From Emerson’s Mommie:
Several months have now passed, and I still haven’t posted a memorial to my dear fluffy boy, Mr. RW Emerson. It was too painful for me to do so at the time, especially with his death coming only a day after I learned of the death of a dear human friend. Now time has moved on, and some of the memories are fading despite my vows to remember everything about him.
I first saw him sitting all alone in a glass cage at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter on Friday, September 11, 2009. Other people were also in the cat room, including a group of college student housemates who were cooing over a litter of tabby kittens. I played with the beautiful orange boy through the cutouts in his cage. He nibbled my finger. I found him adorable. When I finally had the opportunity to interact with him in the playroom, he wasn’t all that interested and seemed overwhelmed. But I was already in love with him.
The shelter rules stipulated that he had to be neutered before I could adopt this 13-week old kitten so the surgery was scheduled for the next available day, a Monday. Unfortunately, that day I received a phone call that the little guy was running a fever and could not undergo the surgery. He had a stubborn virus that staff veterinarian had thought was under control after he had been fostered, but the stress of being at the shelter and then preparing for the surgery must have been too much for him. The shelter director, whom I knew professionally, offered another kitten, but I wanted my orange baby and was willing to make him well. I know now how impossible that would prove to be.
Regardless, Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson eventually underwent his little “snip, snip,” and he came to live with us as my 18-year-old feisty tortie Bathsheba developed skin cancer (Squamous cell carcinoma) in her mouth and died shortly thereafter. He was such a comfort.
With a name like RW Emerson, our boy had intellectual expectations to fulfill. We made jokes about his serious entomological and ornithological studies. What a scholar! In addition to his academic prowess, he possessed great skill at crinkleball and practiced daily on the rectangular playing field of our foyer. We imagined a crinkleball scholarship to Princeton in his future.
Oh, how Mr. Emerson loved crinkleball! If we wanted to summon him, we simply rustled the crinkle of the ball, and he would come running. He also enjoyed the feather wand and would follow it as I swept it up and down the stairs repeatedly. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how much energy he had when he was well.
But Mr. Emerson was unwell, a lot, and his timing was always problematic. He required a trip to the vet and subsequent hospitalization in the midst of a terrible snowstorm in December 2009. Upon our leaving him at the vet, the car got stuck in a snowbank on our return home without him.
Before Emerson turned one, he was outside with me and suffered an injury. He leaped off the deck rail in an effort to snag a bird at our feeder. He missed and ended up with a dislocated knee. Of course, it was the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Upon examination, the doctor determined that Mr. Emerson had a heart murmur and that surgery would be risky. Off we went to some specialists. Mr. Emerson’s knee was mended, and he began a daily dose of heart meds. We bought a large dog crate for Emerson’s recovery, and we set it up in the family room complete with a small litter box, scratching post, soft bed, and food and water bowls. He loved that crate so much that we kept it set up for him after he recovered, and it was still there when he died.
Mr. Emerson was a wonderful companion despite his heart ailments. We took him on some family trips, and he was a good traveler. He was no longer allowed to venture outside, but he loved to watch birds and squirrels from the comfort of his home. He enjoyed supervising me whenever I cooked or baked. He purred. Sometimes he would grace our laps with his presence. He came to bed with us every night for his special treats. Besides the rustle of the crinkleball, the cry of “Treats!” always brought him to us. We had a little ritual where we would put a treat between our lips, and Mr. E would gently take it from us. It was like a kiss from him. We delighted in hearing him crunch on his treats instead of swallowing them whole. We all looked forward to “treat time.” I always held out hope that Emerson would settle down on the bed after treat time, but he would usually depart once he deduced that no more treats were forthcoming for the night.
As Mr. Emerson’s disease (juvenile-onset hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy) progressed and his pharmacopeia became more numerous and complex, it became increasingly difficult to administer his pills. At first I could just hide the pills in his “stinky goodness” (canned food), then when that no longer worked, Pill Pockets did the trick. After a while, he wised up to the Pill Pockets and I was flummoxed. I finally found a pill shooter that worked fairly well, but I sympathized with my little guy who had to take so many pills several times a day. He also became a fussy eater as his appetite waned, and it was all I could do to find something other than treats to sustain him.
When Little Nicky came into our lives in February of 2011, we had to be very careful with her introduction to Mr. Emerson. We had to ensure that her health was A-OK and that she would not introduce any disease to our boy. Outwardly, he appeared healthy and fairly active, but we didn’t want to take any chances. Luckily, Little Nicky was and is a very healthy kitty.
Emerson and Little Nicky got along well, but were never quite the bosom buddies that I hoped that they would be. They did enjoy playing with each other, especially in the morning. They loved to play hide-and-seek or “pounce” with each other in large bags. They would even chase each other around the house, sometimes with a bag trailing behind one of them who was caught in the handle. What fun!
Mr. Emerson had a luxurious orange coat, but he was not a fastidious groomer. I suppose that’s why he never ever hacked up a hairball! He did not care to be brushed and his long hair would develop mats. He didn’t mind the zoom groom, but it did little for the mats he developed. I loved to work on his mats, but he didn’t appreciate my efforts. I did find a wonderful comb that gently removed mats, but he usually tried to flee when he saw me approaching with grooming tools.
Mr. Emerson was a dear companion whose life was cut short by some bad genes. He gave us great joy while he was with us, and we have some wonderful memories. I will never forget him, and I do feel fortunate that I had him in my life. He was well loved.
Mr. RW Emerson, 6/11/2009 - 8/6/2012