Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dr. Chicken Jones 1991 - 2007

Chicken had been ill for about a year and a half. We had him on steroids for most of that time, and he'd been steadily losing weight and energy. His organs were finally giving out, he'd couldn't jump on the couch or eat much without throwing up and he was down to five pounds when we had the vet put him down.
He has been a wonderful, affectionate, and tolerant (of the children) friend and companion. He's traveled from San Francisco to Albuquerque to Raleigh and always adjusted quickly to his new home (though he did get himself trapped in the woodwork of our downtown apartment.)

I remember Chicken and Morpheus (who also passed this year) chasing each other in our SF apartment sounding like camels charging from one side of our place to the other, little Chicken doing aerial somersaults in pursuit of the elusive shoelace. He'd wear himself out chasing things and performing for us and end up panting for air.

I recall combing fleas out of his fur for hours, which was good practice for nail clipping and other chores he'd soon need to endure stoically. As a young cat he was willing to fight for a corn cob or steal a bit of food from your fork en route to your mouth. He'd probably grab it out of your mouth if your took too long to chew.

Chicken was, on occasion, pretty smart. For example he quickly figured out the trick of the laser pointer, he'd chase the dot for a bit and then follow the line of light back to the source and stare into the beam (that pretty much ended that toy). The latter part wasn't too smart, but I think cat's can be forgiven ignorance of lasers. He enjoyed a good chase, and would in his younger days drag toys from all around the house to us to play with him (including some pretty big ones).

He usually took a while to warm up to people, but once he did, he was very affectionate. This didn't apply to people feeding him in our absence, to whom he immediately cozied up. We'd always caution people feeding him that they might not see him while they were here. But, they'd always respond upon our return that he immediately came out, gave them head butts, and sat in the laps for as long as they'd stay.

From the beginning he was very tolerant of the kids, if not over loving of them. He eventually came around and would give them head butts. He had two long term cat friends and roomies, Morpheus and Spooky (that latter was given away for fear he would roll over and smother infant Sophie). His primary nemeses were autumn leaves caught in the wind and swirling around our back door. He'd whine and claw at the glass in frustration.
People would always wonder at his name. The way I remember the story (16 years old) is that Alexis B, Amanda and I went to the SPCA in San Francisco to get a cat (against my wishes). Amanda picked out the saddest, shiest cat in the place. His name tag said 'Ariel.' We decided the name didn't really fit him so went about trying to pick a new one. I wanted a Shakespearean or Greek name: Horatio, Orestes, something like that. Alexis wanted old lady names: Agatha, Mildred, etc.. (Chicken was a male kitty). Amanda wanted to wait and decide later. After much argument, Alexis admitted that it didn't really matter what we named him, since she called all small animals "Little Chicken." I can attest, having watched a few nature shows with Alexis, she would call all the small animals Little Chicken. So we decided that we'd save him the confusion and just name him chicken. The name fit for the first few years of his life, as he was pretty skittish. Since naming our little guy Chicken, I've heard it used several other times (c.f. Bitchy Bitch's cat).
Pretty much anyone who spent much time with Chicken loved him. I was looking into kenneling options this summer, and the woman at the counter of the Pet Hotel heard his name, and remembered him from a year and a half go. "I love him!" She exclaimed. That was the kind of impression Chicken left.

I wish cats were immortal, but they aren't. Chicken had what seemed like a good life and was surrounded by people who love him.

He will be missed.


At 10:31 PM, Blogger amanda said...

he had a good life. thank you for taking such good care of him. I miss him.

At 2:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he was a fantastic cat. i have missed him lo these many years. he was also morpheus' one cat buddy (morph was responsible about tabonuca as a kitten, and one or two other kittens in his life, but he was a human-oriented cat, not a feline oriented cat :).

i remember chixen stepping on morph's head for some forced bathing. i remember chixen's warring instincts as a strapping young cat: "stay the hell away from the moving things," and "get the food at all costs!"

he was so beautiful: such lovely marbled silver tabby markings, and such a _long_ stretchy guy! i still make his miaows bordering on hysteria upon sighting the food container.

and he could be so affectionate in his slow to warm and timid way. like, mr morpheus, chicken was also a teacher of mine: someone whom i loved, and who inexorably tested my patience (what with two food obsessed cats on greenwich, there was a lot of kitchen hijinks :).

and i remember chicken even warming the cockles of our not-so-interested-in-cats friend phil, to the shock-silenced amusement of the rest of the mousers one afternoon. :}

i remember . . .


At 11:56 AM, Blogger jeff said...

"He usually took a while to warm up to people, but once he did, he was very affectionate."
I lived with Chicken for a month before he would even be in the same room with me...but once he warmed up, he was great fun, hanging out on my lap just long enough for both of us to get some love, and then jumping off when somebody else would walk into the room, living up to his name again and again.

Why aren't cats immortal? Ack. I'm sorry for your loss. How are the little ones dealing with it?

At 5:56 PM, Blogger Scholz said...

We've been walking a fine line between not lying to the kids and not telling them the truth. Basically we haven't really mentioned it. When we get home, if they ask we will tell them. And part of me hopes that they are sad for a little while. They loved Chicken too and should have an opportunity to mourn.
They will undoubtedly ask questions, and then the dance begins. Usually when confronted with the death of someone, toddlers will ask about themselves and the parents. And the real fear sets in when they worry that they will be left alone without watching them. So, we will do our best to assuage that worry, if it arises.

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Sveldheim said...

I'm sorry to hear the bad news; it's always so hard to lose somebody who's been such a good companion. My sympathies.

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this Steve. I had an animal for many years that I loved very much and still miss, so I can imagine it is hard.



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