Some of you may already know from Facebook or Instagram, but Ebenezer, a.k.a. Fidget, a.k.a. Hypercat, son of Ted E. Bare and American Beauty, passed away on Saturday. He had been quietly battling heart disease his entire life, occasionally seen as strong heart murmurs, but officially diagnosed about 6 months ago as an enlarged heart.
At the time, he coughed a lot. He coughed in that wheezy trying-to-release-a-hairball sort of way. Of course, this was highly unusual for a naked cat. After it didn’t go away on its own, we brought him in to the vet. An ultrasound confirmed his heart was not only oversized, but pushing on his lungs. There was a lot of fluid in the lungs as a result. Without intervention, his remaining time would be measured in weeks. They hooked us up with heart medicine (cat-sized doses of actual human heart medicine), with a guess of another year or two until reaching his expiration date. Things improved and he was mostly back to normal. Perhaps not as much of a race-around-the-house, cat-tree-climbing monkey as he was prior, just a slightly older version of himself.
A little over a week ago, he had an episode. He had been sick for a couple of days, probably from a kitty-cold that Norman brought in, and hadn’t been eating. We’d also had difficulty feeding him his pills. He yowled a couple of times, had difficulty breathing, and wouldn’t move from the spot where he planted himself on the floor. It was after-hours for our normal vet, so I took him to the animal hospital. They rushed him to an oxygen cabinet and took some x-rays. The outlook didn’t look too good. There was a lot of fluid in there. They were looking at the pre-existing condition compounded by pneumonia.
Miraculously, he was released the next morning with a reasonably clean bill of health. There was still fluid in there, but they were able to coax out a good amount with medication. He was happy, chirpy, and feeling better. More importantly, he was eating like a horse — a very good sign.
Our regular vet checked him out later that afternoon, since she was more familiar with his case history, and altered his meds to compensate for his weight loss, but thought he was recovering pretty well. The whole week, he was happy to eat food, drink water, and he was finally getting all his meds.
My hope was that he’d make it through Christmas. In fact, I’d assumed that would be the case. My real hope was that he would get through the chill of winter, to see another summer — every naked cat’s favorite time of the year.
This Saturday we had an even worse episode. Some howls of pain, retreating to the catbox to puke, and when he got out, he flopped over on the wood floor of the next room, rolling around but otherwise unable to stand or yowl. I rushed him back to the hospital. I talked to him the whole drive because the typical howls of cat-carrier-travel protest were more like whimpers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much they could do this time. A little after 2:30pm, I made the rough call to put him down. The oxygen wasn’t helping. He was pretty far gone and not really cognizant of his surroundings. I sat and talked to him through the whole thing, hoping some part of him could still hear me despite the otherwise lack of response.
The last couple of days have been pretty rough. There is most definitely an Ebenezer-shaped hole in my life. I started to make a list of the things I’ll miss, but it quickly spiraled out of control. Here is a brief snapshot:
His smell. It’s neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but it is present. You’d occasionally catch a whiff of it, either directly from him or from the blanket he’s been huddled in. He was a sweaty cat with a mild odor that I can best equate to the fur and sweat of horses on a sunny afternoon. It gets stronger over time, especially when he turns a blanket into a sweat-lodge, which is why I gave him a bath every week or two.
Leave the bathroom door open, and he’d join you in the tub when you’re showering. Leave it closed, and he’d be waiting when you leave so he can lick up water drops from the bottom of the tub.
The heat vents that double as a cat perch.
His love of people, love of being a ham, never shying away from attention. He knew he was the star of the show when strangers are around.
His favorite spot, when the sun porch is cold or inaccessible and there are no people around to perform in front or sit on top of of was this mangy igloo, despite the really nice one perched on a heat vent. I think he liked the warm hug that the furry insides provide:
Having to check every blanket before you sit down, to verify the lump you see isn’t him. And having to warn visitors of the same.
The little guy racing downstairs to meet me when I got home, like a puppy.
The constant open/close slamming of the cabinet door when it’s food time. I actually started missing this about a month ago, when I installed soft-close cabinet dampers. He kept on trying to slam the food cabinet’s door, but it no longer made noise.
The “kitty siren.” This is the only cat I know of who, when it comes time to puke, had an early warning system. He’d occasionally eat too much grass or slurp up a hair when drinking from the sink. If you heard that siren-like yowl, you had about 30 seconds to grab some paper towels and have them ready in front of him. He’d then puke twice (always twice) onto the paper.
His total and absolute indifference toward catnip, but his love of the smell of bleach and his rolling-around on freshly-bleached bathroom tile.
That expressive face, with no fur to mask that expression — you could instantly see confusion or distaste as it registered. Happiness was a little more elusive to visually spot, but you don’t need facial tics for that. A warm purr is sufficient.
The pointy way he sat. Based on photos of other cats, I think this may the whole Sphynx breed and not just specific to him. When he sat on a lap or chest, he’d be perched to sproing, with all of his weight on the pads of all four feet — not even sitting fully flat on the back feet. Physics and pounds-per-square-inch and such dictate that this gets extremely uncomfortable for the provider of the lap or chest. He would occasionally pancake out flat, but that was a rare occurrence.
Always wanting to touch somebody at night, with skin-to-skin contact. In winter, it’s nice to have a cat-shaped “hot water bottle.” In summer, it’s less pleasant to have a sweatmonster under the covers. Although sometimes the contact was of the pointy cut-off-circulation-to-your-arm variety, he always wanted human contact.
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We’ll close with a few of my favorite photos of the little dude…
…and a slideshow of him over time, starting when he first arrived home:
Feel free to look through the posts tagged “Ebenezer” for more detailed stories of his antics.