As you might have noticed, we have been conspicuously absent from the blogosphere since our last post about Rusty. That is because, even though he did everything we asked him to do—two surgeries, physical therapy, new feeding regimes, medication—he didn’t make it. It may seem strange to some folks, but we have had and continue to have a very difficult time getting beyond that.
If you are animal people, you know that you might, someday, have one non-human family member who is that special creature you’ll never see the likes of again. And that was Rusty.
He had this little felt mouse that was much more than a mouthful. When Rusty wanted to play, he would carry that thing down the hallways, yowling through the felt until Scott or I would chase him down the stairs. (He trained us well.) There he would drop the toy and wait for us to toss it. At that point, Rusty would pounce into action, snag the mouse with his front claws and dig away at it with his back ones. Then he’d jump up and wait for the next toss and attack.
Other times it was the “stairs game.” As one of us would head for the basement, Rusty would dive onto his side and plunge his head between two newel posts. Our expected response was to vigorously rub his head while he feigned ferocity by play-attacking our hand.
Each day when it was time for me to come home from work, Scott reported that Rusty (and the other cats) waited at the top of the stairs for me to arrive. When he heard the car pull into the driveway, he knew it was my car. How is it that cats can tell time and recognize a particular car’s sound?
On cold winter evenings, I wear a hot pink, velour robe, shaped much like a potato sack with a zipper in the front and with openings for my feet, hands and head. This construction keeps all of my body heat contained within the robe. We called it a “spud” and Rusty considered it his personal winter hot house…but only when I ensconced inside it. Wherever I was sitting, if I was wearing the spud, Rusty would climb on my lap, paw at the zipper until it opened, and then crawl inside, snuggling into the warmest spot, usually with his nose against my neck. We were both toasty warm, except for that little cool spot where his nose touched me.
He was a good sleeper. If a patch of sun appeared anywhere on the floor, that’s where you could find him. I’m sure I could compile a large tome of photos showing him sleeping in various places in the sun. He luxuriated in the light and the warmth.
Rusty had an amazing tail. It was the signal of his emotional state. Whenever he was excited, for whatever reason, his tail puffed up into that condition cats usually exhibit in fear or anger. In Rusty, it was just excitement—for the chase, the bug on the rug, the bird at the window, the food, the game, life…
We had Rusty for eighteen years. Every single night he slept in the crook of my left elbow. When it was time to get up in the morning, he stood over me and stared at my eyes until they opened. If I was a little slow in noticing, he gently placed his right foot on my cheek to let me know he was waiting. His face was the one I woke up to each day for all of those years, even before I saw Scott’s face. Now, every morning, there is an empty space on my left—instead of my Rusty boy.
|Rusty almost 10 years after he joined the family|
|Rusty sitting on the counter top in our old kitchen|
|Rusty and the pink robe|
|Rusty and family waiting at the top of the stairs for Mary to come home.|
|Rusty sitting on top of Sten in one of the many cat beds|
|Rusty and Missy looking out the yurt window|
|Mr. Blue Eyes|
|Rusty sleeping in the yurt|
|Rusty standing by one of our favorite books, Puss 'n' Boots|
|Rusty sleeping in the sun|
|Rusty sleeping on the sleeping bag|
|Rusty in his cuddle cup one week before he died|