Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Indiana Jones and His Last Crusade

This is not a tale you will be familiar with. If you are drawn here this evening by a whip carrying, adventuring archaeologist, then you may be disappointed. Stay awhile though, listen to the tale of a girl and her kitten and you may be glad you did.

My childhood pet was, more often than not, a cat. As an adult, I continued tradition. When my husband and I first moved in together, we got a cat. After having our second child, our son, it became painfully clear the cat had little tolerance for the curiosity and mischievousness of a young boy. Sadly, Fidjet was given a new home with my father-in-law, where he lived to old age, never having his tail pulled, or cuddled against his will, or riding in the dolly stroller. He began his new life with my father-in-law in February. By April, I was in desperate need of a feline fix. After making many promises I never had any intention of keeping, my husband agreed to take the whole family to the local Humane Society to look at all the potential....err, nice animals.

When we arrived, we learned there had been a box of kittens on the door step awaiting the employees arrival. In the short time since discovering them, the employees had determined the kittens were barely old enough to have been weened. I asked if they were ready to go to a home. My husband scowled. The kids squealed. I was told it was unlikely they would be ready to go today, they needed to be thoroughly examined. My husband heaved a sigh of relief. I frowned. The children groaned. They asked if we planned to give the kitten we chose all of its shots and have it spayed or neutered. I said we did. My husband said we didn't because we had no intention of taking a cat. I pouted, batted my eyelashes, pleaded. The children watched, wide-eyed and hopeful. He broke down. Admittedly, I wasn't playing fairly. I had picked up a brown tabby female and she had nestled in the curve made by my neck and shoulder and began purring. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to leave without her and he knew it.

When it was obvious a decision had been reached, we were taking a kitten, one of the staff said there was one more kitten from the litter. He was in the back because he wasn't very friendly. Not unfriendly, but not friendly either. They couldn't let me go in all good conscience without seeing all of them. So they brought him out. A ball of black fur that fit in the other neck-shoulder curve perfectly. He began purring right away, and what a purr it was! My husband took one look at me and said "No! We are not taking two cats home, you can forget it!" The staff told him they would give us half of our money back when we brought in proof we had had the kittens fixed. I said "It's a discount! 2 for 1 sale! Please! Please! Please!......" The kids joined in "Please, Daddy! Please, Daddy!" The three of us are in the Humane Society, we have him surrounded, I have two purring kittens wrapped around my neck and we're jumpin' up and down chanting "Please!" Resistance is futile. To fight us was useless, our pitiful faces, our pouty pleading; you couldn't have denied us anything. The kittens were ours!

During the car ride home, we discussed names. Sitting in the front seat with a box with two kittens in it in my lap, I asked the children for suggestions. They wanted to call the female "Beautiful", because she had beautiful marks on her face. We decided beautiful was a little long, but settled on "Bella". When it was the males turn, my daughter suggested "Indiana Jones". At the time, she adored Indiana Jones (I pity the man who aims to be her husband), we were subject to watching the movies on a regular basis, so it came as no surprise that she immediately went in that direction. Everyone agreed that was definitely too long and maybe a little too much of a reputation for just a little kitty to live up to. "Well," she says, "we can call him Indy for short and I think it fits, 'cause he hasn't stopped trying to get out of that box. He's looking for adventure!" Now, you can't fault us for not arguing with logic as sound as that and so we named the male kitten, Indy.

As happens once in awhile, an animal that was intended to be a family pet ends up taking to one member of the family more than the any of the others. Such was the case. Our daughter and Indy quickly joined the ranks of Mutt and Jeff, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, inseparable. Hers was the first lap he would seek out (although he would never turn down a good petting). He would sleep with her, under the covers, until my husband and I turned in. At which time, Indy curled up between my husbands feet and there spent the remainder of the night (a good nights sleep has been few and far between for my hubby). They spent hours together, her petting, him purring. She was the only one he would play with and only her hair at that.

Felines are normally aloof. They usually have loads of personality, but are incredibly choosy about when and to whom they show it. Cats are usually solitary, content to lounge in an empty room, an out of reach shelf. This is not Indy. Indy has oodles of personality and doesn't mind showing it. He is aggressive in his search for lovin'. If my daughter is unavailable to satisfy his cuddle need, he is not above crawling into another family members lap or even a strangers. When he is hungry, he follows whoever he can, meowing. He insists he is an outdoor cat, despite the fact he has never been allowed to be. An open door is another opportunity to escape. Where does he go, you ask? Nowhere. He's never gone beyond the backyard. He eats grass, chases butterflies, tires quickly and comes back to the door that let him out in the first place, waiting to be readmitted. Oh! He was fat. He was the biggest cat I had ever seen. Garfield had nothing on our Indy! And he purrs. When he is happy, I mean, delightfully content, he sounds like a diesel engine. Except for the squeak. When he purrs, I'm not sure if it's when he inhales or exhales, he squeaks. If you have met him, you know him and know there aren't words to do him justice. He is just about as perfect as a feline can get.

About a month ago, he began to lose weight. I wasn't too concerned because we had recently added another kitten to the growing zoo and I thought his rambunctiousness was doing the Fat Cat some good. Then I noticed he wasn't eating much. My husband and I began discussing a trip to the vet. The very next day Indy was basking in a sunbeam and I noticed his skin had a decidedly unhealthy yellow tinge. On Tuesday we took him to the vet. The vet determined there was no infection because Indy was not running a fever. All signs pointed to a very sick liver. He spent the night in the vet's office and after a barrage of tests and an early morning ultrasound -which confirmed that his liver was indeed grossly enlarged), it was looking as if our worst fears were coming true. Our dearest Indy, the friendliest kitty (I once watched my toddling niece drag him and his substantial weight by his head across the floor and he did nothing), my daughter's friend was knocking on deaths door. Cancer of the liver seemed the likeliest culprit but a biopsy would be necessary and Indy wasn't strong enough to be anesthetized. If he survived the biopsy, there was very little hope what ailed him could be cured.

After a tearful conversation with our veterinarian, I called my husband to relay the news. I told myself it would be selfish to put the cat through the trauma of trying to make him well enough to have the biopsy when the chances were so small there was anything to be done for him other than diagnose him. My heart ached with love for our family pet and the devastation my little girl would know when she learned his fate. I resolved to have him put to sleep. Knowing this would also be my husbands suggestion, I was already prepared when I had finished telling him what the vet had said. Chances are slim, not looking good. Hubby had questions I had not asked and so called the vet. Then he called me back to tell me Indy was coming home. We were going to treat him in hopes of him gaining enough strength to undergo surgery. I was surprised because I am usually the one who clings to the smallest of hopes. I normally think with my heart rather than my head. Our roles have been reversed. And I love my husband all the more for it.

I don't know if one decision makes any more sense than the other. I know our cat is home and we are giving him medication and it seems to be helping. That could be wishful thinking. But you know what? My daughter has doted on him since his return from the vet. She has been near tears the whole time but she is stoic. His comfort and care are paramount. This morning she spent 10 minutes kneeling by the edge of the bed Indy was laying on with her forehead pressed to his. Both of them, their eyes closed. Him purring for all he was worth. It was painful and enchanting to watch.

Because there was never a feline like him before, because he is my daughters friend, because he's a part of our family, I hope he makes it through. If he doesn't, I am glad we have known him, because he's part of the family, he's my daughter's friend, because the mold broke when they made Indiana Jones, Feline.


  1. Oh... dear. Tough to type through tears
    You are all wonderful people and I pray for the best.
    Both you and Indy were blessed to meet and share the time.

  2. You are gonna kill me with this. My heart is aching right along with you ... all of you. You know Indy is in my prayers, as is your 'Sprite-let'.

    Hang tight and keep hope.


  3. Thank you. It's very kind of you both. It never ceases to surprise me how attached we become to our pets.

  4. I have my fingers crossed for Indy! I hope he gets better soon. I gave Fatty McFatass (her given name is actually Willow, but her nickname is just so much more truthful) an extra scritch on the head & 2 extra treats tonight - one for her and one for Indy.