Is It Just Me…

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

…or has anyone else noted that (with the exception of fat acceptance blogs and heavily moderated feminist blogs like Shakesville and FWD) the comments section of virtually any article or blog post having to do with fat people in any way quickly devolves into a series of unsolicited diet tips? EET LES AND MUV MORE LA LA LA OF THERMODYNAMICS I TEWTALLY LOOSED 15 POUNDS ONCE AND KEPT 10 OF THEM OFF 4EVER SO U CAN LOOZE 100 IF U TRY IT’S SCIENCE.

Just wonderin’.

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The Kitty Who Taught This Fatass How to Love

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Seems like there have been plenty of sad kitty stories going around the Fatosphere in the last year. Scroll on by if you don’t wish to read another.

A week ago Saturday I lost the most wonderful kitty friend I have ever had. That’s him, above. His name was Pendo — his name had already had been bestowed upon him by my pet sitter in San Francisco, who rescued him. She told us it was a Swahili word for “love and friendship,” and after meeting him for five seconds and feeling his silky head burrow into our hands, my now-ex and I couldn’t think of a better name for him. He just radiated love, and we knew he’d be a wonderful friend.

As a kitten, he’d been left for dead in a Dumpster with the rest of his littermates, with a corneal ulceration which we had to give him medicine for (the vet said it was from feline herpesvirus). How can people do shit like that to animals and live with themselves? He never did recover full sight in his right eye. And a couple of years ago, a routine vet exam had turned up a heart murmur that led to a diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickened heart valve). So all things considered, the fact that he made it to age 9-1/2 is pretty miraculous.

And he loved me so much.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I always love my cats and goosh incessantly over them, and I’ve got two others I adore and would hate to lose. But with Pendo, I knew somehow it would hurt that much more to see him go. More than any other cat I ever knew, he needed me — not just for survival, but for closeness — and wasn’t afraid to let me know it, night and day, every day.

I had gotten custody of him in the divorce (along with Binkley, my icon-kitty), and I can truly say that when I had nobody else around to love me nonstop like I needed then, he did. I told myself it was projection, it didn’t count like winning over a human did, all I had to do was feed him, all this…crap. Of course it “counts” to be loved by an animal. Does it ever! Sure, Pendo loved everyone, it seemed — even other cats! — but it was my attention he wanted most, always. Always wanted to engage with me. Always wanted to make sure I was awake and paying attention. Zoning out with a computer screen or a book? He’d fix that. He was a chatty guy — he meowed more than all my other cats combined — and he had quite the vocabulary of chirps, beeps, epic-yowls-of-boredom, polysyllabic squeaks, and don’t-put-me-in-that-carrier-again screams.

He could be exhausting. It seemed like he wanted everything, all at once. “Feed me! No, play with me! No, pet me! Do it all! I want I want I want!” I actually had to leave the house if I wanted to write, most of the time. A lot of the time, his meowfests would culminate in me following him around telling him to show me what he wanted, only to have him walk two rooms over and flop on the floor with his belly in the air. Like he couldn’t have done that in the room we were already in. (And yep, he ate into blogtime, too, no question.) But I truly believe I wouldn’t have been able to love Chris the way I have if not for Pendo, all out, not hiding anything. And he feels likewise, that Pendo was someone who unlocked his heart, who got him to feel for an animal the way he never thought he could have.

I was probably in a bit of denial about just how serious his heart condition really was. I knew cats with HCM typically didn’t live a full life span (and trying to get him to take his meds was a nightmare beyond belief) but I was hoping against hope that he’d be the exception. After all, he had no clinical symptoms; if not for the vet hearing the murmur, I’d never even have known about it. And the ultrasound said the valve was only “mildly” thickened. And yes, he was the one cat I had who was “normal” weight, the one I could point to and say, “See, I have one thin cat! The fat mom really doesn’t have them all hooked up to chocolate pudding IVs, honest!” But he was the one with the biggest health issues, and as it turned out, the most expensive ones thus far. (I haven’t had to take Binkley, who might be the biggest cat you’ve ever seen in your life, in for anything but routine vet care since he was a kitten, and that’s almost 8 years now. And Zevon actually weighs quite a bit less than him now and has been mostly fine since the food switch, about which more later.) I pretty much had to clean out my life savings to try to save Pendo after he collapsed in the living room two days before he died, screaming in agony, and they couldn’t save him. When they treated his heart, his kidneys started failing, and that was that.

Now he’s gone, nothing left but his hair clipping and paw print card and ashes, and I can’t believe how quiet it is in here. He just filled the place up with all his commotion and noise — and oh yes, love and love and love and love. He packed a lot of living into those 9-1/2 years, just like his mom — I counted no fewer than ten different residences I had with him during his life (although only two in the last five years), in four different states. I wish things had been a little less hectic for both of us during all that time. But when I close my eyes and picture him, he tells me I gave him everything a cat could want. And now he wants me to go get everything I want, everything I put on hold or slowed to a crawl to take care of him, and says that anyone who can’t see what I have to offer doesn’t know what they’re missing. Fat feels great when you’re curled up on the pillow next to mommy and she’s got her nice soft arms around you, holding your back feet just like you want her to. Who cares what other people think?

We have kind of a running gag now, Chris and I, that when one of us wants something like a chocolate hazelnut milkshake (in January!) or a long luxurious nap, that “Pendo would want us to.” Of course, Pendo would just want me to quit my job, too, and the hell with having health insurance — I used to tell him that if he paid my salary, I’d be happy to just follow him around the house and watch him do his stop and plop for eight hours a day. It would be a lot more fun than listening to doctor-drone. But you know, having two people who worked out of the house, he probably got more fuzzy-face time than a lot of cats who live full life spans do. I really did give him everything a cat could want. And he really did know more about how to love — and accept — better than most humans. He’d want you to have that chocolate hazelnut shake, too, even if you never got to meet him.

Sleep tight, furbaby.