Friday, August 31, 2007

Viva Lyle!

This is Lyle. He got a shave down yesterday at the vet, so he looks like he's lost ten pounds. He's also still quite sleepy from anesthesia.

Lately I've been thinking about the woman who gave me Lyle. I was in my early 20's and Airy was a couple of years older. We worked together in a medical supply factory. She told me about her new kitten; he had changed her life and she didn't understand how she ever did without him. It made me want to get one, despite the fact that cats make me sneeze and get bloodshot eyes. Several weeks later, Airy said she wanted to give me her cat. I went over one night after work and got him, though with grave reservations. I didn't know if I could handle this responsibility, this kind of long-term commitment, this kind of threat to my immune system.

Airy loved Lyle. But her home was her castle. She'd gotten married young and moved out of her mom's house into her husband's. That turned into a crazy situation and when Airy left, she left with the clothes on her back and not much else. So she worked really hard to save up enough money to make it on her own and have a nicely furnished apartment - the first space in her life that was truly hers. Lyle was shredding her furniture and she couldn't take it anymore.

I'm assuming that's what the problem was, because she didn't really say and I know that shredding is what Lyle started to do immediately at my place. He ruined the spines of my LP records and all the books on the lower shelves of my bookcase. He gutted the padded rails on my waterbed. He took the upholstery off a love seat. There was no sense getting mad about it either. He liked getting chased around the house and spanked, and would claw something loudly whenever he got bored and wanted some action. Many's the time I threatened to take him to the pound.

There were times when he got fleas and I couldn't afford flea-killer spray, so I got fleas too. Lyle hated to be brushed, and there were times when his long fur got so matted that shelf-like clumps on his ass became his litterbox. He has to be sedated before he can be properly groomed, and I spent money on vets and grooming when I could barely pay bills.

But I wish I could find Airy so I could tell her thank you, thank you, thank you so much for giving me this cat. He's got the greatest bossy personality and he keeps my feet warm in winter and his eyes are beautiful because he looks like he's wearing eyeliner and he's such a loving, affectionate entity who's seen me through the tumult of the last 15 years, virtually all of my post-college life. I looooooooove him.

Yesterday the vet gave Lyle a clean bill of health. He's 15 and he has feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, a disease similar to HIV in humans. Unfortunately I found out about the disease and had him tested for it while my other cat, Lyria, was dying from it two years ago - she was only 9. I still at times get tearful when I see black cats because they remind me of her.

So now every time I take Lyle to the vet for maintenance, I'm worried that they'll find something wrong with him. But this time the vet said his blood work shows that he's actually in really good shape for a catso his age.

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