Home > General Chatter > The Story of Baby (le chat domestique)

The Story of Baby (le chat domestique)

Back in the early summer of 1999, I decided that my first cat – Carolyn – was lonely and needed a friend. I think I came to this conclusion when I saw a sign near my apartment complex advertising a free cat to a good home. I called the number, got the address, and went on over. The cat in question was your normal short-haired domesticated cat. I remember the husband mentioning that “he loves attention”. The cat had been raised with a bunch of other animals – mostly dogs – and wandered in and out of the house, though I think he spent more time outside. I inquired about the cat’s name, and strangely [I thought] it didn’t have one. I asked why the couple was giving away the cat, and the wife mentioned that she was pregnant and wanted to rid the home of most of their animals [they had a few].  Fair enough. As I was young and naive, I immediately took the cat home, thus making Carolyn angry and hateful. I think the cat spent that first night huddled in a corner. Poor thing. Carolyn warmed up to the new housemate the next morning, although their friendship was at best tenous. I spent the next few days thinking of a name. I couldn’t think of a clever name [someone else named Carolyn] and settled on “Baby”, due to his friendly and loving nature, despite Emily’s disapproval [about a year or two later, it dawned on me that I should have named him “Kung Pao”].


Baby was not like Carolyn. Where Carolyn  mostly minded to herself, Baby enjoyed nothing more than getting into my things and destroying. I would come home to trash strewn about the house, shoe laces chewed off, things knocked over, etc. Not to mention that I could no longer leave my dinner alone, lest it be stolen by one naughty cat. It drove me insane. I had to essentially come up with a whole new way of living in my apartment so that my valuables were not destroyed and food not eaten. Habits that I still practice to this day – much to Emily’s annoyance since much of it is no longer necessary. If all that wasn’t annoying enough for me, Baby brought fleas into my home. I wasn’t making much money then [and I had a ton of debt], and it was not cheap to get two cats defleaed, dewormed, and one apartment carpet bombed. It took many, many years for me to finally stop being paranoid about fleas. And to top it all off, Carolyn – the reason I got another cat in the first place – didn’t even like the new cat. She preferred being alone. The two cats simply tolerated each other. I didn’t dislike Baby, but he wasn’t my favorite. It seemed he always found a way to annoy or frustrate me and so I wasn’t always nice to him.


I mentioned this in my previous post about Baby, but he took a great liking to Emily [probably because she didn’t throw things at him] and was a very well-behaved cat when she was around. [I always noted how sad Baby seemed after Emily went home after spending the weekend]. And as Baby got older, he mellowed quiet a bit. He would still occasionally steal food [like the time he helped himself to the cheese dip during a poker party I was hosting], but he more or less behaved himself [except when wanted in a room but the door was closed. He would proceed to tear the carpet by the door], and enjoyed nothing more than napping in the sun, getting a good belly rub, or chasing after a treat tossed into the next room. And everyone loved, loved Baby. He was always rubbing the legs and feet of our guests and purring happily. It was, for Baby, as if every person coming through our front door was another person to love.


And like all domesticated animals, Baby had his own personality. Whereas Carolyn is loud and bullying, you never heard a peep from Baby. When he did let out the occasional “meow”, it was treated like a Bigfoot sighting, and you often wondered if everything was okay.  And unlike Carolyn who is clingy, Baby kept to himself. As long as there was food, water, and a clean litter box, he was generally fine. Whereas Carolyn enjoys sleeping with us, Baby usually slept in another room – except for cold winter nights, when he would curl up on your feet [purring, of course]. You know, I could spend a long time telling stories about Baby: His different strategies to waking me in the morning so he could get fed [the most effective was sitting on my face], to his insatiable desire for water from the faucet of our tub. It took me a long time to realize, but Baby was a great cat.


Over the past year, it felt like I spent less and less time with the cats – for obvious reasons – and it was sad in a way for they had been replaced. We have a more important living thing for which to care. And you know, I regret not giving some extra time to the cats. My dad once said that pets give a home personality, and our two cats certainly did that to our house.


If you’ve read this far, you probably figured out why I wrote all this. Diabetes was the least of Baby’s concern. Around the same time he was diagnosed with diabetes, the vet also discovered enlarged lungs, then an enlarged heart. The inital diagnosis was cancer, but then it was downgraged – if you call it that – to congestive heart failure. He was put on a couple of medications, and he seemingly recovered, acting like his old self and even catching two field mice in two days [I had the pleasure of cleaning up mice entrails from the garage one day and trying to remove a half-dead mouse from Baby’s jaws the next]. Then, over the course of a few days, Baby got worse again. Until Monday, when Emily came home to find Baby in the kitchen struggling to breathe. She rushed to the vet and called me home from work. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.


I just keep thinking that we should have gotten a second opinion. The vet never gave us much hope, but maybe there was some way to cure him, you know? I just wanted to take Baby and drive him to another vet and ask them to fix him. The cat got better. Why can’t he get better again? It all seemed so rushed and sudden. When we first thought Baby had cancer, I wanted to give him a can of tuna to eat. Just finally, you know. Here. TUNA. You don’t have to try and steal it from my sandwich anymore. But with everything happening so quickly, I never got that chance.


By the way, Emily wrote a great entry about Baby in the June 16th entry of her blog.

Categories: General Chatter
  1. July 9, 2008 at 2:58 am

    I am sorry to hear about Baby. The decisions we make for our pets are, perhaps, the tipping of the scales for the happiness they bring us. But I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s all worth it.

    The League of Melbotis will observe a moment of silence in Baby’s honor.

  2. Steanso
    July 9, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Sorry to hear about your loss. I had a pet ferret named Hobbes who died of congestive heart failure. The vet spent a lot of time working on him and trying to make him better, but in the end they couldn’t do much for him, and even though they gave me meds for him and told me I could take him home (they said he might live for a few more months), he was crying in pain, and ultimately I had to have him put to sleep (a decision that the vet ultimately agreed with since he couldn’t reassure me that Hobbes wouldn’t be living out the rest of his life in pain). With animals, who don’t fear death, I think sometimes the best you can do is make sure they have a good life and minimize their suffering at the end.
    Anyway, I’m sorry for your loss. Don’t spend a lot of time second guessing yourself, though. It sounds like Baby had a good life.

  3. Reed
    July 9, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your cat. Sounds like both of your cats hit the lottery when they got you as an owner. Pets do become a part of our family. I agree with your dad, pets do give homes personality.

  4. July 14, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about Baby. I loved him so much, and I know it’s got to be tough for you and Emily to let him go. He was such a little lover boy, always stretching out across the laps of visitors and purring and rubbing up against your legs. He was so happy with you guys. Wish I could be there to give you all a big hug.

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