He was so tiny, I carried him about in my bathrobe pocket. Elsie soon settled down to tolerate him. He was amazing, playful,curious, cuddly, and very good at outsmarting Elsie, who was never the sharpest knife in the drawer anyway.
When be was a few years old, we let him outside. We lived on a quiet street in a friendly neighborhood and he so wanted to be outdoors.
Elmer liked to climb the trees in the backyard, visit the neighbors, and sleep next the little pond and waterfall in the backyard. There was so much to explore and conquer. He knew his world and he loved it. Then, a couple of years later, came THE MOVE!
When we had to move to another city, Elmer was more than traumatized. His whole existence was our little house on G Street. It never occurred to him that this wasn't the entire world. It would be like someone picking you up and placing you on another planet. For three days, would not come out of his carrier. Elsie on the other hand had moved around a lot with me and she was an old hand. She sniffed around a while, then curled up on the couch for a well-deserved nap.
When Elmer finally came out of his carrier, he hid behind the couch for another few days. I guess he came out at night because his food had been eaten and his litter box had been used. But, no amount of coaxing would convince him that life was okay. Elsie loved it of course, her nemesis was out of the way.
When he finally deemed it safe enough, he became king of the world. He took great pleasure in tormenting Elsie by hiding until she walked by, then jumping on her and running away, tail high and, I'm sure, giggling all the way.
He didn't go outside anymore, this was strange territory. He wouldn't venture outside unless it was with me or with my hubby, Allen. Then he was very brave and hissed at all the neighbor cats. Without us, he was a big coward and would run back inside.
All in all, we were a happy family. Then, after a few years, my stepfather died and we had to move again, to take care of my mother. This time, though, Elsie was too old and too frail to make the move. We called a vet who made house calls to put her down in the gentlest way possible. I think Elmer missed her for a while. No one to tease.
Elmer took to this move rather well. He was seasoned now and it didn't frighten him. Plus he was an only cat. What paradise. A big house to roam around in, lots of humans to dote on him. Until, that is, my mother and I visited PetSmart and adopted another kitten. Oh, the horrors! Elmer was in a snit for a while but took a backseat to Ellie, the new ruler of the house. Ellie was a very special cat, smart, beautiful, and the belle of the ball.She and Elmer became friends, sort of.
Ellie had no sense of direction. Although she was an indoor cat, she would escape once in a while. On one of these times, she was gone for three days when mother insisted that we go and adopt another cat. This time we went to the shelter and adopted a sweet, grey kitten with bright green eyes. We named her Gabby. Elmer was again in a snit. Another interloper. And, wouldn't you know it, Ellie was found the next day and returned home. Oh No! Two more cats for Elmer to deal with. Being a gentleman, he backed off and let the ladies rule. Gabby and Ellie became great friends, but Gabby was the empress.
One day, a friend brought over another kitten—and that made four cats in the house—adorable, black with white whiskers. Smart, cute, funny, loving. He adopted Ellie as his mother. She, being the delicate, and beautiful lady she was, accepted him. They would sleep together, and she would groom him like a mother would her kitten. Elmer and Gabby just scowled.
Little Felix didn't have much time on this earth, he fell from atop a tall bookcase and injured his back. His injury left his back legs paralyzed. He could not walk, nor would he ever get better. It was very hard to hand him over to the vet to be put down. It's still hard to think on it.
Poor Ellie also had a short life. It turns out that she had a congenital disease that didn't show up until she was about two years old. We medicated her for about a year, and spent thousands of dollars on her care but she died anyway.
Without her friend, Ellie, Gabby became a problem. She turned mean toward Elmer and she started urinating on the carpet and furniture. She was jealous of any attention we gave to Elmer, and she terrorized him. No, we didn't put her down, we found a loving home for her where she was an only cat. That's what she needed. I understand that she and her new caretaker were a match made in heaven.
Elmer was delighted. He was again an only kitty. Life was good. That is, until we found Pumpkin. Oh woe is Elmer. Another cat. Eventually, they grew to tolerate each other. Pumpkin gave up trying to be friends and just ignored him. He hissed once in a while, just to let his opinion be known, but there was no fighting or nastiness.
This truce lasted for the three years that we had our beautiful, fat, Pumpkin, then my mother died. The stress and chaos in the house brought out a heart condition that we didn't know she had and she was gone within a few days of my noticing that she was panting and not moving around much.
And that leaves Elmer. Old, crotchety, Elmer. He too has a condition. He has hyperthyroidism. This is a common condition for black and white cats. No matter how much he eats, he doesn't maintain weight. He is hyper and kinetic because his metabolism is running at top speed. He is skinny as a rail, his tail is full of arthritis, and he has a cyst on his neck. But, he is happier than I've seen him in a very long time. He loves to be outside now. I believe that because he has so little time left anyway, let him roam, climb, sniff the flowers, dig holes, chase bugs, climb trees, and poop in the garden. He loves to poop in the garden.
Elmer has outlasted all the cats who have come and gone in his lifetime. He is the old man, triumphant, eating six times a day, but enjoying the last of his time on this planet. I know that time is coming soon when he will no longer be with me and I am not looking forward to letting him go, but at least, he will have really enjoyed his senior years.
I am hoping that he gets to die in his sleep, happy and at home. This would be a blessing to us both. Too many times, I've had to have a vet euthanize my lovely cats. Maybe the gods will be kinder to my Elmer.
I think that when he leaves us I won't have any animals for a while. This will be a first. I've shared my life with cats since I was a child. There's always been a cat to sleep at the foot of my bed and to bring joy and amusement to the household. But, it's time, I think, to let that go for a while. I need to heal from all the death around me and do other things.
Thanks for reading my ramblings.