Missing Morty

Morty (Short for Mordecai, or so I’m told) was the cat who inhabited the bookstore where I work. He lived there for about 10 years, and he was my favorite coworker. He, like many cats, liked boxes – and working in a bookstore, he never had any shortage of boxes to crawl into. I loved opening up a DVD box and finding only half a box of DVDs and the rest filled with a very fat black and white cat.

Morty was also my lunch buddy, as he had a penchant for people food. Especially turkey. Since the break room is always freezing cold, he didn’t usually turn down a warm lap to snuggle in or next to either. Since I tend to take little cat naps on my break at work, he was a nap buddy too.

Sadly, Morty got very very sick last May, and though I and another coworker nursed him pretty much constantly through it, eventually they discovered he had inoperable cancer. As much as I am glad I was able to be there to help care for him, I wish they had found the cancer sooner, as I really think he was in a lot of pain.

This week, I think because it’s the holidays and getting chilly outside, I’ve been missing Morty. I still think I see him around the store sometimes, usually when I glance over and mistake a black sweater or hat for a snoozing cat in my peripheral vision. I ate the last of the turkey soup at work (made from the Thanksgiving turkey carcass), and I couldn’t shake the feeling of wishing he was there begging for a taste. Last year he actually got up on my little tray table and licked at my soup bowl when I wasn’t paying attention (he also stole cheese).

Still, I’m glad I got to “work with” Morty – he was a big source of comfort during the holidays last year, when I was pretty unstable and work was beyond challenging. He was a good cat, and I miss him, but I am glad I got the chance to miss him, if that makes any sense at all.

*For those curious, the store is not getting another cat. Morty was grandfathered into the rules, which now do not allow for store pets of any kind.

Critters

(Inspired by a twitter conversation with Temerity Jane, Awlbiste, and Naithin)

I make no secret of my love of animals. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, even fish and reptiles (and amphibians!) are worthy of admiration from me. Yes, I’m the weirdo that feeds the garden toads, chases the cats away from the geckos that get in the house so I can catch them and put them outside, won’t step on spiders (and, in fact, will feed the big outside garden spiders), and chirps at the tree frogs in the yard.

I also am currently the caretaker of two (mostly) fabulous felines. Max and Charlie are a great deal of fun, and rarely a day goes by that I don’t at least smile, if not laugh at one or both of them being … well, cats. They love string. They love playing Kitty-WWF on my bed and then tearing after each other through the house like tiny furry rockets. They love playing chicken with my laptop.

Unfortunately, this time of year is rife with people doing horrible things to animals – particularly cats, especially black cats.

I get that not everyone is a cat fan (preferences, we has them), which is totally fine. Being annoyed with a cat is… well, part of living with cats, and when they do annoying things, generally it seems that the appropriate response is to shut the door, ignore them, go somewhere else, dump them off your lap, etc. Or possibly to engage in some corporal cuddling, whereby you are as annoying to the cat as it is to you.

Being annoyed with an animal does not equal maiming, mutilating, or otherwise doing horrible things to it – as TJ was noting had been happening in the news where she lives in Arizona, and which has recently been on the news from Florida. It doesn’t mean torturing an animal that is essentially helpless. (I’d rather not go into any more specifics, simply to avoid getting internet hits from creepy fuckers who want to do that kind of thing, but I’m sure a little Google-Fu will find you everything you never wanted to see, and more)

Reading about it, hearing about it… honestly makes me a little sick.

I look at Max, who was obviously someone’s pet that ended up out on his own for several months (whether through ill will or escape tactics, nobody knows), starving outside until he got picked up, and realize he was lucky. And that to live with us, he’s /really/ lucky. When we got him, he barely weighed 7 lbs and his fur was scrawny and thin.  Now he weighs 14lbs and is considered healthy – if a bit chubby – by the vet, with a gorgeous cream coat with pumpkin points.

I look at Charlie, who has taken the better part of two years to get over his fear of my husband and of anyone’s shoes and of loud noises, and see that he’s warmed up into a happy and sociable cat. And I realize he was less lucky than Max, but that he still has a happy ending that includes gooshyfood and feathers-on-a-string and a screen porch to watch birds from.

So if there’s a critter in your life that you love (or maybe just tolerate most of the time), give him/her/it a pat from me today.

I don’t know what any of us can do to keep horrible people from doing horrible things, so I settle for doing the best I can for the two I signed up to care for.

Obligatory note that if you are looking for a pet, rescue organizations that you can find through Petfinder.com are a great place to look (whether you want a young animal or an adult, and whether you want the standard cat or dog, or something a little less common).

Particularly if you are interested in a cat or kitten, adopting a black cat is often less expensive because of the superstitions commonly associated with them; you may not be able to adopt a black cat or kitten in the months of October/November, however, due to people doing horrible things to them and ending up on the news.

Joyriding

So one of the things about this house that the cats absolutely /love/ is the screen porch.  They sit out there and bask in the sun and then lay on the cool floor in the shade – quite literally all day long.  If I shut the door, they howl at me until I open it.

Yesterday evening I noticed we’d not seen much of either of them (which is somewhat unusual, most evenings we get visits from both perioidically), but I checked the porch and shut the door and went to bed.  Note that the porch light does not work, but I was pretty sure there were no cats out there.

I wake up this morning to the sound of very distant howling, and go to investigate, and there’s Max, sitting on the porch, howling to get in and get breakfast!

Spidey sense tingling.

I go out on the porch to find that they have, in fact, knocked one of the window screens out and Charlie is out in the yard eating grass.  He, of course, bolts as soon as he sees me.  Max is too busy inhaling kitty kibble to notice anything going on until I open the can of tuna.  I did give him some, and the rest went on a plate to go find Charlie.  He was hanging out by the garage, looking warily at the door and hungriliy at the tuna.  Fortunately tuna > all, and he sat down to slurp some up and I was able to nab him. (He protested loudly until he got inside and got his plate of tuna again)

So it would seem that the two of them spent the night out joyriding in the neighborhood – they’re both filthy (particluarly Charlie, who is medium-long haired) and probably will need at least a good brushing, if not a bath.  Fortunately they’ve had their flea/tick/heartworm/earmite medicine already this month, so they should be fine on that front.

It’s been a little stressful though, esp. in light of the massive plumbing issue we had yesterday.  But that’s another post.