2007 update on Mom Cat
PC was a great cat and companion.
I would like to tell you about my cat PC.
======== PC's Birth ========
PC was born the morning of April 6, 1992 in the home of Yolanda Alemán located at 1203 Larkwood Drive in Austin Texas.
PC's mother was a gift as a kitten to Yolanda's daughter Lisa in the fall of 1989.   Lisa was in high school and a friend gave her two kittens as a birthday gift.   Lisa named the gray and black tabby "Curie" as she was a curious cat.   The other cat, a long hair white cat, ran away a few months later on a trip with Lisa to Corpus Christi.   Curie was an outdoor cat and soon was having litters of kittens.   The first litter of kittens, in the fall of 1990, and a second litter in 1991 had been born and raised outside.   After the kittens were weaned, we captured them and took them to the animal shelter for placement.   Unfortunately, since these were "wild" kittens with little human interaction, it was doubtful they would find homes.
When Curie became pregnant a third time in early 1992, it was decided to encourage Curie to have the kittens indoors and develop more human interaction with the kittens.   Yolanda set up a large cardboard box with towels inside and put the box in the garage with the expectations that the kittens would be born there.   On the morning of April 6, 1992 (Yolanda's father's birthday), Curie began delivering the kittens underneath Yolanda's bed.   Yolanda carried Curie who was still delivering kittens to the box in the garage.   Yolanda then began taking the newly born kittens from her bedroom to the box in the garage while Curie was trying to get back into the house and deliver more kittens under the bed.   It must have been quite a scene.
Since I had previously owned a gray and black tabby that was named Klinger (1974-1991) I decided that I would like to have another such cat.   I selected one of Curie's kittens, a male gray and black tabby to be mine.   About six weeks later, in late May, after he was weaned from his mother, I took my kitten home.   I also helped place some of the other kittens from this litter with co-workers.   One of these other kittens later grew to be over 20 pounds! PC would grow to be about 15-16 pounds, much larger than his 11 pound mother.   PC's father must have been a large tom cat.
======== Naming My Cat ========
I took several days thinking about a name for my new cat.   The musical production of "Cats" was currently a big hit.   This musical is based upon T.S. Eliot's book of poems titled "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats".   A particular poem of interest is "The Naming of Cats" which explains how cats actually have three names and the importance of giving a cat a proper name.   I went through and discarded scores of names.   From my childhood I remembered a cartoon show called "Top Cat" that had a lead cat character nicknamed TC.   The early 90's was the time of personal computers, or PCs, just becoming a common item.   I joined the two ideas into "PC" for Personal Cat.   This would be a unique name for my cat and would identify the relationship between him and me.
For the next several months, it was just PC and me living in my house.   He and I developed a close bonding.   He was my cat, and I was his human.
======== The Morning Rub ========
Early on we developed a particular routine that continued to the day he died.   Each morning as I stood in the bathroom and shaved, he would lie at my feet.   The moment I was finished and turned off the water, he would insist upon my rubbing him with my foot.   I would rub his back along his spine and rub his head and ears.   No matter how much I rubbed him, it was never enough.   Often he would wait for me to finish my shower on the chance that I would rub him more.   Sometimes I would.   On weekends, when shaving was not my first activity, he would follow me around the house as I had coffee and read the newspaper until I made my way to the bathroom to shave.
The morning rub after my shave was our special time together every day.
======== Mother and Son are Reunited ========
Yolanda and I married a few months later on January 30, 1993.   At that time Yolanda, Lisa and her cat Curie moved into my house.   PC was reunited with his mother, Curie.   We wondered how their reunion would work out.   While they were not always close to each other, the two cats would play together several times a day or lie together on the sofa or a chair.   Since Lisa was off to college at this time, the care and feeding of both cats became my responsibility.   I renamed Curie to Mom Cat.   We had both cats neutered and de-clawed and they became indoor house cats.
======== The Five Minute Rule and Herding Cats ========
Cats are creatures of habit.   Yolanda and I realized some years ago that our cats would hang out in the same room we were in whenever we were home.   Our usual routine in the evenings is to watch TV in the family room.   The cats would gather there with us.   If both Yolanda and I went elsewhere, such as the study or a bedroom, within a few minutes the cats would follow.   I called this the five-minute rule.   If we left a room and did not return within five minutes, the cats would come looking for us.   If we were only gone for a minute or so, they would simply wait for us to return.
At night, as Yolanda and I prepared for bed, the cats would follow us to the bedroom.   We had learned long ago that to keep the cats out of our bed at night, we would have to close them out of the bedroom.   We developed the habit of running the cats out of the bedroom just before we went to bed.   Eventually we only had to clap our hands a few times and the cats would know to leave, jump off the bed and out the door.   Who says you cannot herd cats?   They just never learned to close the door behind them as they left the bedroom. :-)
======== The Nature of Cats ========
PC was a skittish cat.   Any unexpected noise would make him flinch.   Mom Cat, on the other hand, was generally unfazed by noises.   Sometimes she will slowly open her eyes and turn her head to see what the commotion is about, and sometimes not.
PC was also afraid of strangers.   Whenever people came to the house, he would disappear into either our bedroom or, more recently, into our closet on top of an unpacked moving box in the back corner of the closet.   While Mom Cat would eventually come out to see who was visiting, PC would seldom make such a move.   We were likely to only see him after all visitors had left the house.
Sometimes when Yolanda and I would be out of town for several days, we asked a friend to check on the cats each day and refill their food and water.   Usually our friend would speak to the cats and Mom Cat would make an appearance. Our friend seldom would see PC as he would stay hidden, probably under a bed.   That was just his nature.
======== Adjusting to a New Home ========
PC was always an indoor cat.   When he was still very young, I had his front claws removed so he would not tear up the furniture.   My previous cat, Klinger, had done quite a bit of damage to a sofa and love seat, so much so that we had to replace them.   I knew that when I had PC's claws removed, he would forever be an indoor cat.   Fortunately he never appeared eager to try to get outside.
PC spent most of his life inside one house – 9328 Knoll Crest Loop.   I brought him to this house when he was six weeks old, in May 1992 and other than a couple of trips to the vet, he never left this house until we moved thirteen years later to our new house on April 11, 2005.   I knew that the move to the new house would be traumatic to both the cats, although I figured (correctly) that Mom Cat would deal with the move better than PC.   I planned as best I could the move for the cats.   First, the new house has a special plan for them.   I built a kitty bathroom in the garage with a cat door entry from inside the kitchen pantry.   There was a specific spot in the pantry for their food and water.
When the day came for the move, we kept the cats at the old house in the small bedroom that had already been emptied.   This kept them away from the movers and all the activity of the move.   While they could hear all the commotion, they were at least in a familiar spot.   The cats were to be the last items moved. This was done so that I could stay with them in the new house upon moving them.   The move in the cat carriers went well.   Once in the new home, I had hoped that the cats would become curious, explore it and become comfortable quickly.   Instead the two cats immediately found the small guest bedroom and hid under that bed for over 24 hours.   Once they emerged from under the bed (Mom Cat first) they only ventured as far as on top of that bed.   It fully took a second day before they really began to slowly explore the new house.   I think it took a month before they were comfortable with the new home.
Fortunately, soon after the move, PC and I returned to a normal daily routine – the morning rub.
Our new home was built with plenty of space.   We had Lisa, Shaun and their daughter Brianna living with us in the upstairs area.   PC and Mom Cat had free roam of the house and appeared comfortable with all the people and our coming and going each day.   The cats even grew comfortable with Brianna, as a six year old child, petting them.
======== The Last Day ========
January 20, 2006 was another typical Monday morning.   The alarm went off at 5:45.   I got up, used the toilet, and then opened the closet back door into the laundry room and called for the cats.   As always PC came quickly from the family room, down the hall, through the laundry room, into the bathroom and went straight for the bath mat at my sink.   As I began to shave, Mom Cat wandered in, looked about and took her usual spot on the antique bustle bench along the opposite wall.   The moment I finished shaving and turned off the water, PC rolled over onto his side, turned his head and spoke to me.   It was time for our morning ritual.
As always I stood on one foot and rubbed him with the other foot.   After a few strokes, he shifted his position to indicate that I should rub him differently or in a different spot.   Over the years I had learned how he wanted me to adjust the rubbing.   After a few minutes, I needed to move along with my morning routine so I got in the shower and PC headed off to his spot in the back corner of the closet.   After my shower, I dressed, kissed Yolanda goodbye and left for work.
That evening I arrived home shortly after Yolanda arrived home.   She had just discovered PC lying motionless on the bathroom floor just a few feet from the bath mat at my shaving sink.   She gently broke the news to me that she thought that PC had died.   I went directly to the bathroom and found him lying on the floor.   Indeed his body was cool to the touch and somewhat stiff.   I gently used my fingers to roll his eye lids shut.   I sat on the floor next to PC and softly stroked his fur one last time.   I knew he was gone.
We don't know why he died.   We will never know.   I decided to bury PC in our back yard about 200 feet behind the house between a pair of large cedar elms I have name the "twin towers".   I felt this was an appropriate spot.   I had to buy a shovel to dig a deep enough hole.   Yolanda contributed a plastic storage box that was large enough to serve as a casket for PC.   I secured the box shut to discourage other animals from digging him up.
The night was chilly and damp.   Not a rain nor drizzle, just a heavy mist.   The clay soil was difficult to dig.   I took the most of an hour to dig a suitably deep grave.   About 8:30 PM I asked Yolanda and Brianna to join me for a brief burial ceremony.   With a lantern and flashlights, I led them out to the grave I had prepared.   I spoke a few tearful words and laid PC to rest.   As Yolanda and Brianna held the lights, I shoveled the dirt, filling the grave and we said goodbye to PC.
The next morning as I stood at my sink shaving, I felt something brush past my leg.   It felt like PC telling me in his way that he was there for his morning rub.   I quickly turned to look, but there was nothing there.
I will miss my cat, my companion, my beloved "PC".
Feb. 21, 2006
======== Epilogue ========
It has been just over four weeks since the passing of "PC".   I ordered a grave marker over the Internet from a place in Washington called Sandstone Creations.   It is 16" wide x 10" tall x 2" thick and is pictured to the right.   It was placed on PC's grave two weeks after he died.
After PC's death, we were concerned for Mom Cat.   How would she respond to loosing her one feline companion?   I have made an effort to give Mom Cat some special time each evening.   In addition, each morning after I arise from bed, one of my first actions is to open the bedroom door and call for Mom Cat to come join us for our morning work preparation activities.
The first week or so after PCs death, Mom Cat would walk around the house as if searching for PC.   She would walk in and out of various rooms and walk all around each room.   Now, four weeks later, that searching activity has fairly much ceased.   Mom Cat has developed some new habits.   She has new places to sleep including my computer desk chair (at night), on our bed (during the day) and sometimes on top of my audio amplifier in the family room.   Mom Cat is also a lot more vocal or talkative than she even has been.
Yesterday, four weeks and one day after PCs death, as I prepared to start shaving, Mom Cat came over to the bath mat and laid on the floor next to my feet.   After shaving I rubbed her with my foot as I had done so many times with PC.   Over all those years, she had watched me rub PC this way from where she would lay on the bustle bench across the bathroom, but she had never indicated any interest in this activity.   Now she very much enjoyed this rubbing.   Frankly, I enjoyed it also as a way to connect with Mom Cat and to keep alive the memory of PC.
This morning Mom Cat again came to the bath mat for a morning rubbing after my shave.   While two days in a row may not indicate a lasting trend, I hope and believe that this will become part of a new morning ritual for both of us.   We will both enjoy this.
March 22, 2006
======== Epilogue 2 - Mom Cat becomes The Cat ========
Mom Cat, pictured at left as a young kitten, became my cat.   Since that day in March 2006, she was with me every day for the morning rub after my shave.   Every evening she would sit in my lap as I watched television or surfed the Internet on my laptop computer.   There was often a struggle beween Mom Cat and the laptop as to which would be in my lap.   I usually would accomodate her by placing the laptop on a TV tray or the arm of the chair and letting her lay in my lap.
Often, Yolanda and I would eat dinner in the family room as we watched television.   Mom Cat knew to wait while I had a plate in my lap.   Once I was finished with dinner and either set the plate aside, or got up and put the plate in the sink, then Mom Cat would come to claim her spot in my lap.   Each evening, as we prepared for bed, she would come and jump up on the bed.   I would rub her until Yolanda was ready for bed.   Then with a clap of the hands, Mom Cat knew it was time to leave for the night.   She would carefully climb down off the bed (she was not as young as she used to be) and make her way out of the bedroom, but only after a quick rub of her chin on a corner of the wall.
This routine continued for over a year.   Mom Cat was in all respects my cat filling the role played by her son, PC, for all those years.
======== Another Last Day ========
June 27, 2007 began as other days.   After the alarm went off, I rose and opened the bedroom door for Mom Cat to come in.   While I was standing at the sink shaving, she waited at my feet.   When I finished shaving, I rubbed her with my foot, and then I showered, dressed and left for work.
That evening when Yolanda and I got home from work, it was obvious that something was seriously wrong with Mom Cat.   She walked in an awkward manner.   She would not hold her head up and she could not walk straight.   She often stopped and looked about, as best she could, as if to determine where she was, or what it was she wanted to do.   I knew things were not right.
I ate dinner and kept a close eye on Mom Cat.   While waiting for me to eat, she took her usual spot of lying on top of the A/V receiver in the lower cabinet of the entertainment center.   After dinner she climbed into my lap and I rubbed her.   She did not appear to be in any pain, but she could not lift her head nor turn it to the left.   She appeared to be confussed.   After a while I decided that I needed to take her to see the vet, that night.   On the Internet I located the AM/PM Animal Hospital which is open 24 hours on South Lamar in Austin.   I put Mom Cat in her carrier and off we went.
The people at the AM/PM Animal Hospital were very nice to us.   The vet, Dr. Jennifer Renner, did a thorough exam of Mom Cat and ran some urine and blood tests.   Unfortunately these tests identified the cause of the problem.   Mom Cat was in kidney failure.   Blood transfusions, a version of cat dialysis, would be expensive and only give her a few more days or weeks.   And, they would not be quality days of her life.
There really was not much option.   The only humane thing to do would be to end her discomfort and pain by putting her to sleep.   Dr. Renner was a great comfort to both Mom Cat and myself.   As I held Mom Cat in my arms, gently stroking her fur, her life was ended in peace.   I know that she had a good life for nearly eighteen years.
Mom Cat was buried in our back yard next to her son, PC.   A grave marker was ordered and arrived today, one month after her death.   That marker is pictured to the right.
The house is quiet these days.   It is not that my cats were noisy, but one or the other or both have been in the house for many years.   The house always had a living being, a soul, a heart beat.
Now the house is quiet.
I am sad and I miss my cats.   Right now I cannot think about having another cat.   Maybe later I will, if only because of the love and affection shared by myself, PC, and Mom Cat.
July 27, 2007