“My Old Man”, a sleepy Stanley, on the rocker, on the deck, in the sun, in late spring of his last year with me, 2006. He was with me for 21 years and came to me well into adulthood, so my best guess is that he was 24 here; he passed the following January but enjoyed his time outdoors until December, demanding to visit the yard and download his pee-mail every day, sometimes before he had breakfast, but before his frequent dose of sub-cutaneous fluids for his chronic kidney failure and morning nap.
His tabby coat and white markings were so common but to me he was the most beautiful tabby cat I’d ever seen. I adored the little white diamond between his eyes and the little snip of white on his nose, and those precious white paws, always like white cotton balls, dangling off the edge of the rocker, a very typical pose for him all his life long. The racing stripes that outlined his eyes and the structure of his face turned to big marbled swirls on his sides, and his tail was very much like a raccoon. Even to the very end his eyes were very big and very green and very dramatic and he was the original melodramatic kitty. He wore his little kitty heart on his tabby sleeve and loved me and his feline brothers and sisters and from the door defended his home passionately, though sometimes with a little too much…moisture, against any intruder who dared stepped a paw into his yard.
The scene for this is my deck, which you’ve seen in so many other photos of my cats, though typically in color for the brilliance of the turquoise rocker Stanley sleeps on, and the pinks and purples of the flowers and green of the herbs I always grow in pots.
This photo was taken with traditional black and white film using my old Pentax K1000 with the 50mm lens and the 1.5X teleconverter behind the lens for a shallow depth of field. I set the f-stop and shutter speed so that the highlights and bright sun in the background would flash out but the details in the mid-range areas, such as Stanley’s face, would hold. I scanned the print and applied no filters to it.
It has always made me think of summer, of morning, and old memories.
Another old man
About a month ago, a cat rescuer got a message saying “there’s a kitten laying in the road”. She rushed over and saw a skinny and confused cat in the middle of the road, rescued him and a veterinarian determined he was a 15 year old cat but just looked so small because he was severely emaciated, had a heart murmur and hyperthyroidism.
It’s possible he wandered away from home. It’s also possible someone couldn’t afford care for his multiple conditions, or he was urinating in the house because of his thyroid condition, or he belonged to an elderly person who died or needed to move to assisted living, and the old man was tossed outdoors. No one will ever know, but all the situations above have happened to other cats, all too often.
He was also declawed. At some point he’d been someone’s pet, possibly even recently, and when he’d been given fluids and food and love, he responded as a loving pet would respond, purring and happy. Once he was stabilized the veterinarian removed his thyroid, he began to thrive, greeting people at the clinic, very alert and social.
He reminded me of Stanley in his last year, trying to stay hydrated, a little confused, but social and friendly and determined to make the most of each day. I’ve cared for so many older cats that they all look like old friends to me.
But his kidneys didn’t catch and continued to fail, and he died just the other day. At least he was rescued, in loving hands, and many people grieved him. I wrote on his RIP post, “There was something familiar about his slightly clumpy fur and slightly sunken eyes, it always looks like wisdom to me.” In memory of this old man, and Stanley, and many other old men and lady cats.
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