Sunday, April 11, 2004.
I stumbled into the office in an allergic haze and pulled my computer out of my laptop case, stabbing the power button with my finger before I headed downstairs to make coffee. I had been up most of the night, working on a grant, and had forgotten to take my allergy pills before I fell into bed.
When I came upstairs 10 minutes later, coffee in hand, I was surprised to see that my laptop hadn't finished booting; it just hummed to a blank screen. I hit the power button again, and noticed for the first time that my keyboard was wet. It was then that my husband entered the room. "Man, it smells like cat piss in here!"
My cat, Hoover, had somehow managed to balance himself on the edges of my open laptop case, and then urinate into the vents in the back of my computer, effectively flooding the machine.
This did not come as a surprise to me. It did, however, horrify the manager of the computer core at work, causing him to don a pair of rubber gloves before taking the machine from my hands Monday morning, as I begged him to save my grant files.
Over the last fourteen years, Hoover has urinated on nearly everything I own, including my favorite $200 silk Stuart Weitzman pumps. The things he hasn't urinated on, he has puked on. At least twice a day. He eats my house plants. As a kitten, he used to fish my stockings out of laundry baskets and shred them.
Why on Earth would I keep a cat like this?
Hoover is a Russian Blue, a breed known for their lush fur and quirky personalities. The Russian name for the breed is the Archangel, and like the Angel Gabriel, Hoover begins each day with a glorious announcement of the previous night's events. He is possessed of a gentleness of nature that I have never seen in a cat, before or since. Hoover has the soul of a poet. He will lay on my lap for hours, belly-up, and will allow me to roll his paw pads between my fingers like worry beads. He waits, patiently, for me to acknowledge his presence when I get home from work, and then head-butts me and purrs. He licks the tears off my face when I cry. He hugs me when I pick him up, wrapping his body around my neck and shoulder. Until a few years ago, he could jump three times his height to catch a feather on a string or a cat-nip mouse. He loves to sit next to me while I sort laundry, hoping that I will drop articles of clothing on him and give him the fun of wriggling back out of the bottom of the pile. He fetches. He somersaults. He is an awesome cat.
For a few years, poor Hoover was the unwilling recipient of the amorous attentions of my dog, Angus. He accepted this with as much humor and good grace as a cat can muster, just before trying to rip the dog's face off. He puts the two younger cats in their places as only the "old man" can do. He has fostered a life-long friendship and romance with Mudge, my 18-year-old calico who, at 5 pounds 9 ounces, is the undisputed alpha cat in the house. Seeing them sleep together is a comfort, no matter how I feel.
This morning, we said good-bye to Hoover. His kidneys have been failing for some time, due in part to a terrible bout of urinary tract disease as a young adult, and we have probably held onto him a little longer than we should. He was ready. He purred a little, but didn't fight me. He left this world in peace, wrapped in my arms and assisted by our gentle, kind and most caring veterinarian.
Thank you for being my friend, Hoover. I hope that cat heaven is wonderful. I will miss you.