sittingstill (sittingstill) wrote,

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Back in December, 1992, the very smart kitten later to be named Leopold decided that once he was weaned he was coming to live with me. While I waited, I asked a vet tech friend for advice. "Get two," she said. As luck would have it, there was one unclaimed kitten left in the litter...

I named him Allegro, after the black cat in the piece set to the Valse Triste in Allegro non Troppo. If I were aiming for accuracy, I should probably have named him Andante. In any event, he was quickly nicknamed Lego, which was also handy shorthand for "Le'go my leg, you crazy cat!" (He had a thing about climbing up your pants leg... even if you happened not to be wearing pants.)

If Leo was a classic cat--regal, stately, seemingly aloof but really just dignified--Lego was best described as a space alien. He was talkative, and his exasperation when he couldn’t be understood was just short of his exasperation when you knew exactly what he was saying but pretended you didn't. He’d sit in a living room chair, upright, back and shoulders against the chair back, and when Leo would tear through the room on his evening crazies, Lego would look at you like "What's the matter with the cat?"

He earned himself the nickname of Disaster Cat fairly early. He leaped from a living room chair to the top of an enormous curio cabinet, which was diagonally across a corner and essentially immovable, and promptly fell behind it; fortunately he had a highly-developed paper bag attraction and I was able to fish him out. He pulled over a full-size stereo speaker, getting his claws caught and breaking three toes, resulting in his wearing a body-to-floor cast for a month. (The first week he dragged it; by the second he could walk on it; by the third he was not only running on it but had discovered that if his brother chased him, he just had to jump on the couch, whirl onto the armrest, grab the armrest with the good paw for leverage and bop Leo on the head with the cast.) He got a paw caught in the radiator, and rewarded Mom's effort to free him with a chomp on the hand; he was okay (though a little patch of black fur grew back white) but Mom had three days of antibiotics on an IV drip.

He had an ever-changing sequence of favorite toys, which he would carry about the house with him. A piece of clothesline rope. One of those '70s clip-on koala bears. A terrycloth baby bib. The plastic clip that held the shower curtain closed (until he stole it, that is). He loved the Cat Dancer so much that it had to be hidden from him, or he'd drag it up to you every waking moment. And he created his own games, the best being the Pen Game: he'd get underneath a bed where the covers draped to the floor, and you'd run a pen or similar implement along the floor, waiting to be startled when his paw shot out from under the covers, like the children's toy where the skeletal hand grabs the penny. (He loved pens, in general, whether they were in use and waiting to be batted from a hand or at rest and waiting to be knocked onto the floor.)

He was as interactive a cat as I've ever known. He'd lie next to you as you sat on the couch, and expect that of course he'd get head skritchies... but woe betide you if you stopped before he was ready. First he'd raise his head... then turn to look at you, indignant... and if that didn't work you'd get a sharp vocal rebuke. The first time kteeski visited my house, we had a big evening out including a few beverages... the next morning she woke to find Lego stretched out lengthwise next to her, head on her shoulder, paw thrown across her chest, gazing up at her. Their eyes met; Lego said "Mwreh!" And poor Kate thought, "WHAT did I do last night...?"

He loved a variety of foods: shrimp had to be his favorite, but he'd jump on your head for cantaloupe, green beans or broccoli, too. And he loved olives, though he didn't seem to want to eat them--he'd just worry them to bits rubbing his cheeks on them.

He was a little gimpy from arthritis in his late years, but he seemed to escape the medical maladies that befell Leo until last weekend. He had nausea and some loss of equilibrium. After two vet visits he regained some appetite but his balance grew worse. He still purred, he still wanted to be with me (even when balancing while stepping onto me was clearly an effort), he still let me know when I'd stopped the head skritchies too soon. But this morning he fell from a standstill, and his nausea was clearly mounting a comeback--he licked the sauce from his packet of food but then hunched himself around his tummy, and when he went up to bed to lie down he was trembling. I was only half kidding when I told Cyn that, like Pedro, he was going to say he could go on forever; I was the one who was supposed to make the call. And I did.

I miss him so much.

He couldn't resist anything dangling...

He loved the half-way point on the stairs.

Posing with the Miyazaki collection.

On the kitty massage tableironing board.

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