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Richard Best

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A Song of Latte Kitteh Boy [Aug. 24th, 2015|03:28 pm]
Richard Best
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[What I got thinkin' itself in my headheart: |morosemorose]

Sing praises of a Latte Kitteh Boy,
Sing praise before he dies-
Which nearly happened at least once in the week past,
And is still all too likely to happen sooner than anyone is ready for it,
Even if all goes as well as it might...

Sing praise of he who arrived as a little ball of mostly-white fluff,
With large head and oversize paws indicating he had quite a bit to grow into,
Flame-point Siamese with orangey marmalade or tabby coloring at
The ears, the forehead, the tail, where a seal point would be black or brown-
It has spread a bit since then, but no matter,
He is still teh cutest evar, a beautiful beautiful boy

She asked me a name and I suggested 'Snowball',
And she snorted, saying I could do better than that...
Looking at him curled up, asleep,
Tired after his journey down from the mountains
Into a new unfamiliar place,
I saw that he to some degree resembled a well-made cup of the coffee I like,
Were you looking from above,
And so he was christened Latte

Latte! Beautiful boy!
Latte! Mighty guardian of the doorway,
Until someone enters,
And hunter of flies!
Latte, who thought he should be alpha of Mister, who was several years older,
And never really quite got that he was not and never would be,
Who also is not much alpha to Pekoe who came along later
(After Mister died)-
Pekoe knows a bit more about true dueling,
And though ('til recently) quite a bit smaller than his 'brother'
(It was Latte got smaller than he was, not that Pekoe suddenly got larger)
Knows a bit more about uses of momentum, and sudden rushes,
And using the higher ground to advantage,
Whereas Latte mostly thinks these things should happen, well, -'because'

Latte, who does not need to be invited to purr, for just about anyone,
Latte who sleeps up on the pillows above her head,
Keeping a paw on her forehead so she wakes up wondering why she is so warm,
Or sometimes beside me for a while,
Or at our feet,
Or under the bed, or behind the stacks of our stuff in the hollow in front of the closet,
Or on my chair in the hallway, or out on the roof
(Such as it is- an enclosed airway between our apartment and the one next door)
Or in the smaller airway on the other side,
Or head under the register in the bathroom, or in the tub,
Or on her lap, or sometimes mine,
Or on top of the stacks under the television table,
Or up on the back of her chair, or on the stack behind it,
Or under my desk when there is room
(He used to curl up in the bathroom sink,
But it's been a while, until recently, that he was small enough to do so),
Or sometimes in the carrier
(except when it's actually being used to take him somewhere,
In which case he wants most desperately to be anywhere else)-
That cat can sleep just about anywhere, I suppose,
And sometimes it almost seems that he's chosen a particular location
Just to prove exactly that

Latte! who waits (sometimes) to be 'waved up' to his food,
Latte! who drinks from the bathtub tap and sneezes when the water gets up his nose,
Latte! who will flirt for a belly rub by lying on his back
With his front feet tucked up into 'bunny paws' and 'that' look on his face
And then deliver rabbit kicks with his hind feet when he's had enough of that,
Or just because- his eyes focused on some far distance-
We're not sure he's actually aware of what he's doing
When he's doing that

Latte! who will make the stinkface if you try to pet him,
Or if he sniffs your hand,
After you have been handling citrus-
Lemons, oranges, grapefruit- I'm not sure he was ever tested on lime, but probably limes,
Tangerines, tangeloes- any all that

Latte who trusts that he can lay about on a lap
However he wants to,
And the person holding him will not let him fall,
Latte! who sounds like he must surely be dying when you give him a bath,
Latte who tries to bury his food- the wet stuff, anyway-
After he's had enough (for now),
Latte! who knows, or at least thinks he does,
When I should be getting home,
And will go and sit and wait,
Or, when he tires of waiting, will still check every so often just to make sure

Latte! of the large blue eyes,
Latte who chirrs at birds when he hears them
(Most of them, due to the enclosure of the roof space, he cannot see,
Even when he can hear them quite well),
Latte of the whappitty tail that is always moving,
Except in his deepest, deepest sleep

Latte! who pulls open the cabinet door in the kitchen to see if anyone's in there
(Mister did like to go there, but Latte kept looking long after he was gone),
Latte! who has taught Pekoe to be worried that something or someone might be under the bed
(Eeka- neighbor's bad kitty, but they were sour in temperament, so he followed their example-
Liked to go there, but Latte continued worrying long after they, and Eeka, moved away),
Ready to jump out at you if you get too close,
Latte! who will bump up against a knee if you are sitting down,
Who will love around your ankle
Except that's a bit dicey considering his fangs stick out and tend to drag a bit pointishly
Latte! who will dart in or out the window chasing or being chased by Pekoe
And humans stay out of the way because it is not our job to watch where your feet are going
Latte! sometimes called 'Puppy Boy'-
If ever a cat was part dog, he was one of those-
The look in the eyes, the tilt of the head, the pointing focus

Latte! who likes to chase after the toys she makes of pipecleaners,
And (sometimes) to bring them back to her to be tossed again,
Who likes to (sometimes) bless them in the water bowl,
A bit of a dunk, like a baptism in a font,
Who (sometimes) likes to bless them first, and then bring them back to her
Latte! who looks for the green box of kibble
(Maybe he doesn't see the color, being a cat, but he sure knows what it is)
When she comes home from the grocery store,
And near tries to climb up into it
While she's trying to pour a fresh serving into his bowl
Latte! who never has quite gotten the hang of covering up after himself
After using the litter box-
He does all his 'digging' afterward outside the box,
As far away as he can stretch,
Dragging in anything loose in the area that might cover over what he's deposited
Latte! who seems to think that when the refrigerator is open,
It is for the express purpose of allowing him access to
The plastic things are wrapped up in,
So he can lick it
Latte! who had a similar fetish for hair on the loose,
Away from whom must be kept all unsupervised combs and brushes
Latte! who will 'dig' at any smooth surface-
The end of the tub,
Magazine pages I have laid on the floor
Discarded while I sort out articles and pictures I want to retain,
With a look similar to that that he gets while rabbit-kicking,
Obviously 'off somnewhere else' in his thoughts
Latte! who loves to be brushed, except sometimes
What he wants is to grab the brush best as he can with his paws
And love up against it, or try to lick the captured hair out of it

Latte! the inncocent! (well- mostly)
Latte! the- well... mostly- good!
Latte who will walk the windowsill behind the dresser and
Knock over knickknacks,
Latte who sometimes needs a couple of squirts from the water bottle
To be persuaded to move in the right direction
Latte! who must help with making the bed
(who also got Pekoe involved, or maybe it's just a cat thing),
Latte! who must help with wrapping presents,
Who whether or not presents were involved had a ribbon fetish
Similar to his attraction to hair-
You couldn't leave it just lying around-
He would grr on it and end up swallowing it, or trying to-
More than once she pulled a length from his mouth that was longer than could have fit into just his mouth
Only to have to discard it because it was- well- strictly speaking, no longer usable

Latte! who often seems to throw himself at the floor when lying down,
Or to simply have fallen over,
So you about expect him to hurt himself- we did sometimes hear an actual thud
Latte! who will stretch up to greet me with an outstretched paw
(Usually though not always the right)
And oh! the fur between those toes!
Up against a stack of crates or, if unsupported,
In some danger of leaning far enough backward to fall over
Latte! who would run if he was in the bathroom when you flushed the toilet
(It's an old place- the plumbing works okay sometimes,
Not so well at other times, it can be helpful to have a plunger at the ready)
Or turned the water on full in the bathtub
(No no no no surprise bath for kitteh!)
Latte! who after a couple of times causing a scare
Led to me tying a pair of drawstring pants around the base of my drum
(Stowed upside down) to ake sure he didn't fall in

Latte, who came to us through at least a couple of confluences-
One, as mentioned, to be companion to Mister, whose tale is told elsewhere,
Another- our pastor's wife's daughter
(This pastor is retired now, but no matter)
And a friend of hers had three cats between them who birthed litters
At about the same time,
And then one of the mama kitties, being an outside cat, was- they think- eaten by a mountain lion-
What was a difficulty became an emergency,
The call went out for new parents to adopt as quickly as possible,
And so he came to us

Latte! who about 6 months ago began to vomit,
Not on a regular basis at first, and at least a couple of those times
Looked like they were caused by hairballs
We both at first wanted it to be something that would resolve itself
And go away,
But when after a couple of months it became
More of a regular thing, every day,
I started talking about needing to get him in to a vet to be seen-
Not that I had any idea how we would manage, other than
Perhaps through the help of friends-
I don't make that kind of money

It got worse

We could afford to keep hoping as long as he was keeping enough down to live on, but
A couple of weeks ago, he couldn't keep anything down,
And a few days later he stopped eating or drinking anything on his own
She gave him food and water with an eyedropper
Not nearly enough, and not all of it staying down

At church the next Sunday she stood up at the first service and offered up our boy
In Prayers & Concerns
And after the service a lady came up and said she'd take care of making sure he got seen
She had lost a cat the Christmas past, inherited from her mother when her mother died

Monday he went in
They did blood work, an x-ray, kept him overnight
They were all impressed by how friendly he was, and how beautiful
He had a growth or mass around, not in, his stomach, that the vet said
He'd never seen anything like before,
An infection for which he needed an antibiotic shot, and was terribly anemic, and dehydrated-
So anemic that we were cautioned against giving him too much water,
As that would further thin his blood

Tuesday he came home

Wednesday, I came home from work to find that
She had put him in the carrier to keep him from going under the bed-
She didn't want him to die down there,
Apart from anyone and having to be, as it were, dug out
I opened the carrier at one point, as I was sitting with him,
And he got out and went out to the kitchen
And brought up what little, almost nothing, he had in his stomach

I put him back in the carrier
Closed it
Cleaned up after him
And cried

A friend asked me a couple months ago what I would do if I suddenly had a million dollars
Or something like that
And one of the things was a place where we would have enough outside space,
Well-enough enclosed,
That they could run around in being cats,
'A meadow for chasing butterflies' is how I put it
And this
Is all I have to give him

Thursday he lay there in the carrier, mostly on his side
His eyes always open, always open,
Unless he was blinking them only at times when no one else was looking
I don't think he was sleeping at this point, either

I held him on my lap for a while, but it was a bit awkward
He had no strength to arrange or support himself,
He was sort of hanging on with his front paws
But he still wouldn't have stayed in place if I hadn't been holding him

There were 15 minutes or so when we thought sure that he was going
She didn't think he was seeing anything,
But I could see that he was tracking on movement,
Though leaning over from above as I was, I could not tell with any certainty
Whether he was seeing, or if it was just coordinated with what he could hear

And I leaned over him
And I bent over him
And I cried
and I told him that I loved him
I told him you are our beautiful boy,
Our beautiful mostly-innocent usually-good boy,
And I love you
And we love you
And you are loved
I noticed a bit of sparkle on his paw
And brushed at it
And it was wet,
It was one of my tears,
And that only made me cry more

If love alone was enough to save him,
He would have been whole and hale right there
If love alone was enough to heal him,
This never would have gone so far-
It injures my faith in the power of love a bit

In those moments, there was no time,
Only myself and my love for him, and- if I am not mistaken- his love for me
No time in that eternal moment
And yet
No time enough to allow him to heal and live,
No time, and no time, and no time for no time

We could not explain to him
I am sure he did not understand,
That his world had closed in to a vast surrounding darkness
With perhaps a spot of light somewhere,
Our voices coming to him, if at all,
Through a murky insulation of things shutting down
Half an hour later it seemed fairly certain that if he was going to go,
At least it would not be right then

Friday he again fared poorly,
Though we didn't have any moments like that
His eyes still open, unblinking
We, or I, could not figure why-
Maybe love for us, maybe just animal instinct that one does not simply give up-
He was still holding on,
I can not say fiercely under the circumstances,
Though who knows what was going on in his head, or his heart, or his soul
I told him that it was alright

Oh dear god
(this my reaction now, recounting this,
Though surely I felt some of the same at the time, not given voice)

That it was alright to let go, if he had to,
For him to move on-
She added that he would wait for us, then,
That he would be with Mister to keep him company-
I'm not saying I don't share in this belief, just that it was not my focus-
That it was alright to let go, if he had to,
But I would much prefer that he pull through, if he could,
And remain with us

He just jumped up onto the toilet lid behind me,
Possibly on the way to the sink-
He can fit into again, having lost so much weight,
Or he likes the small counter between the sink and the toilet

But to return to the story-
She decided he should sleep in the bathroom that night,
Where at least he could move around a bit,
If he had the strength to do so,
And use the litter box

When I went to use the bathroom before going to bed,
He was in the tub- I didn't know he hadn't started out there,
The door was closed just in case,
And he went over to sit near the tap
As if asking- or telling- me to set up a trickle for him,
And he drank from it,
And I left it on and left her a note

Saturday he ate a bit and drank a bit and ate a bit and drank a bit
And slept some, though not as much as I would have liked,
From what I knew about anything

Sunday he continued, and managed to poop, very watery and smelly,
And pissed a bit as well

He has been doing better since then,
Although when he went to the vet's Tuesday he had lost another couple of pounds
As a result of the intervening ordeal,
Down to 7 pounds from somewhere around 20 before he stopped keeping food down-
He was overweight, before- but this wasn't a way I'd recommend to lose any of it,
Were it a matter of prescription

It is Saturday again, almost Sunday,
And he has been breathing a bit laboriously tonight,
Which is something he was also doing at some times
While all the rest of this was going on,
And it frightens me

That there might be something else wrong,
Or more caused by the same thing,
That we might lose him so soon yet
After having regained him for this short span of days

It is Monday 2 weeks after the first vet visit
He just vomited in the tub while I was working on adding the bits about
Chasing in and out the window, and wanting a meadow
His tongue was protruding quite a bit from the effort,
At least before he got anything to come up-
A thin brown liquid, no chunks, so presumably
He managed to get something out of it through digestion
It would have landed on the towel he's been lying on if I hadn't repositioned him,
And held him there
Now he's lying on his side, breathing heavily-
He did manage to roll from one side to the other while I was petting him,
So at least he has the strength to do that
And he has a 1:30 vet appointment, so
We'll see what happens
But I'm scared all over again
What follows was already written
I'm going to save this
And go pet him some more
And try not to worry

O Latte boy!
O mighty hunter of flies!
O my boy, my darling boy-
She complains sometimes, if a bit tongue in cheek,
Of how he so obviously loves me, waiting for me to come home,
Complaining to me when I do of how lonely he has been in my absence,
Loving up against my shins and ankles,
When it is she who feeds him and cleans out the litter boxes and so forth,
She who sits with him and brushes him,
She who feeds him milk off her finger (he will not drink it from the bowl),
She above whose pillow he sleeps, keeping her forehead warm with a paw,
She who is awakened in the morning by his biting on her fingertips
To see to it that he is fed
(Yes, I mentioned already that she feeds them, him and Pekoe both-
This is related, but different),
She who tosses rings from milk jugs-

(he likes the red ones from the whole milk the best, it seems-
no knowing how he might tell them apart
And if he's not playing 'fetch', or when he's done playing fetch,
He might try to put the ring being payed with under one of the rugs,
Or under the refrigerator, or the stove,
Or the bin we store water bottles in, or under the door of the hallway closet
There was one time that he got one under the bathroom door,
Then went around to the other side and batted it back out again,
And then went higher trying to get at it from there
And got his paw stuck in the space between the door and the frame
It took me several tries to figure out which way to move the door to open the gap wider
So he could get his paw out-
And I almost went far enough the wrong way to have crushed rather than released)-

Or the felty things you put under furniture to keep it from scarring wood floors,
For him to pounce on and- sometimes- bring back to her,
She who bundles catnip into socks that he tries to get open to reveal the treasure within,
She who is often the one who feeds him treats (she sometimes delegates to me),
She who brought him here from where he was born,
She who has loved him 2 days more than I have,
2 days more than I could have under the circumstances,
And yet he is my boy, could hardly be any more my boy if he was indeed of my flesh and blood

O my Latte!
O my beautiful boy!
O my boy, and- hers, too, I will admit, if a bit grudgingly-
I am jealous, sometimes, of the time he spends with her
When I am not here, working or whatever,
Just as she is jealous, sometimes, a bit,
Of his love for me-
But in reality these are very small jealousies,
And we all love each other as well,
So- I suppose- it all works out, somehow

O my Latte!
For now, at least, you are here!
O my boy, my beautiful boy!
For now, you are with us, and you are loved!
O my beautiful darling Latte boy!


added 2015.08.25: 'Puppy Boy' reference; pipecleaner toys; green box of kibble; litter box troubles; plastic in the refrigerator; hair fetish; digging in the tub; loving the brush; corrected tale of mama kitty's presumed manner of demise and a couple of spelling errors
added 2015.08.26: further notes on milk jug rings, including paw stuck in bathroom door; 'bunny paw' flirtation for belly rubs; ungraceful lying down
added 2015.08.27: explanatory notes about looking under bed, in cabinet; helping with making the bed and wrapping presents, and ribbon fetish; standing on hind legs to say hello; running from flush or shower; putting pants on free (my drum)