Yes, I am a crazy cat lady – proud and happy slave to little Frieda, and now also the lovely Peabody. I’ve heard that once you have a baby your cat becomes “just a cat,” but no way, no how, not in my case. Keats is my human baby, and Frieda is my fur baby, through and through. I’m from a family of major animal lovers, and while growing up we always had a menagerie of goats, rabbits, hamsters, dogs, doves, pigeons and other furry and feathery friends about. But no cats. For some reason my middle sister and I were deathly allergic to cat fur. As I grew up, though, I outgrew my cat allergy, and my family started to add cats to our household mini-zoo. We had Rudy and Oedipus and Orbital and Phaedrus and Fudd, and when I moved out of the house and Josh and I moved in together, I knew we had to get a cat.
So, little Frieda (or “Munchie,” as she was unfortunately called at the time), came to us at 3 1/2 months old from the Vancouver SPCA. A little acrobat, Frieda can twist and turn herself into a kitty pretzel. She’s quite something. A bit of a biter sometimes, but an utter delight nonetheless. After about 5 years of having Frieda, we thought it might be a nice idea to get her a friend. (I mean, can you imagine never being around another member of your own species?) So, after much cruising of cats on Petfinder (like the Lavalife of pets), Josh found a scraggly little Persian named Rambo. As soon as he sent the photo, I fell in love. We went to the North Vancouver District Animal Shelter to meet him, and I felt all starstruck, as though I was meeting a celebrity. The way he lapped water out of a Styrofoam cup with his flat, funny little face just got me. He had my heart, instantly.
He was a sweet, friendly, loveable little guy with a difficult past (his medical records were full of reports of mange, herpes, injuries and other awful traumas). He had crimped-looking charcoal fur, a crooked jaw and a snaggletooth, and he was just beautiful. Okay, so he pooped in the sink and peed in corners and on walls to mark his territory, but the little dude had had a rough time of it so far, you know? We had him for three years, and although that is a short time in the scheme of things, I grew to love my dear little Rambo so fiercely, as though I had known him my whole life. Other than Spud (my childhood-to-early adulthood dog), my love for Rambo was the closest thing to love for a child. I love Frieda very much, but I really did love Rambo like a baby. I’ve always seen myself as the protector of and advocate for the lost, the beastly, the disenfranchised, the quirky, and those who just don’t belong. Rambo had been at the animal shelter for more than a year, and Josh and I were so proud to give him a forever home, a place to belong.
Things weren’t always easy with Rambo (he really had a terrible behaviour-related peeing problem!), but for some reason his high-maintenance-ness just made me want to protect him all the more fiercely. In the end he went downhill very quickly, and on May 30th this year we had to put him to sleep due to renal failure. In a sympathy card to us, our wonderful vet wrote, “He was the scruffiest wry Persian I’ve ever met, but totally adorable.” Maybe it was partly due to the pregnancy hormones, but I cried more than I ever have for any pet when Rambo died, for his vulnerability and his sweetness and what a sad little life he had until he came to live with us. And I’m crying now as I write this, of course. I think Rambo chose to pass on when he did because having him and a baby in the house at once just wouldn’t work.
And so what does a crazy cat lady do to properly memorialize a dearly departed pet? Why, commission a needle-felted custom sculpture, of course!
Yes, I know, I am a complete nutbar. But isn’t he gorgeous? He was made by the lovely Gerry of Gourmet Felted, and he’s a perfect mini-Rambo. Just arrived in the mail this week. I won’t embarrass myself further by saying how much I paid for him, but you can easily see for yourself on Gerry’s site (I paid for him in $25 installments over a period of 5 months – does that lessen the crazy factor a bit?) My very patient and understanding husband helped me to place him in a little display case, and how he sits atop a shelf in our living room, surveying his old stomping grounds. And luckily this felted Rambo can’t pee on anything.
Here’s to all our pets, both the living ones and the non! Chin chin!
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