I know I need to write this post, but I’ve been having a hard time starting, then finding the words to finish.
Over the weekend we said goodbye to Oliver. For the last few years we’ve affectionately called him the “grumpy old man.” He’d developed kidney disease a few years back, and could be a bit of a grumpus at times, mostly protesting Guapo’s insistence that they always sleep in the same bed, or his constant pestering of Oliver to play with him. As much as Oliver complained, though, he absolutely adored Guapo.
Oliver was a stray who showed up on my parents doorstep about nine years ago. He was a long-haired orange kitty with striking green eyes. I stopped to pet him in my way in the house, and told him that I wanted to steal him and take him home with me. I went in, and my stepfather asked me from the bathroom, “do you want a kitty?” I excitedly asked if it was the one on the front porch, and he said yes. Oliver had been hanging around for a few weeks, asking for food, love, etc. and it was clear that if he had a home, he wasn’t interested in going there. He wanted to be somewhere else.
So my stepfather fashioned a little kitty cave on the porch out of blankets and I started feeding Oliver, just until we could take him home. My mom protested me giving him food because he wouldn’t go away if we fed him. I told her that was the point. Eventually my college-living situation was sorted out enough that my then boyfriend took Oliver for 9 months until I got an apartment of my own that allowed pets, and Oliver came to live with me.
What we quickly found out was the reason Oliver was a stray. Though loving and handsome, he had a tendency to pee, specifically on carpet. Not really a desirable trait in an animal, but I loved him anyway. He moved from my boyfriend’s house into my apartment, then to our house when my husband and I bought it. He ruined the floors everywhere.
Oliver also howled. Make no mistake – this was not a meow. This was a howl. He would sit with his neck extended and make that circular motion with his lower jaw and this sound that was something like a baby crying would come out. When my husband and I lived in our apartment, we got a noise complaint from his howling. An official letter from animal control that said “your animal” but “animal” was crossed out and “cat” was written in it’s place, is making too much noise. We laughed. A cat, with a noise complaint. Hilarious. And then we moved.
Oliver continued howling, continued peeing on the floor, and if you happened to be sleeping and he wanted love, he’d wait patiently, staring at you, until you opened your eyes. Then he would start meowing. And he would meow until you paid attention to him.
Oliver loved being brushed, and he’d let you do it for hours. He loved it when you made a little circle with your thumb and forefinger that he would push his head through. He was also a drooler, and would get giant drool gobs on his mouth when he was happy, then he’d shake his head. He was a loving cat, who would let me spoon him at night to sleep, and use him as a pillow. When he was healthy, he weighed about 15lbs and was probably near 3ft long all stretched out. In the nine years I had him, I only heard him hiss twice.
He finally stopped howling when we got Guapo. He’d fuss when Guapo wanted to share a bed with him, but he’d always give in. The worst nights of complaining were when they were separated. Despite the cranking about it, Oliver just adored Guapo’s love, and as soon as Guapo died, his howling started back again, and his health started to go downhill.
His kidney disease got worse, and he was just sad. We planned on getting him two new kittens but he didn’t make it that far. I honestly think that Guapo extended his life by a few years, and I hope they' are together in the kitty ever-after, cuddling and protesting, biting and licking, and being happy loving kitties together.
When Oliver passed on Saturday it was peaceful. I had seen it coming for a while, and apparently told him not to die while we were gone as we left for England in June (I only partially remember this, but I think Kevin’s right, I did say it). He was sick, and I knew it. For a few days before he died, I was surprised to see him when I woke up in the morning. He could barely move, and he’d given up on life. He was ready to move on, though I wasn’t ready to let him. I said goodbye to him many times a day, told him I loved him, and how glad I was that he had found my doorstep nine years ago.
I’ve made a big print of the photo at the top of this post, and I’ll keep it in my studio with my big Guapo picture. That was Oliver’s “I want attention” face. I loved it. I still do. He was the best naughty kitty I’ve ever had.
I love you, Oliver. And miss you. I know you’re in a better place, and I hope it includes the restoration of your healthy cat body, and the companionship of your kitten, Guapo.