Last week, we bid farewell to a beloved member of our family. In honour of the 19 years he spent with us, I have excerpted references from our annual family newsletters.
1996 – After many years of wishing we could have a cat, but believing it was impossible due to allergies, we decided that our symptoms were mild enough to take a chance. Our first kitten, Chessie, came to live with us in September 1995, but she only lived to the age of 9 ½ weeks, due to a weak heart. Then Augustus joined the family, and our lives haven’t been the same! His name means “majestic and exalted one,” which, of course, every cat knows he is, and he is now 15 ½ months old. He likes oatmeal, cheddar cheese, and Earl Grey tea, but he’ll settle for Purina Cat Chow™. His favourite playthings are Mommy’s important papers (“Bad!”), plastic bags (“No!”), a rubber snake, and a plastic egg. Thankfully, he has pretty much outgrown chewing on electrical cords. We no longer have an answering machine, though…
1997 – Augustus keeps busy chasing spiders and anything that moves under the bedclothes. He entertains himself frequently by going on The Hunt.
1998 – Augustus… continues to amuse us with his antics and grace us with licks, purrs, and rubs. (By the way, if you need a good laugh, take some Scotch™ tape, crumple it into a ball, and set it in front of a cat.) [Note: It stuck to his paw, and he tried so hard to shake it off that his paw was a blur.]
1999 – Augustus is four years old and glad to have his turf back. Four three months, my cousin, her daughter, and cats Kiwi and Buttons lived with us. Buttons had great fun chasing Augustus whenever he could!
2000 – Augustus the ferocious feline is fine, although the vet almost gave up on his last examination. Apparently cats revert to their natural, wild state in the presence of medical personnel.
2001 – Augustus has started to mellow out. He no longer hisses at everyone who enters his territory. Of course, it may be that he has us all trained to do things his way… In any case, he seems to be more affectionate now and will even lie down on people without being coaxed. Will wonders never cease.
2002 – Augustus the Cat had a little run-in with the basement door this summer, and as a result, his tail is now 4 cm shorter. He still has his other eight lives, however.
[2003 – We moved from a house to a condo this year, so the newsletter was about other happenings in our lives. However, Augustus made the transition fairly quickly, likely because he was surrounded by familiar people and objects.]
2004 – Augustus the Cat, now nine years old, is thriving. Provided he stops climbing up on the kitchen counter when he thinks we can’t see him, he will live a long and happy life.
2005 – Augustus now measures his age in double digits. However, he seems blissfully unaware that he is no longer a kitten. He delights in tearing around the condo in the middle of the night while we are trying to sleep. Catnaps are for passing the time while the humans are out at work. Augustus has also learned a new way of getting the humans to do his bidding. He likes to curl up on Daddy’s chest or mine while we are reclining. We usually give him a scritch behind the ears. If we stop before we are supposed to, Augustus will slowly reach out one paw and tap us lightly. He has us well trained!
2006 – Our cat Augustus, now 11, has had a fairly uneventful year. He still loves playing “Hide and Seek” and “Chase My Tail,” and he tolerates the comings and goings of the many people in our lives, as long as they don’t get close enough for a hiss.
2007 – Augustus may be 12 years old, but he acts like a kitten. More than ever, he is enamoured of small rubbery things, such as erasers and the tabs that fall off zipper pulls. He bats these around until they end up under a piece of furniture. One of these days, I am going to move said furniture to see what he’s got stashed back there….
2008 – Augustus the Cat reached a milestone this month. After 13 years, he finally sat on Daddy’s lap. Now, it could have been that Daddy was sitting on Gus’s spot on the couch, or maybe our ferocious feline is mellowing out. Those who have had the dubious pleasure of meeting Augustus will know what we mean.
2009 – Augustus The Cat keeps active. He thinks we don’t notice when he gets on the kitchen counter or the desk. He has even done some keyboarding on Daddy’s computer. He likes to live on the edge.
2010 – Augustus The Cat has continued to mellow out and rarely hisses or scratches at guests. In fact, our daughter’s godmother visited from France and spent a week here in peaceful co-existence. Augustus still has a naughty streak, however. We regularly come home to find kitty cat footprints on the counter, and he has figured out how to perch on the sofa cushions even when they are propped up on an angle to prevent feline lounging.
2011 – Augustus, who is now 16 (the equivalent of 80 in human years), has only slowed down a little. Naps are clearly a priority; hissing at visitors, well, not so much anymore. He was very accepting of our daughter’s godmother and EVEN ALLOWED HER TO SCRITCH HIM. However, Augustus is not quite sure what to make of the gerbils! [I was pet-sitting for a few weeks, and I let Gus examine their cage. He carefully walked around it, staring intently at these new beings who were completely ignoring him.]
2012 – Augustus understands a new command: “Towel!” It means, “Sit on this towel.” We recently bought a new comforter and want it as fur-free as possible, so he has to sit on a towel when he comes into the bedroom. He learned this in a single day, proving you CAN teach a 17-year-old Cat new tricks. He also learned that he can sit wherever he wants when Mommy and Daddy aren’t looking, proving that a Cat can outsmart a Human any time he wishes.
2013 – Augustus the Cat reached the ripe old age of 18 in August. He had lost some weight and was looking quite thin during the summer, but he regained his energy and now seems to be back to normal. Augustus can be very affectionate when someone is eating macaroni and CHEESE or pie and ICE CREAM; he does a great job convincing said person that the dish needs a thorough licking.
On August 29, 2014, Augustus left us to cross the Rainbow Bridge. He was 19 years and 1 week old.
After Gus was gone, we had many items that we no longer needed, so we gave them to our animal hospital. I encourage my clients and friends to donate old linens to vets, animal hospitals, animal shelters, or the local Humane Society. These wonderful places can always use towels and sheets that may be a little ragged around the edges.
Many thanks to Dr. Steve Avery and his wonderful assistants at the Davisville Park Animal Hospital.
Bye-bye, little guy. RequiesCAT in Pace.
King Augustus reclining on his royal throne