Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Luna's Tale

She was my first cat. We found each other at the Dane County Humane Society in Madison, WI. I was a starving grad student with barely enough money for groceries, let alone to feed a critter or pay for vet bills. But as I walked by her cage at the shelter, she reached out her paw and tapped my shoulder. Of course, that was that.

Well, not quite. Figures I'd get picked by the cat with legal issues. They wouldn't let me adopt her for almost two months. Her owner wanted her back. But the owner was doing time, and the kitten, along with a rather unique collection of exotic critters, had been taken from her apartment by Animal Control. I visited the shelter several times a week and called almost daily. In the end, the adoption supervisor figured a bird in the hand was better than a jailbird. Luna came to live with me in my teeny tiny one-room efficiency. And I lived in constant fear that a hardened criminal would any day show up at my door with a posse of her felon friends to reclaim the cat.

Luna used up several of her 9 lives within the first month of living with me. The first week she fell into the toilet. Several weeks after the toilet incident she fell out of the window. Luckily, it was only half a story down, there were bushes that broke her fall, and she had managed to pop out the screen window and ride it down like a magic carpet. She never again showed any interest in wanting to get closer to nature than a screened-in porch would allow.


The window that claimed one of Luna's 9 lives.

Two months after I brought her home I had  to have emergency surgery. My parents arrived from the East Coast to take care of me, and by extension the cat. My parents are a lot of wonderful things, but they are not pet people. My dad stayed in my apartment that first night, while my mom stayed with me at the hospital. The next day dad informed mom that the cat was not right in the head. I had been in surgery when they arrived and hadn't been able to warn them about Luna. The kitten had spent the night doing her aerobic exercise routine. First came the whizzing around the apartment with much bouncing off walls, furniture, and humans. For her next trick Luna would  climb up into the cupboard where I kept my pots and pans and knock the whole stack down onto the floor. After scaring herself silly, she would then whiz around the walls for a few more laps, until her poofed out tail returned to normal size. Her final trick was the nightly shredding of the roll of toilet paper. After all that exercise, she would be starving. She would set to work eating her way through the plastic bag that contained the loaf of bread--or whatever baked goods were available. My dad refused to return to the apartment with the cat after that first night and booked a motel room instead. Luna eventually outgrew her habit of shredding toilet paper rolls. As for her other habits, well, anyway. And she maintained a life-long fondness for bread products--her favorites were croissants and brioche.

DE1 12-91

This is the kitten my dad thought was mentally deranged.

Cantankerous, crotchety, foul-tempered, and a miserable old bag are just some of the endearments my friends have used when referring to Luna. After one round of cat sitting, they all came up with very creative and highly implausible excuses for why they couldn't cat sit again.  I guess I can't blame them. Luna attempted to bite every single cat sitter that came into her life--and succeeded on more than one occasion.  I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I had no idea, until about a year ago during a visit to a vet dermatologist, that torties have a reputation for their quirky, some would say downright difficult, personalities. I will confess, on more than one occasion the thought that an exorcism might be in order did cross my mind. Of course, I never admitted this to my dad.

Over the years Luna adopted to major life changes, such as moving or the addition of a new critter or human to the household, with less than good grace and much ill-temper. Kitty sedatives only made things worse. When Wing Nut moved in I was living in NE, and Luna was 12. Wing Nut brought with her her own 6 month old kitten, White Socks. White Socks was a holy terror--very reminiscent of Luna in her first year. But Luna would not be outdone. There was much racing, chasing, leaping, launching, and catapulting over furniture. I feared my geriatric cat would break a hip. Thankfully, a reasonable peace was eventually reached.


Luna, shortly after Wing Nut and White Socks moved in. This is her "I'm not coming out till you get rid of them" phase.



Luna, Snuggle Bug, and White Socks adjusting to life in NE.

Wing Nut always treated Luna with love, respect, and a healthy dose of fear, and Luna always gave Wing Nut ample warning, even multiple warnings, if she was not happy and was considering treating her like one of the many dispensable cat sitter. On rare occasions, Luna even deemed to let Wing Nut see her sweet and cuddly side. Yes, she did have a sweet and cuddly side. Luna would flip on her back and snuggle in the crook of my arm at bedtime. She would reach up a paw, claws completely retracted, and pat my cheek or nose. Luna also had a nurturing side--which lasted for about a week when Snuggle bug first came to live with us back when Luna was about a year old.

Luna bathing Cimarev

The black ball of fuzz is 5 wk old Snuggle Bug. And Luna is bathing her.  


Luna pouncingrev

A week later. Poor Snuggle Bug. Luna's nurturing phase is about to come to an end and kitty boot camp is about to begin.

The final chapter in Luna's life began with a 4 day cross country drive in the back seat of our Saturn, along with the other 2 cats, as we made our way from NE to WA. Both Wing Nut and I came mighty close to losing a limb trying to get Luna into her carrier on the fourth and final morning of our journey.  The steady diet of salmon, shrimp, and mackerel which we were able to feed her once we arrived in Seattle earned us Luna's lukewarm forgiveness for having had to resort to a broom to get her out from under that motel bed.

And then we brought home the dog.  Ill-temper does not begin to describe Luna's reaction to Diva Dog. The only time the dog was tolerable was when she was sleeping, and therefore looked like she was dead. Her dislike of the dog did not stop her from eating the dog's kibble, drinking the dog's water, playing with the dog's toys, and sleeping in the dog's bed. And woe to the dog if she dared complain about any of this.


Luna takes over the dog's bed.


eating x4take 2

I said it couldn't be done, but Wing Nut proved me wrong. All 4 eating at the same time and in the same room. Technically, Diva Dog only has her 2 front paws in the kitchen, while the rest of her is in the next room.

Luna was not a talkative cat but would chirp when she was playing. She would sit for hours on the table or desk while I worked, never interrupting or demanding attention as most cats do, just keeping me company. No matter how late into the night I worked, she would stay with me. She had the silkiest fur and mesmerizing green/gold eyes. She was not a shy cat. She was alert and inquisitive and mischievous. Luna was spunky and feisty and irascible and down right pissy at times. We were made for each other.


This is Luna, so not impressed by the fact that an experienced photographer with fancy camera equipment was trying to take her picture. Photo by L. Janas.

PS: Thank you so very much to all of you who left us comments on the earlier post, Luna. Your kind words and thoughts were most comforting.




Philip Bewley said...

Luna was a cat with personality! I just loved reading about her.
Our cat, Caliban was the most affectionate thing. We cried so loud that the neighbors asked if we were ok! We had to go around with sunglasses as our eyes were so red. So, we did not get a cat again for, oh, 8 years. Then this last August Isis came into our life, and things have not been the same since. She is a Siamese, which means that she is from another planet.
I so enjoyed hearing about Luna's exploits, the racing around, her toilet paper shredding, her sleeping in Diva dogs bed! and how attached she was to you.
Thanks for sharing this heartwarming post.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

That was a lovely story about Luna. Thank you for sharing it.~~Dee

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Torties are my favorite type of cat - I have had two - both lived to ripe old ages.
Lovely post about Luna - and I have enjoyed reading it.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Thank you for sharing Luna's story. It sounds like she didn't put up with any nonsense.

Magic Cochin said...

Thank you for telling us Luna's story - we now know why she was extra extra special!
I love the photo of Luna on the dog bed - the girl's got style. And as for that look she's giving Snuggle Bug... I wouldn't get her way!

The tabby studio assistant has tortie tinges and a lot of tortie character too ;-)

Sarah Laurence said...

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Luna has clearly lived a happy life as it looks like cat haven in your home. What a sweet tribute. It is so hard to lose a loved one, and now you shall always remember Luna and all her quirks.

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

I love the name of your cat, Caliban, Philip. Yes indeed, Luna had personality. Yesterday I mistook the little garbage can by my desk for Luna. My desk isn't the same without her draped up on the hutch.

Thanks for taking the time to read it, Dee!

Torties are definitely a handful, Karen. Perhaps they should come with a warning label--especially for first-time cat owners!

No nonsense is right, Aunt Debbi! Thanks for stopping by to read Luna's story.

I wish I'd known about the tortie character traits sooner, Celia. It would have explained soooo much. We have a 30 sec video clip of Luna drinking from the dog's water bowl and growling at the dog the whole time. Definitely a cat with attitude.

Thank you Sarah and thank you for taking the time to read Luna's story. She was very special to me.

Karen said...

She sure found the right person to live her life with! I wonder if part of her "feistiness" had to do with how she might have been treated as a kitten in a home with a person of not-so-good judgment and other scary beasts around. Anyway, she was lucky to find you and you her. In that last photo, she looks almost human, her eyes especially. Lovely tribute, and again I'm so sorry for your loss.

Dave said...

Luna was a very pretty cat! They become such important members of the family. I understand just how you feel. I enjoyed hearing the stories of Luna. She and Amber sound so much alike!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! Sounds like she met life on her own terms and enjoyed it to the fullest. I think it's great that she knew how pretty she was! I know she will be missed. Thanks for sharing her story.


Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

I do think Luna and I were perfect for each other, Karen. I agree about that last pic! At the end of her life, Luna would just sit and stare at me intently. Was she trying to tell me that the end was coming? It was really freaky how intense she was her last few weeks.

Hi Dave. They really do become very important members of the family. I enjoyed Amber's stories too. Thanks for stopping by.

Greetings Maggie! Luna was one spunky cat. Even at the end, she did live life on her own terms--no ultra-processed special medical diet for her! No icky meds either. We're most thankful that our vet recognized and respected Luna's personality. Thanks for reading her story. And thanks for leaving us a comment!

FoxyMoron said...

What a lovely tribute to a wonderful cat.

You were blessed to have her for so long, and I'm so sorry for your loss.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Curmudgeon .. I know posting about this tugged at your heart so much .. but some how letting us know about Luna's story helped a little with your grief.
I get it all .. I have been a cat person (with a sprinkle of two adorable dogs) all my life .. but there is a level you reach with cats that is special.
The last 2 years have been so hard , we lost 2 precious Calicos who had a Siamese blood line in them so they also were from another planet : )
Our first one, was our steadfast gaurdian .. she moved to Holland and back to Canada with us (she was a well travelled cat !) .. she chased housekeeping staff out of our hotel rooms .. these grown adults were terrified of her .. we were told to have her in her carry case and BE in the room when the staff had to clean there .. so YES .. I understand Luna .. Molly was in charge of our lives she would protect us to death, or just make sure housekeeping knew their place ? .. I'm sorry I have gone on and on .. once you start taking about your own cats .. well, it happens.
Again .. I'm so sorry about your loss .. it aches a very long time .. but it will get a little easier with time .. they have a huge part of our hearts. Joy : )

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

Greetings FoxyMoron! Thank you so much for stopping by and reading Luna's Tale. I certainly was blessed.

Too funny GardenJoy! I can picture it perfectly--this sweet, fluffy kitty scaring the hotel staff out of the room! They are such special creatures--the cats, not the hotel staff. Thanks for reading Luna's Tale.

Kerri said...

Luna's tale is a special one. I loved reading it. Thank you for sharing. I know she left a big hole in your heart and how much you must miss her.
We've had several tortoiseshells..quite a few in the barn, and a few in the house. Jasmine is a tortie, and yes, she has quite the attitude! She sounds so much like your Luna.
They are such a part of the family. More hugs being sent your way. xox

RantWoman said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting Luna's bio. I am sure it does not make you miss her any less, but every one of the stories is just priceless!

The sory of White Socks' arrival made me think of another kitty I know who basically has kitty circus whenever a kitten buddy comes over for catsitting. It makes me smile to think of Ms. Luna having kitty circus with White Socks.

My grey tabby Ms Fuzzface came to me with a rap for shredding toilet paper too. Well her preceding human wasn't sure whether it was Ms. Fuzzface or Teddykins, the other cat in thse household. Somehow in the move maybe Ms. Fuzzface forgot about the trick, though it did happen once much later for some reason i can only guess.

Dear World,
I know Curmudgeon from a long time ago so I was thrilled when she and Wing Nut decided to come to Seattle. Sometimes I invite myself to the Wenches' house for dinner and now I have even decided to comment in their blog instead of just by email. I have MET THIS CAT. Considering her bruising history, I am honored that she deigned to allow me to pet her.

Maybe she detected that I have been appropriately trained by Ms. Fuzzface. Maybe she just had recurrent fleeting nurturing moments, but she liked to walk around and swish her tail at my feet while I sat and yakked with the Wenches.

I heard the story of how she got a record with whatever NE authority keeps tabs on fearsome domesticated animals. I saw her when she, as the vet put it, had no pants due to kidney or food issues and saw her again much happier after the vet's suggested regimen helped her get her pants back. She hissed at me a time or two when I was first around so I would know when to move my hand, but she came back again and again when I came over. When I think of her I miss her almost as much as I do Ms. Fuzzface, but Ms. Fuzzface is a story for another day. This is Luna's moment!

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

Thank you for the warm thoughts Kerri! Luna is much missed. Things are much calmer, not as much growling and snarling, but there is much sadness and a big emptiness in that calm.

Oh! The "no pants" phase was terrible! She looked so sad with all the fur missing from her back half. RantWoman, Luna is probably growling at you from on high for having mentioned this most humiliating period of her life. ;-)

RantWoman said...

Oops. You're right. I don't think I ever got the growl, but if not growling, definitely hissing!

Tell Ms. Luna that true friends love you whether you have your pants on or not, but definitely agree when it's more appropriate to have pants on.

Weed Whackin' Wenches said...

ROTFL RantWoman! Just had a flashback to our 2D days.