So long, Butch. I’ll hold down the fort.

When I first met Butch, it was at a party hosted by Paul, the guy my friend Sarah was living with. She and her sister Penelope were entertaining the guests with their antics and by generally being cute. The next New Year’s Day, Sarah called and said, “I’m leaving Paul. Can I stay with you for a few days until Marsha can take me in?”

I told her of course she could. She showed up later that day with Orson, Butch, and Penelope in tow. A few days later, she and Orson moved in with Marsha, leaving Butch and Penelope with me. They were both about a year old at that time, and having two not-quite-kittens around was fun.

A week or so later, Sarah said Paul wanted one of the kittens, so Penelope left, because Sarah thought Penelope would be less likely to get into serious trouble there (Butch had a lot more … personality). A couple years later, when Butch sneaked into the dryer after I’d finished my last load and got trapped, I figured Sarah had been correct.

She used to sleep with me. We’d go to bed, and she’d wrap her hind legs around my upper arm and knead my neck for a while. She’s the only cat I’ve known that snored. After a few years, she started putting on a lot of weight, and I acquired Kiki to be a playmate for her. That didn’t work out, and I had to banish both cats from my bedroom at night.

There was never enough lap time for her, and she’d let you know if she thought you weren’t petting her properly. She was a very loud cat until recently, and was a shedding engine from the day I got her. I remember telling Sarah about a week after she left Butch with me, “I had no idea that I had such a cat hair deficiency in my life!” She loved to spend time in the garden, even though I didn’t let her out much or without supervision, since she was declawed before I got her. If I didn’t supervise her closely enough, she’d start exploring the neighborhood.

A couple of years ago, she started losing a lot of weight and her fur got ugly. The doctor prescribed thyroid medication, which stabilized her weight around 9 pounds (down from a 15-pound peak). The medicine helped a lot, bringing back her appetite, letting her put a little weight back on, getting her fur back in shape, and making her healthier overall.

It’s no longer enough, though. Her appetite’s been lessening for a few weeks, and now she’s pretty much stopped eating. She can still get onto her favorite furniture, but she’s not steady on her feet, and sometimes has to try twice or more to jump onto a lap. Last night, she stopped to lie down three times going from her chair in the living room to the food dishes in the kitchen. This morning, for the first time in years, she wasn’t outside my bedroom door to let me know that she was ready for breakfast. She was already in the kitchen, lying down on a rug near the food bowls. She did eat a little, but threw it up almost immediately.

At 9:00 this morning, we went into the vet’s office. Once we were in the examining room, I kept Butch on my lap and petted her until the vet asked for her weight. She was 6 pounds. She lay down on the counter and I continued to pet her until the end. The vet came back shortly with two hypodermics. We put her on a towel and he gave her a muscle relaxant. Less than a minute later, she looked almost as though she were asleep, but her eyes were still partly open. Her breathing was so slow and shallow that I thought she might not even need the second shot. Shortly thereafter, I said “Goodbye, Butch” as he gave her the euthanasia injection. Her breathing stopped almost immediately.

At 9:35, I left with a cat carrier full of about 17 years of memories.

UPDATE: I almost forgot – I wrote a poem for her several years ago.

Partners in Crime
An Ode to US Patent #5443036

A mighty huntress is my Butch, a cat both fast and agile.
I try to keep her occupied, and far from all things fragile.
She is a wild barbarian cat – can’t find a toy? She’ll make one.
If laundry isn’t put away, she’ll find the socks and take one.
But better far than sock of mine is spot of red from laser.
Although she never catches it, it doesn’t seem to faze her.
She’ll chase it ‘cross the floors and walls, and track it on the ceiling.
She chatters when it goes too high, her frustrations revealing.
We have fun; I think it helps to keep her lithe, not fattened.
Although, it seems that we’ve been violating someone’s patent.
Must I pay a license fee, else suffer time in jail?
I don’t think that appeals to me, and Butch won’t go my bail.
The patent office may proclaim they’re only following rules,
But when they granted this one, I think that they were fools.

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