Akimbo

Our cat Templeton sleeping in the window seat

Yesterday evening I wasn’t sure if I was going to be up to going to work today, but looking at pictures and writing here was cathartic enough that I felt up to it this morning. I managed pretty well for the most part, though at one point I needed a breather and went outside to walk a number of laps around the track. The Canada geese didn’t seem to mind that my eyes were watering.

When I came back in, I sent this picture of Templeton from my laptop to my work account and set it as my background on my second monitor. I normally keep both monitors covered with the applications I’m working with, but I intentionally kept the second monitor clear so I could see Templeton. It’s a large monitor so he was watching over me all afternoon, larger than life.

His gorgeous green eyes seemed to do the trick and I was fine the rest of the day — right up until I walked into the house and there wasn’t a little gray head popping around the door to welcome me home. Scout came running in to meet my like she usually does, so I played with her for a while until I finally got hungry enough to eat something. She slept in her warm bed for a bit before disappearing to sleep in the heating ducts, but has now returned to the warm bed beside me. She’s doing pretty well all things considered.

While looking through some old pictures I found a little movie clip of Scout as a kitten riding on Templeton’s back and biting down on his head. It was taken with a little digital camera that had very low resolution and poor quality, but it made me laugh and certainly shows how tolerant he was with her. Other pictures from the same time show him giving her a bath and cleaning out her ears. Her ears have always been clean thanks to him, so I guess it will be up to us to take over.

I’ll post the picture of her biting on Templeton’s head at some point (it’s a shame I took it with our little camera instead of the SLR, but I didn’t have much warning and thankfully she grew out of her head biting phase). Today’s picture is a little more serene and another one from 2001, Templeton zonked out in my window seat, legs all akimbo. I chose this one today because it reflected a change in his attitude towards me.

I first met Templeton back when I met my wife, and at first he was a little jealous of the attention I was getting, so he’d nip my ankles and then run off. That only lasted for a day or two, he quickly realized that I loved to play with him and so we became partners in crime.

After my wife and I got married a few years later and moved in together, I got to see Templeton every day. At first he still thought of me as the one to play with and my wife the one to go up and snuggle with when he was ready to sleep. But as the months progressed, he came to see me as someone to curl up next to as well. I eventually put a pillow on my desk so he could curl up beside me, but sometimes the quilts on the window seat were just as inviting.

Templeton didn’t open up so completely to just anyone, so I was thankful for times like these when he chose to be near me. To fully appreciate the picture, you’ll have to purr happily to yourself. He had a lovely loud purr and wasn’t shy about using it when he was with those he loved.

Missing One

Our cats Templeton and Scout sleeping in my window seat

I’ve been re-editing some pictures of Templeton, it was hard at first but it has helped me feel better in the past hour or so, and writing these posts has helped as well.

It will be interesting to see how Scout will deal with the loss of Templeton — she has worshipped him since the day we brought her home. She’s gotten more independent as she’s gotten older, but she still loves to play with him. Shortly before we took Templeton to the vet, she walked over beside him, plonked down on her back, and grabbed his head with her front paws, her classic invitation to play.

The poor guy was so spent that he could barely move, so I pulled Scout away. It turned out to be their last moment together.

She’s done OK today, she obviously knows that he’s not around and has been hanging out with me most of the day. I don’t think the full gravity of the situation has hit her yet, after all he did disappear for a week a couple of years ago when he needed surgery after swallowing a needle and our friend Heather graciously looked after him while we were out of town visiting family for the holidays.

Scout is zonked out beside me now in her heated bed, last winter this was one of Templeton’s favorite hangouts but he didn’t want to sleep there this year. Scout was happy enough to take over, which is nice as it sits next to my desk. She was snoring a little while ago but has quieted down now.

We’re about to head up to bed where she’ll curl up on top of me for the night. A positive end to a difficult day.

This picture is from January 2002, Scout (on the right) was 8 months old and curled up with Templeton whenever she got the chance. They’re sleeping in the window seat in my office at our old house in Keizer, a favorite place of mine to curl up with them.

Remembrance

Our cat Templeton resting under the Christmas tree

Today’s been an emotional roller coaster. When I awoke from the comfort of sleep this morning, I thought I was going to be OK. And I was for a while, but as the day wore on Templeton’s absence was too hard to ignore — Christmas was one of his favorite times.

I put up the Christmas tree yesterday, and that was the first time I realized something was wrong with Templeton. He loved the tree and the big box it came in, and when he didn’t come upstairs while I assembled it, I went down to get him. He wasn’t interested in the tree and was all hunched over when he walked — we left for the vet a little while later. In the space of a few hours I went from thinking he was fine to holding him as he died.

Today we decorated the tree and put up the rest of the Christmas decorations. There was the nativity set he loved to stick his head in, the ornaments he liked to play with, the tree he liked to sleep under and the tree skirt he loved to sleep on (and hack up hairballs on), the decoration that he’d chew on if we didn’t watch him, the wrapping paper he loved to play on.

Normally when I’m upset I like to snuggle up with Templeton — he loved to snuggle and would emit this wonderful purr that helped me relax. He was just so happy when he was with the ones he loved. I wish I could do that now.

I’m working on a novel in which the pets of my life are the major characters — Templeton of course is one of the main characters in the first story. One of the joys of writing is that these characters have lived in my head for the past couple of years, a mixture of the pets in real life and the characters from the story, and thinking about them has helped me when I’m down. One of the central themes of the story is dealing with loss, so they have come in useful over the past year.

Those voices have been silenced temporarily, as the present loss overwhelms my thoughts, but in the long term I know they will return. One of the characters is based on a dog named Ginger that we had when I was in college but who died very young, it’s been a joy to have her character from the book bring that lovely little dog back into remembrance on a daily basis.

I know someday soon the same will be true for Templeton, but for now it is time to grieve.

Yesterday’s picture was from January 2001 when we lived in Keizer, Templeton was playing with one of his catnip bags and took a momentary break. I had just gotten my first digital camera the week before at Christmas, so it’s one of my earliest digital pictures.

Today’s picture is from December 2004 and taken at our house here in Portland, he’s watching the Christ child in the nativity set.

Templeton 1992-2007

Our cat Templeton with a catnip bag

Everything seemed normal yesterday. Templeton died in our arms tonight.

We arrived home yesterday from a trip back east to attend my grandmother’s funeral, and Templeton ran to meet us at the door, much like when he waits by the door to greet me when I come home from work.

He seemed fine yesterday, but he was having problems this evening so we rushed him down to DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital (the same folks who performed surgery to remove the sewing needle he swallowed a couple of years ago). The x-rays showed a mass that was making it difficult for him to breathe, and since he wasn’t going to be able to get enough oxygen, they gave him an injection and he died peacefully in our arms.

It’s a sad night for us and I feel miserable, but I’m thankful that he didn’t suffer and I’m very thankful for the fifteen wonderful years he spent with us. He was as magnificent a little creature as I’ve ever known.

Goodbye, little one, and thank you.

A Familiar Conversation

Our gray tuxedo cat Templeton rests on top of the bookcase

Whenever I’m editing pictures of Templeton and he walks by, we always have a similar conversation. As he casually saunters by, he’ll stop and stare at the monitor. “Oh my goodness, that cat is gorgeous!”

I say nothing.

He turns and says, “I mean all cats are good looking, but this one is just beautiful — did you take this picture?”

“You know that it’s you!”

Templeton squints at the monitor. “It is me!”

“Pride comes before a fall, little one.”

“A falling cat always lands on its feet.”

“Touché.”

Look Out Bellow

I’ve been working a lot of extra hours the past couple of weeks, often getting home later than usual, which might be why Templeton has now wanted to curl up with me in the evenings as well as the mornings. One night I as I got home late and started to heat up dinner in the microwave, I heard him bellowing from my office. Now Templeton’s always been a little vocal when he wants something, but this was louder and more insistent than normal. I ran into my office and he just sat there at the base of my chair, waiting for me to sit down.

I went back to the kitchen and the bellowing started again. This time I picked him up and carried him back with me, he seemed content to watch the microwave turntable spin around. When those long few minutes finally were up and the food was ready, I put him down and he ran back to my office where he circled my chair, murmuring quietly.

When my wife called later to tell me she was coming home, I had to let the phone ring, as it was back on my desk and there was no way I was moving Templeton after finally getting him quieted down. He was madly purring by then anyway, and who am I to disrupt a purring kitten?

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Me & T

Our gray tuxedo cat Templeton sleeping on top of my bookcase

After a lifetime of being a night owl, am I becoming a morning person?

Despite going to bed and getting up earlier these last few months, I wouldn’t go that far. But mornings have become one of my favorite times of the day. Templeton has been hanging out in my office all summer, sleeping in my chair at night and often cuddling up with me in the evenings. But then he started curling up with me in the mornings while I’m having breakfast, often circling my chair and murmuring to himself while he waits impatiently for me to get settled.

After I finally sit down, he hops up into my lap and softly purrs for the next half hour, one of those beautiful little slices of nirvana that you hope will never end. Those moments do end, it’s off to work and my time with the cats has to wait until I get home, when Templeton sticks his little gray head around the door as soon as it opens and Scout comes running downstairs to welcome me home.

Here’s To The Next 15

Our cats Scout and Templeton in the picture window of the dining room of our house in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon on August 12, 2007. Original: _MG_3623.cr2

Happy Birthday to Templeton! He turns 15 today.

I tried to get a nice picture of him but he wouldn’t pose for me, so I settled for a picture of both him and Scout sitting in our smaller picture window. I’ll try for a better picture later. He’s been hanging out in my office a lot lately, this weekend we’ve spent a lot of time cuddled up and purring. Well one of us was purring, the other was wishing he could.

Finally

Our gray tuxedo cat Templeton sitting in the backyard

I’ve been spending money like a drunken sailor the past few days. The biggest purchases were a normal zoom for my camera (to replace the one that got smashed) and a laptop to replace my beloved but aging Powerbook.

The worst part has been deciding what to buy as my decisions changed on an almost daily (if not hourly) basis. I finally settled on Canon’s 17-55mm EF-S lens to replace the smashed 24-85mm lens and Apple’s 15″ MacBook Pro to replace my 15″ Powerbook. I went down last weekend to get the MacBook Pro but the store was out and didn’t get their shipment from Apple during the week. In the meantime I changed my mind and decided to get the regular MacBook instead of the Pro. If you’re reading this post faster than normal, it’s because it’s being written on my zoomy new white laptop instead of the old slower silver one.

And the lens? I changed my mind at the last minute on that one too and ordered Canon’s 24-105 L lens. That should be here on Tuesday (along with a circular polarizer, an 8 GB CF card, a remote release, an extension tube set, a card reader, a 2GB stick of memory for the MacBook, and a partridge in a pear tree).

Blame the drunken sailor.

And in case you’re wondering, the picture has nothing to do with this post, it’s just a picture of Templeton from last year that I finally got around to editing. He’s zonked out beside me at the moment but I’m sure he’d approve.

A Warm Bed

Our cat Templeton sleeps in a heated cat bed with only the top of his body visible above the rim of the bed

We’ve had a bit of a cold snap in Portland lately. Templeton often seeks out warm places to sleep even during normal winter temperatures, so before Christmas my wife bought him a little bed that has an electric warmer built into the bottom. It warms up when the cat lies down, which seemed like the perfect thing for a sleepy cat. Only problem was, Templeton wouldn’t go in it. Scout seems to think it of the devil and won’t have anything to do with it whereas Templeton just didn’t seem that interested. I promised my wife that I could get him to use it in a few weeks. She washed the cover just in case it had a smell they didn’t like.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present you with exhibit A: Templeton zonked out in his new bed.

He’s all curled up now beside me and snoring a little bit so hopefully he will continue to enjoy his new bed. On the plus side, if he sleeps here instead of my chairs, maybe it will avoid little incidents like I had today where I came home from a visit to Ridgefield and promptly sat down in a hairball he hacked up while I was gone.

Good times!