Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kiko (1997-2007)


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON AUGUST 22, 2007

No one knows exactly when Kiko, the namesake of this blog, came into the world in a hayloft above the stables where the Dear Friend & Conscience rode. Nor do we know when she left this mortal coil, although it has been a week since she ambled off into the woods for the last time.

The cats and dogs who populate our lives have an uncanny sense about when it is time to move on. If they are allowed outdoors and can break free from the clutches of owners who mean well but insist on sustaining them with endless vet's office visits, medications and therapies, they will try to settle up in their own way.

There is no question that is what Kiko has done.

She was "only" about 10 years old, but in my experience cats that spend a goodly amount of time in the wild move on sooner. Additionally, Kiko had a close encounter with a motor vehicle at some point, losing a fang and injuring her hind quarters. There may have been some undetected internal injury that trimmed a few years from her life.

Kiko was a hellion from the day she arrived home, and even as a wee kitty was ferocious and sweet – ferocious to any mousie or other rodent that mistakenly crossed her path during her explorations and sweet to the DF&C and I, as well as her mentor, a big goog of a cat by the name of Panda (with Kiko in top photo).

Los Lobos, the marvelous band from East L.A., had released its "Kiko" album about the time we got around to naming her.

I was playing the album and grooving on the great beat when she did something quite amazing – shooting up the underside of the open staircase in the living room backwards, then turning around and coming down the same way -- all to the beat.

"Let's call you Kiko," I said, and the name stuck.

Everyone thinks that their kitty is special, but there is no denying the Kiko was very special.

Cats are a lot smarter than people give them credit for; they just aren't inclined to let down their independent-minded guard and share that innate intelligence with the two-legged crowd. Kiko, however, was an exception.

She alerted the DF&C or I when Kimba (with Kiko in middle photo) wanted to come in the house. She had quite a selection of catnip toys-- stuffed Bill and Hillary Clintons, Dubya Bush, Bill Gates, Ahnold Schwarzenneger, and so on, that she would place in groupings, or in one case a "groping" when Bill ended up on top of Hill. She looked endlessly at doorknobs, latches and hooks, and I'm convinced that had she not been hindered by her tufted paws, she would have figured out how to open every door that stood between her and where she might want to be.

I would never think of a pet as an investment, but by that equation the time and expense put into Kiko in her decade on earth does not even begin to compare to the love and affection that she gave us, as well as all of the laughs. Besides which, Kiko never lied, did substandard work or overbilled for her services, which too many so-called humans do.

Then there is Kimba, whom Kiko in turn mentored.

He was one pitiful little critter when the DF&C rescued him from his feral mother -- malnourished, worm infested and his eyes nearly glued shut from infection.

Kiko had two choices: Kill Kimba, which she could have done in a heartbeat, having bagged prey as large as herself on many a hunting trip, or nurture him.

Today Kimba is robust and handsome, if a few cards short of a full deck. He misses Kiko very, very much. As do we.

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