Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quilting Hospice

OLOK is sick... this week, I combine my quilting, (and work) with - nursing. The ravages of time appear to have caught up with our formerly tough old tom cat. Named "Our Little Outside Kitty" by my then young son, OLOK (rhymes with "o-lock) has always been our not too familiar - mostly outside cat. As the years have passed, he's grown fonder of staying "in", especially in bad weather, no longer living up to his unusual name.

He's more than paid his keep - a champion mouser, no vermin stayed long around the premises - often such deeds were highlighted by a special "offering", laid neatly at the back door, as though offered in payment for room & board. Such offerings being rare, however, as he had a serious taste for mice... rarely sparing one for a "giveaway"... I once watched him somewhat incredulously as he finished one off (it was barely dead) with great relish, leaving nothing but the tail - ugh! He was always my husband's cat, as Joe "rescued" him from a no doubt shorter, and harder life as a feral cat. As a very small kitten, he was noticed roaming the garden and back yard - coming and going in and out of the street drain. Our home then backed up to a very old farm - where a few cats were always to be seen around the old barn and nearby pond,(Frogs being apparently almost as good as mice - legs only please!) cruising quietly at the feet of the elderly woman who lived there in those early years. It was always an idyllic scene.

- OLOK in better times...sneaking into

the sewing room...

The appearance of the little cat was not welcome, as our other cat, TC (the Ten Dollar Cat), was very territorial, and, a fight would be sure to be in the future, if the little kitten were not caught and tamed (or - given away). My husband set about to trap the little orange striped tabby...
It only took a couple of days, and one day, the kitten was to be found in the trap - baited with sardines - at the back of the lot... I remember watching my surprised husband trying to pick up and carry the cat - inside the trap - back to the house. The cat, seemingly so happy, and friendly in the garden chasing frogs, had turned into a tiny Skil Saw... actively trying to attack my husband through the bars as he carried the trap by the small, to-close-for comfort handle! Not a happy kitten - and a surprised husband.

He brought the cat (still in the trap) and, decided he could "tame" him... sitting, still hissing and spitting in the trap, and looking VERY untameable - now, in the corner of the kitchen.

Throughout the day, he offered up tiny bits of tasty things - which the kitten at first refused, but later, young hunger won out, and he ate them, only when no one was looking.

Joe spent the night sleeping on a sleeping bag, next to the trapped kitten - by morning, the door was open, and, hand inside the cage, the dirty deed was done - the kitten (somewhat) tamed...

So, OLOK was never REALLY my cat, or, my son's though, he often would deign to allow me some seemingly reluctant (don't touch my feet!) lap time. Most days he could be seen spending the lazy summer days in his favorite spot in the yard or garden. He never forgot that street drain - always a quick spring away in the event of any alarm. Never tolerant of any other people, he could disappear in a heartbeat at the appearance of any visitor to the house or yard.

I was concerned about our move into the city from our "almost country" suburban location in June of 2006, but he seemed to adapt to closer quarters fairly well. Spending more and more time indoors, especially cold winter days. He discovered that the hunting, while not quite as good, was still possible here, with baby pigeons replacing the field mice of his former haunts.

He's always been protective of his territory. Despite being neutered, he still was known to spar from time to time with any other cat with the misfortune to step over whatever invisible line separated HIS world from the rest of it. Only a few of these encounters ever resulted in any damage needing any care. OLOK was always an impressive (and beautiful) creature. Strong, and big, but never really overweight. If he didn't want you to hold on to him, he was quick to let you know it was time to put him down...and you knew you didn't want to argue. He could turn instantly into an armful of sharp claws! A bit of a "macho" man, he would never back out of a fight.

Last spring, he finally got involved in a contest that resulted in an abscessed wound and a vet visit. The vet then remarked at how healthy he was for his age... I wonder what the other cat looked like...?

The neighborhood, unfortunately has many feral, and sort of tame cats - many living at one unfortunate old soul's home... none are neutered, all look in bad shape, and several seedy looking tom's are seen frequently haunting our yard. I began keeping OLOK inside nights - he was NOT happy... favoring staying out at least until our bedtime each evening.

A few weeks ago, he apparently got into another scuffle - but this time, kept his wounds secret - hiding in front of, and under his throat - two chest bites. They festered, and, finally, when I noticed him turning down food, I knew what was up and forced a search of him - by then the abscess had already swelled and drained. He's been on a downhill slide ever since. The vet can find no real reason for the refusal of food - says it's just something they do naturally - he may just start eating again - he may not.

He has been spending days in the sewing room (which he normally is not allowed in), taking over my old rocking chair, seemingly enjoying the hand feeding (sometimes forced though). Drinking water, but refusing solid foods. The vet says, he may snap out of it, or he may not - we could have him force fed regularly, but have decided not to force him to endure such an ignominious treatment.

So, the sewing studio has become a "hospice" of sorts... day by day, the hoped for recovery seems further and further away, though I hope that the next plate of special fish, or tuna or kitty milk, might suddenly be accepted by my old friend.

At least, I have a nice, but somewhat mindless quilt pattern to work on.

I enjoyed a wonderful class last weekend by Denise Lipscomb, owner of Common Threads Quilting Shop in Waxahachie . She taught an easy, (but complex looking) pattern called "Pioneer Braid".
All the pieces are cut, there is a lot of chain piecing, and repetitive work, with the only decisions being which color to pick up next. A great way to get rid of scraps, though I decided to stick with a single color scheme - light and dark purples. Doesn't it look complicated? It's so simple, it's silly... for the pattern and a virtual visit to her fine shop: www.commonthreadsquilting.com
OLOK gets to hang out with the first two rows. The rocker holds many memories - it was my favorite place to nurse my young son so many years ago...what better place for a kitty hospice?

- Karen 1/23/2008

No comments: