This is the last photo of Foot, short for Underfoot. His chip name was Mercury, changed from the original Zeus, and Mercury fit him a bit better, but Underfoot fit him the best.
A couple of months ago, we realized that he was getting a little more svelte, so my beautiful wife ran him into the vet’s office, where the new veterinarian there very matter-of-factly said he had terminal feline leukemia, and he did not have very much time left.
Well, that time ran out yesterday.
He’d been in decline for a long time; in the last couple of weeks, he’s been less mobile. We were afraid he would pass when we were on vacation–these vacation fears are not without precedent; we boarded Aurora when we traveled a long time ago, and I took calls on my cell phone at the happiest place on Earth regarding her emergency care, although Aurora bounced back, not a big bounce, but she lived for some time. Since we’ve been back, though, Foot had not been moving around much at all. He slept in our closet by day, and then he would come out in the afternoon to lie in the sun in door windows in the bedroom or in the living room. But he rarely came downstairs to eat or drink, and even when proffered meat just nibbled.
On Tuesday night, he made a rare foray downstairs; I was reading a book to be reported on later. He had been walking crookedly, a bit, but this time his rear was lower than the front. I’m not sure how long it had been since he’d eaten, although he was very fond in the last week of licking up water from the walk-in shower. He looked up at my wife in her recliner and tilted his head a couple of times like assessing the jump and not liking his chances. So I picked him up and let him nestle in with his mama for a time.
Wednesday morning, he was not to be found. He’d discovered a good place to hide in the walk-in closet, where he’d been hiding mostly, although he would pop up between my legs when I was urinating or he would walk into the shower after I finished and left the door open for his convenience. So I called it. I said we should make his appointment, and we did, for yesterday afternoon. When he appeared, my wife took him onto her lap for most of the morning. When the appointment’s time came, I took him offer her lap so she could change, and I put him in the sun beside the back living room door for a few minutes. The place where he’d spent so much time in the years past. And then we took him in, and that’s a story I cannot recount in words.
Ah, but enough of the maudlin. What will I remember of Foot?
- As you might recall, he was our most recent roommate. He, a young, thin cat who was already front declawed and neutered, appeared in our backyard, and he came when my beautiful wife called him. That was enough for him. We have no idea who let him out; he had no chip with data about a previous owner. However, he was very defensive about his right side–if you tried to pet him there, he would snap at you.
- Relatedly, he was a bit of a nipper. When you were petting him (safely on his head), he would sometimes give love nips. Perhaps these two biting situations explain why he was out of doors.
- He eventually became food secure when he was about 18 pounds, his chonker stage. We got the talk from the vet every year.
- When I was going down the stairs, sometimes he would come bounding down the stairs behind me. If I was in the center of the stairs, he would run into the back of my legs. We soon systemized it to my descent on the left, his passing on the right.
- He would race me to the food dish. Whenever we met at the base of the stairs, whether I had come down stairs or from my office, if I started towards the refrigerator/coffee pot/bar/cat food dish, he would race me. If I sped up, he would speed up. Sometimes I won, sometimes he did.
- After a year or two, he decided that 2am was the right time to lie upon my pillow and groom me. He had a very rough tongue. As I am loath the disturb a cat in the bed–which can disturb me, my wife, and the cat–I often yielded the field to him and slept downstairs.
- Other times, when I would go for my nap, he would take position on my pillow or would put just his head on my pillow and nestle against my face, or sometimes he would lay his cheek on the top of my head. He really wanted to be friends with the other cats, but they are standoffish and not other-cat-friendly. Although he would sometimes accidentally-on-purpose lie so he was touching Athena or Roark, who would let him. He did groom, and get grooming from, Roark. Once.
- He did not meow. When he was happy, he would grunt. Like the sound I heard from a contented pet rabbit a long time ago. And he would purr, of course.
- He would meet us at the garage door when we got home. He would hear the garage door go up and come to the kitchen. Perhaps he was happy to see us. Maybe he just wanted to go to the big room on the other side of the door. He was the most likely to step out if a door was left open; and he recently somehow got fleas, even though the other cats and residents did not. That might have been his downfall.
- He got the nickname “Underfoot” because he was constantly around our feet, especially in the kitchen. So we learned to always look down as we were cooking, unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, and so on. So when you see us doing that, it’s not because we’re demure; it’s because we don’t want to trip over the former speedbump.
I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night, thinking about tempus fugit and my newest Latin phrase, Optima dies….prima fugit (the best days are the first to pass).
The house is a little emptier, but not as much as he had died suddenly. He will be missed, however.