We got him when he was three years old and he allowed me to take care of him for twelve years.
He was an extremely handsome fellow. A Himalayan, he had the biggest bluest eyes. His name was Symba. To me this name did not suit him so I ended up calling him Cymbal, which means idiot in Polish. THAT suited him.
He was not an easy cat to like as he showed disdain for almost anyone who came near him and if you dared to pet him, he would pull his head back and look at you with a, “ME.... you are trying to touch ME?”, followed by a surprisingly painful smack of his front declawed square paw.
He used to trip my husband with lightening speed. Unless you actually witnessed him doing it, all you saw was a gently dozing cat. He would disappear instantly when he saw Adam taking off his slipper, because he knew that slipper was coming his way.
Being Himalayan, he had long, short and downy fur and hated to be combed. I would have to strip down to my underwear because his fur would literally fly. I would hold him upright on the edge of the bathtub and the two of us would travel back and forth, the whole length of the tub, with him growling and muttering and walking sideways and me keeping in step, doing my own mumbling. We were quite the sight.
We already had two cats and if he had any illusions of grandeur, they were quickly put to rest. He was definitely on the bottom of the totem pole. Keecha, our little female, gave him the equivalent of a feline black eye! He looked very much like Popeye for a few days.
Because he was an only cat for the first three years of his life he was used to always having food in his dish, but that ended shortly after moving in with us. Keecha would eat her food, then Cymbal’s. He learned the meaning of, “you snooze, you lose,” very quickly.
It seemed as though he would never get used to us, and many times I caught him packing his little suitcase in total frustration! I had to yank him back into the house more than once.
One day, a few years ago, I noticed he was walking like a drunken sailor and was off his food and water. I took him to the Vet who said he had an allergy...”to himself.” His white blood cells were attacking his healthy cells. She informed us that without meds he would die.
Since giving him a pill every day was too traumatic for him, I found, through trial and error that every third day kept him healthy, and helped to preserve my sanity.
For the first while I simply put his pill in his food dish and he scarfed it down. I felt very smug until he learned to eat around the pill. I then purchased “Pill Pockets.” These are little envelopes of cat treats into which you put the pill and the cat eats it up. This worked for a few days, and then I would find envelopeless pills in the dish.
Even though the sight of me pleading with a selectively deaf cat was highly entertaining for my family, it did nothing for my credibility as a semi-intelligent person.
A more direct approach had to be implemented. For a time I was able to catch him, throw the pill down his throat and blow into his nose until he licked said nose. This is a sign that the pill had been swallowed. Soon he started kicking me with his clawed back feet and I resorted to wrapping him in a towel like a mummy. That earned me baleful looks that would bend an iron rod.
After wrapping him and holding him firmly against me I would pry open his jaws, shove the pill down his throat, hold his mouth shut, blow on his nose and croon sweet nothings while I gently stroked his throat. He would glare at me with half closed eyes, but would finally give in and lick his nose. On one occasion after I set him down, he turned to me and looked me in the eye with so much disdain it startled me. He then spat the pill at my feet with a distinct “ptooey” and vanished.
The next day I ordered liquid meds at triple the cost.
Then the meds stopped being effective. He ate less and became lethargic. We went to the cottage for a few days and took our little darling with us. He actually seemed to do much better while we were there, but as soon as we came home he stopped eating, drinking and even using the litter box. When we took him to the vet, she said there was nothing she could do for him; putting him down would be the kindest action. I was devastated. It was so very difficult to tell her to go ahead, but we both knew there was nothing else to be done.
His one last offering of the middle digit? He peed all over her keyboard and her shoe.
That was my Cymbal!!!
I still miss him, and half a year later thinking about him can still make me weep. Who knew?
© Christine Terepora 2011