Saturday, December 12, 2009

Truman, 1996 - December 10, 2009

It seems almost surreal to be writing a eulogy for Truman just 15 days after Woody's death. Yet somehow at the same time it seems to make sense. Truman and Woody were best friends, were very connected, and were definitely a pair.

We first met Truman at an adoption even held in Balboa Park by a group called FOCAS. We actually almost missed Truman; we had spotted another grey cat that we liked but when we inquired the people said someone had already started the adoption process. Jayson pointed out Truman and I hesitated saying that we shouldn't rush and wait for the right cat. However, the more we spent time with Truman the more interested we were. Turns out he was the right cat. Truman had been a stray who ended up at animal shelter and was picked up by FOCAS and put into a foster home. As part of the adoption process his foster mother brought him to our house, mostly to check out the environment to see if it was suitable, plus to give the cat time to adjust with a familiar person there. When she opened the cat carrier Truman walked out, put his tail up, looked around, and walked upstairs to explore. It was clear that he was home.

We soon found out that Truman had a little problem with a sensitive stomach. Luckily FOCAS was wonderful with us and paid for all of his vet bills, as well as dropped off 75 pounds of litter to help us out. They knew that would be the best parents possible and wanted to do what they could to make sure we kept him. I think they knew that if Truman went back into foster care that he wouldn't be adoptable again. We were more than happy to do what we could to get him better and had no intention of returning him. His problematic stomach would actually stay with him his entire life but at least we were able to keep it under control.

For a cat with a sensitive stomach Truman was something of a chow hound. He was picky about what he ate, but he'd eat as much as he could get. No matter how much we fed him, he always wanted more. It got to be annoying on weekend mornings when he would decide it was time to eat and he wasn't going to take no for an answer. Eventually we got an automatic feeder and he began to pester that for food. Truman got pretty heavy at one point in his life but his vet pointed out that because of his overall size he wasn't grossly overweight. He was just a big cat, almost 3' from nose to tail. Even then, when he got over 21 pounds we decided that it was time for a diet. He wasn't thrilled by that and it became a game of trying to keep him from eating the dog's food, which only aggravated his stomach.

It's ironic that he loved dog food since most people who met him realized that he had as many dog characteristics as he did cat characteristics. When someone came to the door he would be there before the dog to see who it was. When we had visitors over he was in constant competition with the dog for attention. Adding in his being a chow hound and he did seem like a dog at times. He was referred to as the coolest cat ever by more than one person, and he really was. Even taking him to the vet, where they see hundreds of animals, he was a celebrity. Everyone there commented on how relaxed he was, and how unusual of a cat he was. He was an incredibly lovable cat. He could spend hours being rubbed and petted. I always thought it was nice that unlike so many cats who want attention only on their terms, Truman was always happy to accept attention and return love.

Unlike most cats, Truman liked to travel. We realized it on our trip up to Seattle when we moved here. After getting over the newness of being in the car he just relaxed and enjoyed the drive. When we would stop at a hotel he loved exploring the place; he wasn't scared or intimidated at all. The same thing happened in the different places we lived in Seattle. Each one was home as long as the two of us and the dog were there. After we bought a boat he even took to that once he got past the sound of the engine and the strange movement. He would camp up in the forward bunk while we were underway and just enjoy the ride. At the dock or at anchor he was very happy to explore both inside and out. It made it very nice to be able to have the whole family together for weekends away from home.

As he got older Truman slowed down, like most cats do. He still had his favorite toys that got his attention. His foster mother had told us that he loved anything with feathers and she was right. He also absolutely loved little furry mice with beads inside that rattled. If he had one of those around, he was perfectly content. We eventually found a rattle mouse with feathers on the end and that seemed to be the ultimate toy. He had a fondness for ripping off the fur and eating the feathers and would still play with the inside rattle part of the thing.

During his last year Truman had some health problems. Earlier in 2009 he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. We noticed he had been losing a lot of weight and that he just seemed ill. The vet quickly diagnosed the problem and we had him treated for that. He responded well at first to the treatment but then the problem was back. The vet put him on pills to regulate his thyroid and that had an effect. Unfortunately at the same time we began noticing blood in his litter box. The vet did some standards tests but couldn't find anything through those. To go any further would require a colonoscopy or exploratory surgery. Neither seemed like a good option since they would be expensive, would be uncomfortable to the cat, and wouldn't fix any problem, only diagnose it. The vet theorized that it could be inflamed colon disease or possible even colon cancer. There was no way to know.

There was a bad spell around the beginning of November and we really thought that it was the end for Truman. However, he rallied and seemed to be much better. It was obvious that he was tired and didn't have tons of energy but he was still lovable and was getting around better than he had in a while. Sadly, last weekend the bleeding returned and Truman very quickly lost all of his energy. Most of his time the last few days was spent on the sofa. Even then he was still lovable even though it seems to tire him out to lift his head. On Thursday Jayson found him curled up in his litter box. It looked like he had found a dark quiet spot and just curled up and went to sleep. I'm glad that he was able to spend his last days at home and when the time came, to die quietly.

I've never met another cat like Truman, and I wonder if I ever will. He was really a special cat with a lot of unique characteristics. I'm so happy that after living life as a stray he was able to find a home, and that the home was with us. He was very well loved and I definitely felt the love from him. It's strangely quiet in the house with both him and Woody gone. I suppose it's the end of an era.

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