Monday, January 22, 2007

Vladimir Catelinet, 1998-2007

I honestly can't believe I have to post this message. I'm still in shock. I wrote most of this post as an e-mail this morning to my friends and family. Last January, my cat Magenta passed away after being ill for several weeks. I guess his illness gave me time to prepare for him to die. But nothing prepared me for what happened last night.

Vladi died suddenly last night around 1 AM. I don't know what happened to him. I hadn't seen him for about an hour but that wasn't odd. I was just about to go to bed and I went in the bedroom and found him lying there on the bed like he was asleep. But he wasn't breathing and his eyes were wide open. I just knew he was gone as soon as I saw him. I rushed him to the vet center near my apartment but there was nothing to be done for him. When I first got him as a kitten the vet said he had a heart murmur, but my NY vet said he couldn't hear it and couldn't confirm it. Maybe that had something to do with it. Whatever it was, I hope he didn't suffer. He'd had a happy Sunday evening hanging out with my girlfriend and I, and even an hour or two before he died he was sitting quietly dozing on the couch with me as I watched TV. That's why I think it was a sudden heart attack or other problem that took him. He wasn't suffering at all, he didn't seem sick, so I think it was something that just couldn't be prevented or helped.

Still, I can't believe he's gone. It happened so fast, and so strangely, that it was like a dream. I'm going to miss him so much. He was my first pet. I wasn't a cat person or even a pet person before Liz and I got Vladi as a wedding gift from a friend. It didn't take long for me to love him. He was so sweet, the way he would curl up in my lap for hours or sit next to me on the couch. He was always so crazy and rambunctious, and he was never sick. We called him "Officer Vlad" for the way he would patrol the apartment and meow if he found anything out of the ordinary. He followed me around the apartment like a puppy would. He'd meet me at the door when I came home after work. He was my alarm clock if I didn't get out of bed to feed him, and he'd wake me up by knocking things off my dresser until I got up. Lately he'd been sleeping on my pillow, sometimes on top of my head. He was so small and light that he sometimes jumped from the ground straight to the top of a door seven feet above him. When he did that as a kitten he was too scared to jump down on his own, so I'd hold up a book and he'd use that as an "elevator" to come down. He used to wrestle Magenta all the time, and when I saw them fighting I used to sing the Kirk vs. Spock fight music from the old Star Trek episode "Amok Time." After Magenta died last year he and Starlite would chase each other all over the apartment, usually right in front of me while I was watching TV or using my computer. One of his favorite tricks was to jump on my back when I wasn't expecting it and he'd sit on my shoulder like a pirate's parrot. He was "that little bastard," but he was also a really special little friend.

When he was a kitten, Vladi didn't mind his carrier or car trips. That changed after we took him to Johnstown with us for Thanksgiving in November 1998, when he was just a few months old. He hid under my bed the entire time he was in my room, and he destroyed a shelf of old toys when he tried to climb onto it. After that we had to fight with him every time we had to go to the vet. When we moved to the Upper East Side in 2003, we couldn't find him after the movers had left, and we thought maybe he'd escaped out an open window. We finally found him curled up in the back of his litter box, scared out of his mind. But a few hours later, he was out and exploring his new home and back to bossing the other cats around. He was the alpha cat until last year when Magenta died. Then he and Starlite shared the role of head-cat-in-charge, and not without friction. Like two siblings competing for a parent's attention, they would fight over who could sit in my lap.

Now it's just me and Starlite. He slept next to me last night, which isn't always something he does. I know he knows something happened to his kitty pal. I'm going to have Vladi cremated and I'll get the ashes back to scatter them somewhere in the city along with Magenta's remains. I'll miss that little guy.

Here's a set of photos of Vladi over the years.

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