He’s a fussy, picky eater. When the delicious gooshy bits come out morning and evening, 8AM and 8PM, he wants it, cued by his big, eager eyes watching as soon as he hears the lid of the can open. He’ll run up to his food bowl, ready to eat.
But it’s just the gravy.
Rocky will carefully lick around every little chunk of his wet food, much like a toddler picking the peas out of their pot pie. When he walks away, we have a bowl of bits, drying out with the lack of their wetness.
He is a huge fan of the tube-shaped gravy treats – naturally – and it has been the winning strategy to get him to take his necessary medication, which comes in powder form. With a bit of water warmed in the electric kettle, Rocky will lap all of it up.
Rocky does not know that his kidneys are broken. Rocky wants the gravy from wet food and the tube-shaped treats.
Rocky is a quintessential Tabby’s Place cat; he is considered a hospice cat. He was likely just a few days from euthanasia when Tabby’s Place stepped in to take him, and after that – I volunteered to foster him, knowing he would not live a long life.
He is beautiful; he is long and lanky, with gangly toes, a soft coat of gray stripes, and a petite face highlighted by the eyes of an owl.
If it weren’t for Tabby’s Place, he would not be alive today.
He got his checkup on August 7th; his kidney values are still not great but they’re stable, which is the best we could hope for. And he has outlived his anticipated lifespan.
It is not without effort: I give Rocky subcutaneous fluids three times per week, and twice a day, the powdered medication to support his weak, malformed kidneys. Aside from those few minutes that he gets his fluids, he is unaware.
Rocky does not know he is broken. And so he runs.
And he brings toys up to my bedroom. I’ll walk upstairs and step on a little red mouse with rattling beads inside it, or a plastic spring.
Oh, how he loves the plastic springs, red and green and blue and yellow springs.
If he sees me pick one up, give it a squeeze for a little sound of plastic grinding, his ears perk up and those owlish pupils get wider. His whiskers, black at the root and white at the tip, move forward. His Capuchin monkey tail twitches. I see the wiggle in his shoulders as he readies himself and lowers his chin toward the floor.
I throw the spring.
Rocky sprints off like a horse on a racetrack, determined to win, despite having no competitors. The hallway rug is ruffled up from his race as his knobby toes sprint across it. He skids to a stop and looks back at me.
He is determined to win. Determined to live. There is a beauty in that determination – the enjoyment of chasing a little plastic spring, the way he watches closely as I sweep all of the lost toys out from beneath the dressers and appliances. I had to make a special tool to retrieve them – felt glued to a dowel – because he is an expert at losing his toys.
He watches closely. He continues being determined to live. I see it in the way he chirps his little high-pitch meow at me to ask for a treat. The way he jumps up on the bed in the morning to make biscuits or lay down beside me. The way he ensures I am never on the toilet without his company as he lays at my feet. The way that he hops into the bath tub so I can briefly turn the faucet on and off and he can catch the drips.
Rocky is booming with the explosive beauty and enjoyment of life. He wasn’t supposed to get this far.
He has, though; it is because of Tabby’s Place and their donors. Crucial fundraisers, such as the current Linda Fund Matching Challenge, make Rocky’s explosive zest for life possible. It has made it possible for him to run and chase his springs, to lap up the delicious snack tubes, to give me slow blinks with those gigantic owl eyes as he makes biscuits beside me as I wake up. Without those donations, he would not be alive today.
It is the donors and volunteers and staff who made that possible – and I can only stumble through expressing my gratitude, but Rocky explodes with it with his happy, exuberant joy, his gentle touch, his love of little plastic springs. And he and I are both very grateful.