Wednesday, December 17, 2014

May the APBA Cat

Sometimes the more important things in life come in the smallest sizes.

In my case, it's a 5.6-pound cat that I've had for seven and a half years and, now that her mortality is in question, I have discovered the magnitude of smallness. My cat, named May by those at the shelter where I found her in 2007, has some ailment that is now causing her to have mini seizures at times. It's alarming to see; she's always been a quiet, innocent animal. But when these hit, she falls, curls up and lies still for a moment. Within 5 second or so, she awakens and, albeit a bit confused, returns to her routine.

I took her to a veterinarian two weeks ago and he prescribed May medication, saying she may have an enlarged heart that causes these spells. An enlarged heart. That's kind of appropriate, what with all the love the cat has provided me these past seven years.

May the APBA cat with a 1974
Milt May APBA card
She greets me at the door when I come home from work each night, she sits on the arm of the couch while I watch sports on television. When I roll the replay games I do, she often sits in the same room watching me toss dice. Yes, she is an APBA cat. When she was younger, she would jump on the table where I played thegame and scattered the baseball game cards to gain attention. She'd also paw at the dice, knocking them to the floor. I don't know if she rolled any 66s (the universal dice roll for home runs in our APBA game).

After my wife passed away in 2006, a grief counselor suggested I get an animal to care for. She assumed I needed to replicate the care I gave my wife and thought an animal would be a good continuation. So, I opted for a dog and I almost got one. I found a blind shepherd in Memphis and actually headed over to meet him when the weather turned rough and I forewent the visit.

A few months later, a friend told me of a cat at a Hot Springs, Ark., shelter and on St. Patricks Day, 2007, I adopted May. She's been here since.

I never thought I'd be a cat person. My parents owned cats when I was young, but I never had one when I was on my own. It became a contest of who could train who. I thought I had the edge, training May to not scratch furniture, to use the litter box properly and chase string. But she won out, knowing I'd feed her whenever she wanted, play with her and let her sit on me when I watched television.

We bonded in 2009, I think, when a massive ice storm struck. I was without power for four days. Others lost electrical service for weeks, so I was lucky. I covered the event for our newspaper and the paper offered to put me in a hotel while I waited for my power to be restored. The hotel wouldn't take pets, so I opted to stay home instead, stoking my fireplace with wood and wrapping myself with blankets to stay from freezing. May stayed by my side during that time, probably because I was warm, but we both survived.

This is the first time she's been sick since I've had her. And while the replication of care probably helped me in the long run, I've discovered I am reliving some of the trauma I did when my wife was fading with the kidney disease that eventually claimed her. Lately when I come home, like I did before with my wife, I wonder if I will find May passed away.

Maybe I'm being too melodramatic. The medication seems to be working. She had one spell last night, but she'd been free from them (that I've seen) for a couple of days prior. And maybe getting all worked up over a cat is silly. An APBA cat at that. But when you deal with loss like I have, you cling to what you can and it takes on more of an importance. A 5.6-pound importance.

UPDATE: Jan. 25, 2015.
I lost May yesterday. Her seizures increased and, after trying different medications to avail, she had to be put to sleep. It was heartbreaking having to do that. The veterinarian clinic was very supportive, but it's hard. I miss my friend.


  1. Great story, Kenneth. You sound like a very nice person. I hope things work out for you, friend.

  2. Not silly or melodramatic at all, don't think that for a minute! Makes total sense --- maybe moreso to pet lovers, but still, your feelings are totally understandable, especially in the context you described. I've had to go through three cats' illnesses & having to put them to sleep, plus having one stolen from me when I was about 12. Hurts like hell, especially when there are other stressors going on in your life at the same time. I know the emotional attachment that happens with cats, it's almost deeper than dogs (in a way) because often it takes longer to fully develop. Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves so to speak, cats you almost have to woo like in a (human) relationship. (This is also my theory why less men seem to be able to relate to cats--- guys want the instant gratification of affection that's always there with a dog, but with a cat, it actually takes some effort.) :p
    But not all men of course; I'm glad you're one of the ones that got to discover & appreciate a cat's love. I hope May will be alright & still have many healthy years ahead; she's still relatively young. I have two right now, one is 12, & the other 8, & they are a great comfort to me, especially during sad or stressful times.

    1. I Just read this a year and 3 days later after you wrote it and realize something. This is reason no. 20 billion why you are in my heart. You get it. (You even make an early introduction to our Sleeveheart.) This was one of those "hmmmm" moments that I learned you are really special.

  3. I can relate, have had a cat (not the same one!) in my household from about 1993-on, and have had to put two down due to deteriorating health situations---that is traumatic as any pet-owner/animal-lover knows. Hope your cat has some more years in her, she is lucky to have found a good human! Also, best wishes to you, Kenneth.

  4. Hello Kenneth,
    Wonderful story about your beloved cat. I am in my early 60s and never was a cat fan until 2009 when I got a kitten for my Dad to raise after three feral cats he had died. After two litters Mom was spayed and we gave away all but four offspring. Dad died in 2011 and the dog we we always were partial to (The Killer) died a year ago Feb. 26. Although the five cats were important to me before my Dad and the dog's passing, they loom much larger in importance to me now. I know I need to get another dog but I haven't done so because I think it would break my cats hearts. Most nights two, three or sometimes four find their way to the top of my
    bed after I've gone to sleep. A couple of them try to speak to me frequently and I can tell who they are by the pitch of their voices. I know to a non-cat lover this all sounds like gibberish but I'm guessing you understand everything. Best-Curt J/OR