call Scoop Away!” She can’t exactly come out and say it, and besides, didn’t I already know? Cats talk with their butt.

On the other hand, SUCK IT UP, FANCY FEAST. Until you’re chipping in on the bills (or doing anything at all besides matting fur on all the winter hats), you can deign to rest your haunches on whatever is on sale this week. It’s a poop-box; you’re not eating off of it.

Oh well, all’s well that ends well, I guess. I just wish she could find a different way to send messages. One that doesn’t come from her butt.

Grumpiest Cat

You know how some people reach an age where they comically lose any desire to hold back from telling people how they really feel? They’ve just gotten too old to bother with social niceties, and they don’t really care what you think anymore? With people, it’s hilarious. With cats? Not so much.

For the past couple months it has become pretty clear that Nala has reached that stage of life where she is just too old to care anymore. This mainly means four things:

  1. Anybody is fair game for biting, at any time, for any reason. Sneak-attacking your achilles is no longer just my special gift to Sara; I’m ready to share that gift with the world.
  2. You’ll get up and pet me when I damn well tell you to get up and pet me, starting with 3 a.m.
  3. If I decide the kitchen table is my throne, than I shall recline on said throne. Your shouting is the buzzing of flies to one such as me.
  4. *I* decide where my litter box is.

This has all been a sort of slow evolution, but this is how it went down.

First off, she’s pretty much always woken us up in the morning, but I can kind of understand that. She knows we get up at about the same time, and she’s just early by 30 minutes (EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.) I mean, she’s a cat; I don’t expect her to tell time.

But then she started being off by like an hour and a half. And then she started also being off by about 7 hours. And then also maybe off by 4 hours. And then I started to think to myself, “Wait a minute, I don’t think she DOES think we get up 45 minutes after we fell asleep!”

We started tossing her in the bathroom one of the times she would wake us up so that we could actually get some sleep. She promptly responded by pooping on the bathmat.

Now look, let he among us who has not pooped on a bathmat cast the first stone. I figured that poor cat probably didn’t expect to get tossed into a dark bathroom for a couple of hours with no litter box, and didn’t plan ahead, bathroom-wise. When you gotta go, you gotta go. She did, after all, politely pee directly into the drain in the bathtub, which is about as polite as you can be in your time of need.

Except she did it EVERY DAY FOR TWO WEEKS.

I don’t mean to make it sound like she actually stopped after two weeks. Au contraire, mon frere. It’s just that it took me two weeks to go, “Wait a minute, I don’t think she WAS coincidentally trapped right when she has to go to the bathroom. I think she might even be doing this on PURPOSE!” (Give me a break, I was extremely tired; I was getting up like 4 times a night.)

Sure enough, these days she just saunters in and goes when she feels like it, even when we don’t lock her in there.

Just to recap: she wakes me up multiple times per night, just to show me she can. She uses my bathmat as her bathroom, ignores me when I tell her to get off the table, and bites me whenever I turn my back to her, yet she still expects me to buy her ridiculously expensive, medicated cat food.

All of this is a long way of saying that when Nala goes, and it may be sooner, rather than later, I will never, ever get another cat.

Nala Update

As some of you were quite concerned about Nala after my last post, despite my assurances that she’s an awful nuisance, I just wanted to give you an update.

We did take Nala to see the vet, which is the most *amazing fun thing in the world* if you’re a child, but not so much if you’re a cat. She had basically a clean bill of health, other than some fairly significant weight loss, but they took some blood for some testing.

Survey says? Hyperthyroidism!

This is apparently quite common in cats of a certain age, and Nala happens to be of a certain age, so there you go. Hyperthyroidism is associated with a number of things, including behavioral changes. However, the vet was skeptical that it could explain the refusal to drink from her bowl (if anything, hyperthyroidism should cause more drinking, not turning your nose up at the stuff) or constantly biting Sara. But, she allowed, every cat is different, so maybe it was related after all.

We were presented with 4 choices:

  1. Be referred to a specialist and treat Nala with radioactive iodine therapy
  2. Give Nala a pill every day
  3. Rub a cream into Nala’s ears twice a day
  4. Buy special food

My reactions were:

  1. Do what now? We’re still talking about the cat, right?
  2. Okay, I’ve had to give Nala pills before, and it is a nightmare. Practically impossible. She can isolate the pill and eat whatever’s around it, saving only the pill in her mouth for an hour before discretely spitting it behind a house plant. And now I have to do this every day??
  3. I guess that’s better than giving her a pill, but sheesh.
  4. Wait, one of the options was to do everything the same except give her different food? And you saved that option until last?

So, yeah, we’re getting her special food now.

Hopefully it will make a difference. Sara pointed out that in the long run it’s probably actually cheaper to give her radioactive iodine therapy, even though it seems expensive. But it just seems….wrong somehow. On the other hand, giving her special food has practically *no chance* of turning her into a giant, super-cat with magical powers. Then again, let me take a look at that ingredient list…

Grumpy Cat

Nala has acquired a taste for human flesh. Specifically Sara’s flesh. Every opportunity she gets, she sinks some fang into the back of Sara’s feet. Sara can be just walking around, minding her own business and then out of nowhere, fang in the achilles. She sometimes attacks me, but very rarely. She’s too frightened of the kids to try it with them.

Nala is about 13 now, and I think she is getting grumpy in her old age.

It’s not just the attacking either, she has suddenly become very particular. She will no longer drink water from a bowl. For a long time she has been gradually turning her nose up at her water bowl. At first I thought it was something to do with the bowl, so I tried several different bowls and different schedules for replacing the water. She continued to drink out of it less and less until now she refuses altogether. Instead, she either drinks out of the toilet, sometimes trying to jump in as soon as you lift the lid, or out of the bathtub, sometimes while you are taking a shower. I have to admit, at first I was worried about her hydration, since she seemed so desperate to get a drink. But then I remembered that she had a big bowl of fresh water sitting there that she was refusing on principle to drink. Makes it hard to feel bad for her.

However, I think we have finally crossed the line. Nala has suddenly decided that she no longer wants to go to the bathroom in her litter box. If I clean the litter box, she will deign to give it one use, but after that she’s done, usually preferring the bathmat.

Well I’m sorry, but I’m not cleaning the litter after each use, Mrs. Queen of Sheeba.

I’m not sure what to do about this exactly. You can’t really reason with a cat. Combine all of these things with a return to meowing outside our door before 6 every morning, and I’m kind of at wit’s end. I understand that the older generation may be entitled to a little bit of persnicketiness, but this is going too far.

Why is my life just a series of showdowns with my cat?

Is this the line for the piggy-back rides?

Because sometimes it’s not as much about finding a comfortable place to sit, as it is about displaying dominance.