The Fun Apartment has just lost some of its fun-ness. About two pounds of handsome, black, furry fun. At age 18, our cat Gollum has reached the end of his life.
(This, by the way, is a post not from Laura but a guest post from the ‘Man of Her Dreams’.) I met Gollum shortly after meeting Laura, back when he was still quite young and frisky. Many of Laura’s friends thought of him as having a devilish streak. But I knew he was a sweetheart of a cat – albeit one very willing to engage others with his teeth and claws. From the get-go, Gollum and I got along. Good thing too. Who knows where we’d be today if I hadn’t earned his approval. In my experience, he rarely made for much of a ruckus unless provoked.
Like at the vet’s office. Laura recalled his first visit to the vet. Getting him neutered. She dropped him off in the morning to get picked up later on. When she called in midday to make sure all was well, the receptionist repeated his name: “Gollum? Gollum? Oh yes, the feisty one!” When Laura went to retrieve him, a first nurse and then a second nurse couldn’t get him out of his cage. Giving up, they invited Laura to the back to try. On the way toward the back, she heard a cat yowling like nothing before. When he saw her, he gave her a little meow as if to say, “O, thank god – let’s get out of here.”
That was Minneapolis. From there, he gamely made the trek to New York with Laura in the cab of a U-haul. Four years later, we took him in cat carrier on a Septa train bound for Philadelphia. Back in those quieter days of ours, Gollum was the center of our lives. And then life changed dramatically for all of us with the arrival of Big. The news struck Gollum the moment we returned from the hospital. I’m not sure if it was the sight or the smells, but it took him mere seconds to realize there was a new creature in the house – tiny like him. Gollum tore upstairs like a banshee, cautiously coming back down only hours later to start sniffing around. After that, he didn’t make too much fuss. As Laura would say, he was a beta cat – one who acceded readily enough to second place. And then third. It was mere months after Little was born that he drove back with us to New York where he has been an integral part of the Fun Apartment. And he earned new admiration from us with how he withstood a good deal of grief from a couple of toddlers.
Perhaps right after Big arrived, it seemed as if Gollum had instantly lost weight. And as our boys grew ever larger, he seemed ever lighter. By the end, he felt lighter than air. But it wasn’t just relative. In point of fact, he had thinned down considerably. He had been eating less. And drinking more and more. Although we had been pretty well oblivious, these were symptoms of his kidneys failing. And then in the last week or so, it went from General-Signs-of-Aging to Something-is-Really-Wrong. Bad enough that Laura opted to subject him to a vet for a first time in a dozen years.
Toward the end, Gollum had faded some on several fronts – not just the thinning out. Or that he had lost his strength and liveliness. In these last four years here at the Fun Apartment, he would hunker down underneath our bed for large swaths of the day. There, he could safely stay out of reach of our other little fellows romping about. But he would reliably come out at certain times. Like any good pet, he would come out to greet us when we got home. For much of our days here, if he hadn’t raced me to the bathroom in the morning, then he’d come trotting over at the sound of the tub faucet squeaking on. Jumping into the tub with the tap now running, he would slurp down as much fresh water as he could get. But his favorite part of the day was at night. Even before the kids came along and definitely afterwards, he relished the time that Laura would settle in for bedtime reading. With the boys sound asleep, Gollum would have us to himself. He would stand on her lap, or maybe between us, alternately stepping and ‘kneading’ with each paw. We thought of it as his ‘tucking us in.’ Purring away, he would demand some attention, and we would gladly give it. Especially when I think of the mere fur and bones he had wasted down to, I marvel at how such a little creature could be such a huge repository for love. He is sorely missed.