Monday, May 12, 2008

RIP: Chunk

I had intended to blog about my great experience at this past weekend's Emerald City Comic Convention, here in Seattle. In fact, Jeff Parker was giving me crap about how infrequently I update this thing.

Well, the con's going to have to take a back seat for a day or two, because things took a sad turn this morning. My cat, Chunk, died suddenly. And when I say "suddenly," I mean he literally fell over and died.

He had problems with bladder stones back in April, which almost resulted in surgery, but the vet was able to get him to pass the stones without surgery and he's been fine ever since. So I was completely unprepared for what happened this morning. The morning started off normally with me sitting at my desk and Chunk and my other two cats hanging around my office. Minutes after Chunk got off my lap, I heard a weird sort of "moan" coming from the kitchen. It was weird enough that I wanted to see what the cats were up to, so I went into the kitchen and found Chunk lying on his side, eyes open, with his tongue hanging out. He sort of coughed/gasped once or twice, and I thought maybe he was choking. But I soon realized he was dead, and the cough/gasp-thing was probably some sort of reflex. The entire thing happened in less than a minute. I think he was dead before I even got to the kitchen. The vet tells me it was probably a heart attack. We'll never know exactly what happened.

I've had my other two cats, Idgie and Coal, for close to ten years now, but I only had Chunk for about 18 months. He came into my life over two years ago, when he started hanging around the patio of my friend, Laura's, house. She started feeding him, and he basically lived on her patio for a few months. Laura had five cats at that point, and didn't want a sixth. I was really taken with this big cat. He was very timid at first, but after awhile, he let Laura pet him. And when she was out of town, I'd stop by every day to feed her cats (plus Chunk). I'd spend awhile on the patio, letting him get used to me. Eventually he'd let me pet him. He wasn't fat in the least, but we started calling him Chunk because he was just thick. He had a huge head and a big, thick neck. He was just solid muscle.

One day, Chunk showed up on the patio all beat up, and in serious need of medical attention. Despite his size, he was apparently not a good fighter. Laura took him to the vet and got him fixed up, and we decided to take him to a shelter. I was still smitten with the guy, and said that if no one adopted him, I'd take him. The last thing I wanted was a third cat, especially since Idgie and Coal got along great, and I didn't want to upset their happy home.

Well, Chunk lasted a single night at the shelter. The folks there knew that I would adopt him if all else fails, and they called Laura the next day and said he was unadoptable. They said he was too traumatized being in the shelter, and no one would want him. Laura thinks they just said that since they knew I would take him, and the more I think about it, the more likely that seems.

I was moving from Seattle to Gig Harbor at the time, so I decided the best way to introduce the cats to each other would be on neutral ground -- my new apartment. Chunk didn't become instant friends with Idgie and Coal, but within a week, he was accepted, and they've gotten along fine ever since.

Chunk's name became even more appropriate as he settled into his new life as a pampered, indoor cat. He eventually ballooned up to 18.5 pounds. He became much more social and discovered the joys of catnip; being perched in a tall cat tree; sitting on my lap; sleeping on my chest; and cuddling with Idgie and Coal. When I'd have guests over, the "unadoptable" Chunk was sometimes more social and friendly than Idgie and Coal. When my dad visited, I think Chunk was curled up on his lap within an hour of my dad's arrival.

Last weekend, I moved from an apartment in Gig Harbor to a house in the same general neighborhood. Idgie and Coal have moved with me from New York to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to numerous apartmets in the Seattle area, but this would be Chunk's first move after settling into his life as an indoor cat, and I was worried about how he'd handle the change of scenery. I shouldn't have been, because he took to the new house immediately. For one thing, the window sills are wider than my apartment, which meant he could actually sit perched in the window, just like Idgie and Coal. And he loved racing up and down the long hallway so much that I was pretty sure he'd be slimming down in no time.

Chunk got to enjoy this new house for barely a week, and it saddens me deeply that I won't be building any more new memories with him here.


jamie said...

cheers,mate... while your cat passing away suddenly is very sad news,it's made me want to get a cat,even though i've always been against them.
-i hope chunk is chasing big chocolate mice up in cat heaven.
just got to run it past my wife now...

Greg A said...

Jay, I'm heavily sorry to hear about Chuck's passing. I've never owned a cat before or was a cat person but last year I visited my mom's cousin in NJ and she had a cat that was frightened of us. A day passed and he (Meetsu) began to grow attached to me to the point where'd he jump on the bed I was sleeping on and fall asleep on my chest or lie right beside me with his legs on me like a human, lol. I grew so attached to him and sadly heard a few months ago that he passed away. I was a little depressed for quite a while. I wrote a script where the main character is a cat and I named him after Meetsu. I've only known Meetsu for a day and I was so sad about his passing and I can only imagine how you must feel, you owning him. Best wishes, Jay.