In August, 1991, I was a graduate art student in Texas. I’d recently acquired a tortoiseshell kitten from a little girl sitting in front of the local Kroger, a cute little turbocharged thing I named Persephone. I got her in the break between classes, and when I went back to class, she was lonely. I didn’t really want another cat, but decided she needed a friend.
One day that August, I went to the same Kroger and there was a young couple who were giving away small black kittens. One of the kittens appeared to be very afraid of the man, but liked me. I took him home, holding him on my lap as I shifted gears. He only complained once, a long, loud meow, and once he’d told me that this sucked he subsided. “You can be Persephone’s cat,” I told him. I named him Adonis, after the myth where Aphrodite hides Adonis in the Underworld and Persephone falls in love with him and doesn’t want to give him back.
Persephone took one look at him and started growling and hissing, as if to say, “You brought me a snack! How considerate, Meowmie!”
For about three weeks, there was much hissing and spitting and Adonis hiding under the couch. He would sneak out and sit on my lap while I read or watched TV, then hide again when I left to go to class. It ended after I came home one day and found Persephone holding a terrified Adonis in a headlock, washing him.
Somehow, much to my surprise, he managed to impregnate Persephone when she was six months old and he was three months old. I promptly took him to be neutered. He came home stoned, and meowed to be let out of the carrier. He wanted to sit on my lap. I kept three of the kittens, because I couldn’t find homes for them, and Adonis was a good foster mother to them.
Adonis was my special baby. He grew to live up to his name, Adonis the beautiful. He was my probably-not-very-secret favorite, and the feeling was very mutual. He was very jealous of my ex-boyfriend, and used to drop heavy objects from above onto his head. For some reason, my ex-boyfriend didn’t find this endearing. 😉 I lost the boyfriend and kept Adonis.
Adonis lived with me for almost 13 years. I took him on two cross-country moves. He was the one who told me I have sleep apnea; he’d go and ask my roommate for help. I had undiagnosed sleep apnea for a long time despite Adonis’ insistence that I had a problem. The conversation often went like this:
Me: I think I have sleep apnea.
Doctor: [derisive laugh] What makes you think that?
Me: My cat does the Come Quick Timmy dance to lead my roommate into my room, where my roommate finds me gasping for air or not breathing.
Doctor: [rolling eyes] You don’t have sleep apnea. You’re not an overweight middle-aged man. If you’re really worried, go on a diet and get rid of your cats. You’re probably allergic.
And the horse you rode in on, Doc. I really believe I’d be dead if I’d followed his advice. I got new doctors. I kept the cats.
So Adonis was practically a service animal for many of the years he lived with me, poor baby. He considered this to be his main job. If my roommate was out, Persephone would bite me on the face to wake me up, which Adonis apparently couldn’t bear to do. When I finally got the CPAP, he and Persephone were thrilled. Persephone used to kiss it goodnight for awhile, and Adonis would still sleep by my head every night, just in case it didn’t work, so he could go get help.
Adonis actually liked Brian, even though he was male. Horrors! And my boyfriend! Even worse. Even before they made friends, he would poke his head into Brian’s room (sleep apnea, remember?) and check on him several times during the day, just to make sure he was all right. It was part of his job as King Kitty to make sure everything in the house was running smoothly.
Sunday night around 2, I realized he was dehydrated, disoriented, and staggering, and for the first time in his life he didn’t want me to pet him. I tried to get him to drink. He took a few half-hearted licks to humor me.
This was bad.
We took him to the 24 hour emergency vet, who thought his abdomen was full of tumors but couldn’t be sure without tests. He quoted $1300+ to find out and said he thought Adonis would probably die anyway.
Back in high school, I had three cats who were FeLV+. Shinpaugh took to hiding under the furniture, refusing food and water, etc. This is just what cats do when they decide to die–they starve themselves to death. I took Shinpaugh to the vet and he purred really loudly for the first time in about a month, as if to say, “I know what you’re going to do. Thank you.”
Adonis was acting sicker than Shinpaugh was then. I think he had decided to die.
I respected that decision. Which means that I’m going to be picking up more ashes from the cat cremation place in a few days.
Goodbye, beautiful boy. I love you.
Read Brian’s tribute.