Sunday, November 8, 2009

El Magnifico

My kitty-cat died recently. We had been owned by Hector since 2003, when he adopted us at Super Petz in Farragut. I don't really remember what stupid name he had been tagged with there, but when we started home with the 23-pound lug, I decided on the way that he would be "Hector," named for the heroic Trojan prince who sacrificed himself to give his stupid king an opportunity to out-maneuver the Greeks who held siege at the gates.

Yes, his sacrifice was in vain, but that does not -- in any way -- diminish the spirit in which it was made. It is theorized that our cat was at least part Snowshoe, which is some really hooty-tooty breed about which neither of us could have cared less. Hector was an extraordinary animal, damn the heritage, full speed ahead; and I loved him dearly.

When we took him home, he was about six years old. He was also without front claws. Now, I am against this practice in general. It's like sending a soldier to the front lines with a broomstick and telling him/her to point it and say, "Bang!" But clawless he was, so there would be no going outside for the big boat anchor. He used his litterbox just fine, but had some trouble with coverage. Many times, I heard him tugging at the sides of his box trying to cover his "business," and he never figured out why it was still there.

The title for this particular missive comes from the fact that, Woodrow, my brain-damaged son, one day -- in an Hispanic accent -- tagged him "Hector, The Magnifico." It suited him, so it stuck.

Now, many of you cat-lovers will be reluctant to believe what I am about to propose; but it is, nonetheless, true. Hector was less trouble -- as a pet -- than any animal my young bride or I had ever owned. He never created a fuss; he did not complain. When we brought a puppy into his home last year, he dealt with it by totally avoiding and ignoring the ridiculous little thing. By the time of Hector's passing, the puppy was almost as big as he was (Doris is a Welsh Corgi).

Over the years, Hector -- who was obese when we brought him home -- had lost down to about 17 pounds, practically svelte for his enormous frame. He was never unable to jump wherever he needed/wanted to be, and he did not eat as much as one would expect. Also, his taste ran to the inexpensive in food. He preferred Friskies dry cat food, which can be had for nearly nothing. This is more evidence of his perfection, and complete disdain for complexity.

Hector made regular visits to the veterinarian, where he always got a clean bill of health. We carried him there in his dog crate, because they never made a cat crate big enough for him. I still remember his first vet visit after he adopted us. We were actually heading to Walt Disney World not long after he came to us. When we dropped him off in his crate, the look on his kitty-face said clearly, "Great. Here we go again."

When we brought him back home after our return, he kept walking around the house, not quite able to believe he wasn't a victim of foreclosure. Before the dog came and he gave up his rights to the front of the house, he spent a good deal of time lazing about on the couch and in my leather recliner.

Many times, when I would go to bed at night, kitty would jump onto the bed and lay down behind my head, then give me a neck massage. I have no idea what pleasure he got from this, but it felt fine, and we both were happy.

In the mornings, he would always come to the kitchen while I prepared coffee, and tell me all of the assignments he had accomplished while I was laying about after my massage. Then he would sit on the floor by the computer desk, making himself available for petting while I checked ESPN and my mail.

A couple of weeks ago, I got up to get ready for work. Hector came and jumped onto the bed, where I petted him, and he purred at me. I went to start coffee, then went back into the bedroom for something (I still don't remember what). As I stepped around the bed, I trod on a soft object, and thought, "That feels like the cat. Can't be the cat, he would have jumped." So I turned on the light. Of course, it was El Magnifico.

I picked him up and tried desperately to talk him awake. When it became clear that he was not going to wake up -- ever -- I shook The Boss awake and told her the news. To her credit, she handled everything extremely well while I cried like a beauty contestant who just wants world peace. She also observed that in death, he was still Hector. No muss, no fuss; just a quick cardio stoppage, and done. I got myself cleaned up and headed to work, though I didn't really want to go.

I know it seems ridiculous, but Hector was -- truly -- one of a kind. I miss him terribly.

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