Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Per Ed H's request..."The Story Of Scotchie".

Before Millie, Chel and Trekkie, there was Scotchie.

Scotchie was an orange tabby cat that I was blessed to have for about 7 years.  I got her as a kitten from a cousin of mine.

My then-boyfriend and I went to my cousin's house to pick out a kitten.  The first one I spotted was already taken, but then I saw Scotchie.  She must have really wanted to escape the country life because as soon as I picked her up, she started purring like nobody's business.  Of course, the boyfriend ("Ike") and I fell for it and took her home with us.  She rode all the way home in my coat, purring all the while.

Once we got her home, she let us know who was in charge but was benevolent enough to let us stay with her.  Never mind the fact that we paid the rent...that wasn't important.  What WAS important was that she was in our lives, and was there to stay. 

Scotchie was aptly named because she was the color of butterscotch, but she always looked kind of dusty. Why?  Because her fur was tipped with black, so she always looked like she needed a bath.  Even some of her whiskers had black in them...a black top or a black bottom.  However, unlike many orange tabbies, she had very little white on her.  Not even a white tummy...just lighter orange. 

After a while, "Ike" was out of my life, but Scotchie stayed.  She and I were bachelorettes together, and our favorite pastime was sharing a bag of microwave popcorn.  I would crunch up a few kernels (making sure to avoid old maids) and lay them out for her on a napkin and we'd sit on the couch and snack.  She slept with me at night, either behind my knees or draped on my side like I was Snoopy's doghouse.  She greeted me at the door every day, and didn't even get too mad when I had to shut her in the bedroom during an unexpected visit from a repairman or the landlord. 

Scotchie managed to worm her way into the heart of Ed H. when he and I were dating...pretty soon, they were best buddies and I felt kind of left out.  Ed told me to think of it this way...he and Scotchie were "buddies", but Scotchie was my "baby".  That seemed to be the dynamic so I accepted it.  However, it still made me a little wistful when I saw the two of them sitting on the couch...I felt like I was replaced.

Ed H. managed to spoil Scotchie worse than I did...he got her turned on to tuna.  Whenever we made anything with tuna in it, Scotchie was right there waiting for the can and the "juice" from said can.  She knew the sound of the can opener and everything.  That was the only table-scrap indulgence she got from us.  Whenever Ed's mother took Scotchie in for us, Scotchie got spoiled and ate table scraps at "Grandma's" house, so we'd have habits to break when we got home. 

Scotchie was still my girlie in many ways...she was there to greet me when I came home from my hospital stays.  When Ed would go to his mom's house or to see a friend, she and I relived our bachelorette days and napped or snacked together.  When she was contented you could hear her purr all the way across the room. 

She was not without bad habits, though.  Her worst one was jumping on me from the top of our bedroom bookshelf and landing smack dab on my abdomen.  She also would beg for food (usually after a visit to Grandma H's house), and get into things she wasn't supposed to.  But all she had to do to get out of trouble was look at us with her big green eyes and let out a "prrow?" and we'd pick her up and hug her to her heart's content.  We were suckers. 

Our cross-country move to Maryland was an adventure for us and miserable for the cat.  The vet said to sedate Scotchie and she'd be more comfortable but all we got was a pissed-off, stoned cat for part of the journey.  In fact, the only way Scotchie would stay quiet was if she was in her carrier in the FRONT seat, facing Ed as he drove.  I was basically a glorified pedestal.  Once we got to our new home, Scotchie hid out in the bathroom but gradually got used to the place and owned it all over again. 

When Ed H. and I split up, Scotchie was confused about where "daddy" went, but she still was loving towards me.  She still slept with me at night, behind my knees or draped on top of me.  But one day, I couldn't find her anywhere.  I didn't know if she was pouting or what, but I figured she would come out when she was ready.  I had one roommate that moved out and another that moved in so I thought she was just hiding out until she felt adjusted.

But that wasn't the case...she was very sick, and I didn't know it.  When she finally came out, she was not looking her best...her fur was dry and she was off-balance.  She got sick all over the place but still wanted to be with Mommy.  Finally, I took her to the vet and he said she was jaundiced.  They ran all kinds of tests on her, and couldn't find any of the big diseases (Feline HIV, Feline leukemia, etc).  She was finally put in an incubator, and I made the decision to put her down.

The morning I put her down, Doug was here in DC on his first visit and all he saw of DC was my apartment and the vets office. 

The vet put her down via injection, and I was there with Scotchie until she was gone.  I cried as though my heart would break, and felt like I betrayed Ed because I didn't take care of her like I should have or something like that.  I didn't know what I did wrong, and now Scotchie wasn't with me anymore.

Soon after Scotchie passed, I got Chelmsford but he wasn't the same sociable kitty like Scotchie was.  He was, and still is, a shy dove.  Once Millie joined our family, I finally got to feel that same "mommy" feeling again.  Then came Trekkie, and I'd forgotten how rambunctious a kitten can be.

But nobody could ever replace Scotchie, really.

I didn't even try.