Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chin Chin (ca. 1998-2011)

Most rescue cats come into the lives of their new owners in cat carriers or by meowing outside of doors until they are fed. Chin Chin, or Chin has she came to be known, arrived in a pillow case.

Chin had lived unhappily in a house dominated by thuggish owners and a big dog, and I would see her tiny black-and-white self peering at me through a lace-curtained window when I would pedal by the house on my mountain bike during morning rides. Then about three and a half years ago, the owners upped and moved, abandoning this indoor cat to the elements, or so said a next-door neighbor who alerted the Dear Friend & Conscience.

It took several days of leaving food on the side stoop of the house before this terrified kitty could be coaxed near enough to the DF&C that she was able to grab her and stuff her into a pillow case. Thus stuffed, the DF&C arrived back home where she dumped Chin onto the living room floor. We expected that she would flee underneath a sofa or bed, but instead she took one look at me, seemed to exclaim to herself, "Oh, you're the guy on the bike," trotted over, rubbed up against my legs and was soon purring in my lap.

* * * * *
A trip to the vets, Chin's first and last one under our care because of her profound fear of being poked and prodded, revealed that she probably was 10 years old, had but three teeth and confirmed that she was mute, in all likelihood because she had been abused.

Chin had been so named because . . . well, she didn't have a chin. She was so emaciated that she also didn't have fat pads on her feet, although she did have the correct number of ribs, which were all too visible. While it took a heartbeat for Chin to welcome herself into our lives, it was several months before she grew back a chin and her fat pads reappeared. She was never robust, mind you, but she did put on weight and her coat developed a glistening sheen that she spent hours grooming.

* * * * *
Like I said, Chin was an indoor cat and she only made two trips beyond the confines of the house in the time that she graced our lives: The aforementioned trip to the vets and when the DF&C didn't realize that Chin had slipped onto the back deck when she opened a sliding door in the dark of night. I was the first to notice that Chin wasn't on her usual perch atop a couch the next morning and found her crying piteously, if silently, on the other side of the slider. Fortunately, it had been a mild summer night.

Chin began to noticeably fail last September. She was down to a single tooth, was losing a lot of weight, seldom groomed and sometimes would slip and fall trying to get a drink of toilet water or jump onto her favorite kitchen stool. Her hind quarters began giving out, her purr became fainter and we had to nurse her several times a day on small feedings of Newman's Own Premium Organic Cat Food when she stopped eating the old reliables. (Thank you, Paul.)

Quality of life is relative, of course, but we were determined to not put Chin through a visit to the vets to confirm what was obvious: That she was dying. And so when she was unable to get up the other day we tried to make her as comfortable as possible. Chin drew her last breath yesterday morning lying on a towel in the dining room.

* * * * *
People ascribe great virtues to their pets and can be forgiven the hyperbole that usually accompanies their oohs and aahs.

But Chin did have a special virtue. She had been abused and neglected and then abandoned, yet she had great sense in her tiny head and great love in her big heart in adopting us. Believe me, it was not the other way around. And for a few short years she gave us a joy that we gladly reciprocated.

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