laloOur cat is 19 and a half years old. I think he is nearing the end of his life.

The vet told us six months ago that his kidneys were failing, which typically happens with old cats. But he has seemed fine, just slowing down, sleeping most of the time. Yesterday, however, he started limping and stumbled down the steps when he went to the basement where we keep his food, water, and litter box. We immediately brought all that upstairs. But in the last 24 hours he has grown even weaker and can hardly stand up. It’s the weekend. We have an appointment with the vet Monday morning. We’ll see. Meanwhile, he continues to appreciate attention and petting. Vic and I are trading off on that because if both of us move away, he, too, tries to move. Right now he is curled against my leg, sleeping. If my presence is a comfort to him, this is where I will stay today.

We acquired Lalo and his sister, Mourka, when they were kittens, offspring of a stray mother. It was the year I turned 50 and they were our first housepets, other than a short-lived hamster, because our kids seemed to be allergic to cats when they were young. When they had their own homes they both acquired cats and did fine with them. Maybe they outgrew the allergies. In any case, it has always been clear that we are all cat people.

Mourka was prettier–a ginger-and-white longhair–but Lalo was always my favorite. Mourka was a little ditsy. She was the attention-hog alpha kitty. She didn’t like lap time all that much except when Lalo wanted it, and then she would nudge him away. He deferred to her and soon gave up trying for the lap at all. But he would post himself nearby, as if to say, I love you too but she is the needy one so go ahead and give her what she wants. When Mourka died six years ago, Lalo quickly became a lap kitty.

Lalo was an indoor-outdoor kitty until this winter, when snow is piled so high and the temperatures have dropped so low that nobody wants to go outside much. His great pleasure was going for walks in the woods. He would follow us along the rough path, often getting distracted and investigating this or that until he saw we were far ahead, and then he would come racing to catch up. He knew all the climbable trees–that is, the ones with slender, sloping trunks that he could shinny up a little ways, aided only by his back claws because his front ones were missing. I’ve often regretted declawing him but if we hadn’t, he might have spent all his time high in trees, chasing squirrels.

Our original intention was for the cats to be kept entirely indoors (and off the furniture and the bed but you know how that goes). Lalo was the one who kept insisting on going outside and soon they were both going in and out. We never had a cat door because of raccoons, so we were our cats’ well-trained doormen. Mourka discovered that she could get back into the screened-in porch because the door was seldom latched and opened inward. She just pushed it open with her nose. Lalo never discovered that trick, or never thought he needed to. Instead, he learned the much harder trick of pawing the door inward so he could slip out.

So it’s sad to see him nearly immobile, deprived of his freedom. I won’t even run the vacuum cleaner right now because he won’t be able to escape to the hiding place I’ve never discovered.

Lalo is named for our family’s favorite Mexican restaurant in the Chicago suburb where we used to live. He is the color of the flan we always shared as dessert. Vic and I recently went back to this restaurant. It has changed ownership and name and it has gone rapidly downhill. There is an end to everything.

6 thoughts on “Lalo

  1. I have fond memories of cat sitting for Lalo (and Mourka) over the years. They will always be cherished members of your family.

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