Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Kenya, the Clicker Kitty

I hesitate to write about the days when I showed cats. First of all, it requires admitting that I showed cats. I found out, not surprisingly, that some people who show cats are walking on the lunatic fringe. Sadly, I was married to one of them, and during the twelve excrutiating years we were together, it was the only thing we really did as a couple.

The experience did, however, lend itself to a really funny book.

But I said goodbye to a friend on Sunday. His kidneys failed him and his time was up. So I will go back in time, to my Hall of Shame, in his honor.

He was a retired show cat, son of the greatest Somali of all time, although he didn't quite follow in his dad's tracks, at least from a showing standpoint. He developed a bad habit of hosing down the show cages -- and yes, I do mean hosing. It got so bad that at times, the judge would have to retrieve him from a puddle.

His name was Ch Foxbrush Kenya Strut. He lived up to the name, since he had a serious case of happy feet that didn't quit.

When he was at the height of his show career, in hopes of distracting him from the peeing habit, I taught him to do tricks. I used a clicker and some soft canned food -- some kind of veterinary diet that was mostly liver and water -- on a plastic spoon.

He loved it. He learned to sit up, twirl in a circle, salute with one paw. I taught him to jump through an embroidery hoop too. He got so good at it that he could leap several feet off the floor. He loved lapping the soft food off that spoon and would become quite excited when he heard the click. Sometimes he would grab the spoon with his paw, as if he couldn't get it fast enough.

My favorite of his tricks was to "shake". I would hold out one finger toward his front paw and tell him, "Shake!" and he would lift the paw and flutter it, as if it were wet.

Kenya was twelve years old and long retired from the Show Cat Halls of Shame. Our tricks had fallen by the wayside too, as I had become distracted by other things over the years. A couple of weeks ago, he was still purring and "marching", but he was ill and his appetite waning, so I took him in to the vet.

In the exam room, the vet tech brought in a can of soft food.

"Let's see if he'll eat anything." She scooped into the food with a small, flat wooden stick and held it out to Kenya. He immediately lunged for it, wolfing it down voraciously. The tech looked at me strangely, obviously wondering if I ever fed this poor cat.

I just smiled.

Rest in peace, sweet boy. You will be missed.


jonipony said...

Dear Nancy,

So sorry to hear about your lost of your beautiful cat, Kenya. We humans have such a hard time dealing with our pet friends leaving this earth so much sooner than we do. Kenya seems like such a delightful character that will be greatly missed.

This past year I lost my bouncy little dog, Rosie, who was about 15 years old. She too was a trick happy clicker pet that would do her tricks for anyone that held a ball or a food treat.

Congratulations on starting a blog. I will be sure to check back often!

Patricia said...

There's another book for ya...

It's hard to lose those dear little ones. We assisted my old "Indiana Jones" last summer, and boy, did I cry. I sure miss him - he was such a good friend.

We lived for a while in an apartment I'm sure was haunted, and he protected me from those boogey monsters many nights as I fell asleep.

Hugs - and thanks for the laugh!