Family heirlooms sometimes come with fur and paws
There’s something wonderful about owning something passed on from generation to generation.
I have my grandfather’s clock, which, as a doctor, he received in lieu of payment during the Great Depression from the family of a boy who was very sick. I have a box of sea beans, little hamburger-like pods my other grandfather collected on the beaches of Florida when he was a boy. He’d shine the beans up, carve holes in the faces and then he’d place a compass in the face and sell them as fobs to sailors.
I plan to give to our daughter all that – and our cat, Binky.
Binky is 16 years old. But she will outlive us all.
We always assumed, as nature has such an order about it, that Binky would be the first of our cats to die. She is, after all, the oldest of our cats, who have, over the years, included Fuzzz, Wally and Bob. And she tends to spend a lot of time at the vet’s office with one ailment or another.
But even my daughter realizes she’ll probably carry that cat to her lawyer’s office and, in making out her will, hand the cat over to her kids.
The first time Binky knocked on death’s door she was a wee mite of a kitten and came down with a respiratory infection. She was so sick, she couldn’t even hold her head up. I took her, cupped in one hand, to the vet, who performed magic and brought her back to life.
The next time she tried to die was shortly after she gave birth to three kittens. I will not provide details, as this column, I am told, is sometimes read before breakfast, although those who know me time their reading for other hours.
Later, when Binky was about 8, she stopped eating. The vet said her rotten teeth hurt too much and needed to be removed. Binky has three teeth left.
Last year, she went to the vet with Kitty Wasting Disease. She weighed all of about 4 pounds, and her backbones stuck out like the spines of a stegosaurus; her ribs were like washboards.
The vet pumped her up with fluids and sent her on her merry way. The next day, she was chasing butterflies in the garden.
The day she got home, our cat Wally started falling down. Wally has never been sick a day in his life – not counting a broken arm – so we were kind of surprised to learn he had heart failure. He died shortly thereafter.
He was only 12.
Binky marched on down the years: 13, 14, 15.
Then our cat Fuzzz curled up on the couch and breathed his last; we have no idea why. He was 9.
Binky then contracted Kitty Wasting Disease again and began throwing up and becoming less cognitive. Instead of showing us how much she loved us by presenting us with dead voles and squirrels, she stopped using the litter box. We end seemed near.
We took her to the vet last year, and they told us she has kidney failure. They sent us home with an IV bag, several large-bore needles and a bunch of plastic tubing. We were instructed on the finer points of filling her up with fluid to dilute the poisons in her body. We have to pump her up every day for the rest of her life, however long that might be.
Ha! That could be forever! This can’t doesn’t know the meaning of death! The vet knows not of her will to live!
She bounced right back from the brink of death and is happily bringing us voles and squirrels again.
But then our cat Bob contracted Kitty Wasting Disease. He, too, is far younger than Binky. Bob was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
We bombarded it with steroids and antibiotics and bought him another six months of life. But last week, he went downhill again. Binky brought him a vole. Bob started having seizures, and we had to take him to the vet, for the last time.
So we’re left with Binky. Bob, Wally and Fuzzz will live on in our hearts. But Binky will live on for generation after generation.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com. If she’s not there, try her veterinarian’s office.
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