In Memory of Chipper
September 28, 2008
Chipper died yesterday, September 27. He was 10 years old. We had adopted him at eight weeks old from the Humane Society shortly after he got there. Chipper was a beautiful short-haired tuxedo cat. In fact, I was sitting in the waiting area of the Humane Society to get the paperwork taken care of, and another family walked out asking to take the tuxedo cat, but it turned out he was already spoken for, by me.
Chipper fit well into the household that had two other cats, Chessie and Emmie. Chipper was a sturdy cat with legs a bit short and body a bit stocky. He had a problem with throwing up, but cats do throw up, so we dealt with it. He was an inside-only cat as was Chessie. Emmie had been an in-and-out cat most of her life, but the last few years she would go out, sit on the porch for a while, then come back in.
Chipper liked to boss the other cats, who generally let him. Chipper was afraid of humans. We never found out if he had been mistreated before he came to the shelter or if it were just part of his personality. We got him at the youngest age possible for cat adoption at the Human Society. Ordinarily, if a car came down the driveway, and Chipper decided that it was not one of his human parents, then Chipper vanished until the humans in the car left. When neighbors came in to feed the cats while we were away, they would usually tell us that they had a glimpse of Chipper on the first day, but after that they did not see him.
Chipper was a good mouse-catcher. He brought his catch upstairs to the hallway usually. He learned that when he caught a mouse that he would get a kitty treat. So he caught mice when he could, and sometimes bugs, and sometimes cat toys. He liked to walk down the hallway with his catch in his mouth and make victory sounds. This frequently happened at night, to the unpleasant surprise of human guests. Sometimes at night he made yowling sounds as if he were lonesome and wondering where his humans were. I would call out to him, and he would come trotting happily back to the bedroom.
Being such a timid cat, he took refuge in the cardboard boxes that we put in some of the rooms. He was convinced that he was invisible in the boxes, and we took care to not invade his safe zones.
One of my fondest memories of Chipper is that every day I would carefully pick him up from his resting place between the foyer and kitchen, and carry him over to look out the front door. He preferred not to be picked up, but he developed enough trust in me that he let me hold him for a short while. I tried to teach him to trust at least one human. After a while he would come to me when I called and coaxed.
He liked his treats. When I called “treat time!” in the evenings, he was usually the first there. He wanted to be Alpha cat very much. And he succeeded with Sammy, but Chessie, who died a while back, never cared much about the Alpha position, and Chewie, who was five at the time of the time of Chipper’s death, was a natural Alpha.
Chipper had his routines. If we sat on one end of the sofa, Chipper came over and wanted to be patted. We called it winding him up, since after he got patted he would find and terrorize Sammy. During meals, Chipper would hop up on his hind feet and meow. We’d just see his head pop up, then down again. After dinner he would cuddle up beside me. At bed time he hopped up on the bed and bumped me gently with his head, then settled down beside me for a while before leaving for his own sleeping place. In the last few months he climbed into my lap when I was in a chair. He also liked to walk in front of me on the computer desk.
About two years ago he had an usually bad spell of vomiting which included blood in the throw up. We took him to the veterinarian who ran extensive tests and diagnosed sensitive stomach. He got sick when we had planned a trip to Williamsburg, so we arranged with the Veterinarian to board Chipper there while the tests were run and to try to calm his stomach down. Our touring Williamsburg was curtailed since we made many calls back home to find out how Chipper was doing. As it turned out, nothing abnormal was found. I felt badly when the Veterinarian said that Chipper was huddled in the back of the cage and refused to eat or drink. This would be typical of his timid personality. We started feeding him sensitive stomach food that we bought from the veterinarian. When I gave the cats fresh catnip, I cut his portion down to one tiny leaf, since he liked catnip so much. The veterinarian gave us pills to give him when the vomiting got bad again.
From that time Chipper had a few bad spells, but the pills calmed the stomach down and we did not worry very much. A week ago, a spell started again, so we gave him the medicine and hoped that he would be better by the time we left for a short trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Wednesday. He did seem to be better, but we shut all three cats in the basement so that in case of a recurrence our neighbors, who were watching the cats for us, would not have to try to clean the carpets upstairs.
Our trip went well. I had left our cell phone number with the neighbors and also told them to call my sister for immediate help if Chipper got sick. We got home and were greeted happily by the other two cats, but not Chipper. This was standard behavior for Chipper, who usually would come out after a few minutes. An hour later, after I had unpacked, I became concerned, so I went downstairs and looked around, and found Chipper. It appeared that he had died some time that morning. The neighbors said that Chipper had not thrown up until the day before we came home, and he had thrown up before he died. We don’t know why he died, but it must have been related to the vomiting problem. I believe his heart must have given out from the strain. My husband placed him in a box and buried him in the back yard along the fence. Rest In Peace my little friend. I miss you terribly.
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