Thursday, July 26, 2007

his crazy is showing

Lola's orange tabby, Al, has always been dimwitted, but in an easy-going, jovial way. It was his laid-back, loving nature which won this former foster kitten a place in our home. One day, Lola (then three) leaned over the banister and dropped Al from the top story to the bottom story, and Al's reaction seemed to be, "So that's what we're doing today. We're dropping me down the stairs." (Al was unhurt, Lola was disciplined, and no animal was ever dropped down the stairs again). He was also more than game for being carried around like a baby and being driven about the house in a doll stroller, plus he loved to curl up on my chest and purr.

Poor Al has always been a bit of a freakshow. He's emaciated, a walking orange skeleton. As a foster kitten, it took him a whole summer to reach the magic 2 pounds adoptable stage(this is a big part of how he won his place in our home. After we'd had him for so long, it seemed wrong to turn him in). He doesn't have feline HIV or feline leukemia; he has been tested repeatedly. The only thing vets can figure out is that "he is allergic to his own teeth." Aside from his breathtaking skinniness (as a grown cat, he weighs only four pounds at most; his best friend, Frowst, weighs ten), his stupidity is legendary. After over a year, he learned how to use the cat door... to go out. He now can put himself in the backyard, but he can't come back in. Now surely he must notice that his beloved friend, Frowsty, goes in and out all day long, as does Rachel, our other grown-up cat. But when Al gets hungry, he stands by the door and cries.

Weird, skinny, and stupid (but such a cheerful orange color!), Al was beloved by all but the Sober Husband due to his friendly personality. He always loved our foster kittens in prior seasons, grooming them, napping with them, and generally regressing to kitten level with them (he'd go so far as to beg to be given a bottle). But this season, he hates all the kittens, growling constantly. He has moved into the backyard, where he permanently resides. When I'm in the kitchen, sometimes he catches my eye and cries. I've tried bringing him in and closing him up in the master bedroom, with no kittens allowed, but as soon as the door is opened, he tears off back to the yard.

My theory is that he sustained some brain damage. He was his normal, idiotic but friendly self in January when we had our last litter from the last kitten season. Then Al became seriously ill, running a very high fever and living in the closet. His life was saved with IV fluids, antibiotics, steroids, and various other interventions, but I think he "sustained a neurological event", as the saying goes.

That's incidentally the reconstructed version of how Lola came to have a severe speech disorder, by the way (and probably in my simplistic way I've come to believe that's an explanation for everything). Baby Lola was an extraordinarily articulate infant, but she had an extreme fever one night. Anton took her to the hospital in the middle of the night when we couldn't get her fever down (it was something insane, like 113 or so), and she was held for observation. Nothing else of any medical importance ever happened, so we believe that fever sparked a neurological event causing Lola to stop talking and later haltingly speak unintelligibly (but don't worry, my darlings, a super-expensive course of intensive private speech therapy fixed our intrepid Lola, and now the problem isn't getting her to speak, it's getting her to shut up).

Al has become an extraordinarily unsatisfactory pet now, skulking about in the yard. He used to sleep snuggled up with me and follow me and Lola about. Lola likes to visit him in the yard now, and he comes in briefly for breakfast each day, but he's basically worthless as a pet. Speech therapy fixed Lola, but what kind of therapy is available for an extremely dimwitted cat?

13 comments:

hughman said...

wait. isn't this part of getting older? i get annoyed by youngsters too with their "playfulness" and "coddling". ugh. as the saying goes, "youth is so wasted on the young".

i'm guessing (hoping) that after the kittens are gone, al will return to his old routine. in the meantime, don't question his usefullness as a pet. just let him live his life.

the Drunken Housewife said...

He's only two; he should still be young!

I miss the old Al, who slept with me and snuggled and purred and followed us around. Now we just have a weird animal living in the backyard.

Zhu said...

A cat allergic to his own teeth ? Gosh, I gotta read that !

He makes me think of the dog in the Lucky Luke comic... nice but idiotic. Yet, nice. :D

He must be funny though !

hughman said...

animals are different. he's not weird, he's a seperate species! i still say give him a break. he still loves you. he still sticks around. at least he hadn't pulled a bob (yet). wait until your kids turn teenage and turn against you!

Meeks said...

I just had to share the extent to which my brain is fried from studying evidence. The paragraph with the sentence "Al was beloved by all but the Sober Husband"...I somehow managed to read the rest of that paragraph with the pronoun "he" to mean the Sober Husband. Imagine my surprise when I read about him begging to be bottle fed.
I am now laughing at my stupidity out loud in a coffee shop.
Thank you for that bit of sunshine in this dreary day.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Meeks, are you a law student??

Hughman, don't worry; we're not going to get rid of him. To be honest, no one else would want him, sigh. He can live in the backyard for the rest of his natural lifespan. He's just not a rewarding pet to have any more, but we have an obligation to take care of him.

Zhu, someone landed on my blog once from gibraltar googling "cat allergic to his own teeth." that just slayed me, thinking there was a cat in gibraltar with the same problem.

Meeks said...

I am indeed a law student. For the next few hours, then I change into an MBA student. Just finishing my first year in a dual degree program. Because I'm crazy.

Lee said...

My neighbor's cat was allergic to his own teeth. The teeth all got pulled and the cat gained weight and is doing great. Of course the cat can only eat soft canned food.

M said...

Poor Al!

I do feel compelled to point out that even you, the educated, compassionate and very intelligent human, have admitted to "hating" these kittens. Maybe Al is on to something! Maybe he is only on a self-imposed exile to the back yard until they have definitely Left the Building.

Either way, he clearly loves you (and is fortunate to be a part of your family.

Love from me, Ninjai and Bruce!

the Drunken Housewife said...

Lee, that's fascinating. We're at kind of a standstill here about Al's teeth. We hate the thought of getting them all removed, and he's been doing better (physically, not emotionally). I'm waiting for him to get sick again, and then I'll pull the teeth.

M, that litter has been spending a lot of time confined in a pen (to train them to use the litterbox more reliably), with just two kittens loose, who are exemplary kittens that are beloved by all but Al. Incidentally the troublesome litter has improved a lot over the last week. I don't hate them any more; yesterday i had them out of their pen pretty much all day, and they were well-behaved: less squawking, no accidents, not being constantly annoying.

the Drunken Housewife said...

p.s. M, I can't contact you because my laptop is broken! Can you email me yer phone number and email address? I've lost all my data, and we want to visit you. Iris said the other day accusatorily, "We're not visiting M today, are we?" and then on to her paean of praise: "M has a cool house! And cool kitties! I want to go see M!"

Silliyak said...

I gather that the Froswter and Lily are in the same weight class. (She was 10 but lost 3/4lb after her leg issue. This is her last week on probation, and if she gets her medical clearance friday, after training she might be up for a grudge match. Presently we're teaching her rug rides which wil lead up to kitty taco.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Silliyak, you're such a good cat owner! That x-ray was amazing, poor kitty. I'm glad she's getting back on her four feet.