Coolidge lived a life of protected luxury and taxing health challenges for the 17 years we were blessed to enjoy his company and inspiration. He inspired my two volumes of poetry, Glamorgan’s Tales and Glamorgan: He Who Would Be Cat. He was the inspiration behind my first blog, Mrs. B and the Cat, that I started in 2006; it morphed in 2007 to Oikos mou, and finally this blog in 2010, when we moved from Puget Sound to the Palouse. Coolidge was on board through the entire journey, until his passing four weeks ago, on August 13, 2015, at 3:45 in the morning, in my arms, from advanced renal failure.
Coolidge was diabetic for the past nine years. Every day of those years, at 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM, I tested his glucose and gave him an appropriate dose of insulin. He developed hyperthyroid, a very sinister condition for cats, in his seventh diabetic year. I put methimazole cream in his ear twice a day.
When he first became diabetic in 2006, he developed hepatic lipidosis and needed a feeding tube for nine weeks. He yanked it out so many times we quit taking him to the vet’s ER. My husband simply stitched the tube back in place when Coo pulled it out. After all, our cat could not know the tube was where his belly snacks came from. I cooked chicken breasts, pulverized them in a food grinder, and syringed the food into the feeding tube six times a day. Coolidge wore a body sock, supposedly to secure the tube. We called him Coodini, for his way of slipping off the sock so cleverly over his head.
Y2K wasn’t Coolidge’s best year, either. He was two, and he somehow broke his hock on a routine indoor prowling mission. A veterinary orthopedist operated and put his foot in a cast for 10 weeks. He had to remain in a kennel cage in the house to keep from running, jumping, or using the stairs. I put an advent calendar up on his cage so I could better stand my poor cat’s captivity. It wasn’t much help.
Coolidge was born into a feral pride behind a travel agency on Vashon Island, Washington. Once rescued, Coolidge was always an indoor cat. I had promised his rescuers, the Vashon Island Pet Protectors heroines, that we would not subject him to the hazards of the outdoors, and we kept our word. He had lungworm and a hernia from a raccoon gash when he was rescued at four weeks. He was the sort of kitten I could dedicate my life to keeping safe.
He wasn’t always cooperative. But a ripe age and natural causes, as horrible as renal failure is, presented God’s challenging assignments in a gracious light, and we were given the motivation to take up each new challenge.
Coolidge was a trooper and an unforgettable companion. He’s a hard act to follow. But little spritely Effie is taking up Coolidge’s charge as her peoples’ champion. I adore her to pieces. She’s no replacement–she’s the Cat of the House. God’s mercy astounds me.