Fort Catankerous

Click on the picture of Sirbie to see more pictures of him
Name: Sirbie
Nickname: Scooby
Birthday: May 3, 1993
Adopted: August 31, 2003
Died: January 16, 2009
Breed: Maine Coon
Weight: 16 pounds
Likes: Raisins, food in general, huggies
Dislikes: New things, people who try to touch him when it's nappy time, going outside in the daylight
Talents: A vertical 4 foot jump & the ability to reach a doorknob
Motto: When it hits the floor, it's in Sirbie's domain
Pictures: Go to District of Sirbie
Obituary: It's Odd

It's odd. There are two ways I can spin this news. One is slightly positive, in an odd sort of way. The other is definitely a bit depressing.

1). For the first time in five years, I got to sleep in.
2). For the first time in almost 17 years, there's no cat around me.

That's right. Sirbie is gone. We put him to sleep last night. He died a little after 10pm. After being diagnosed with fluid filling around his lungs (with cancer the likely culprit), Sirbie would walk a few feet and then lay down, huffing and puffing. A couple of times, his back legs collapsed a bit under him, forcing him to stop. Of course, he made it seem as though he meant to stop there, that it wasn't a physical limitation that made him suddenly lay in the middle of the floor. He had a last meal of tuna water before we packed him into his carrier. He made not a sound the entire drive to the clinic.

As I climbed into bed afterwards, I looked at my alarm clock and realized with an overwhelmingly sad feeling, that there was no need for my alarm to be on anymore, not just that night but ever again. I don't need to get up at 7am anymore to give a cat an insulin injection. But then when I woke up this morning (at 7:00, darnit), I waited to hear a cat jump on the bed or feel one walk across me to put a nose in my face. It's an odd feeling not to have anything wandering around the house right now.

I got up in the middle of the night and I could swear I felt a soft paw under my toes. How many times had I stepped on Wensley or Sirbie or even Oggy in the middle of the night because one of them was so happy that I was awake and followed me into the bathroom to play? There was no paw underfoot last night and it was an odd feeling.

When I woke up for good this morning (I did manage to go back to sleep at seven), I heard Jeff sitting in the dining room eating his breakfast. Well, I heard him burping and I called out to him that breakfast was no longer a boys club so he had to learn to behave. Jeff and Sirbie always ate breakfast together, with Sirbie laying smack dab in the middle of the table. I'm sure it was odd for Jeff to be able to read his newspaper without having to move the paper weight known as Sirbie.

My feet will not get bitten first thing after I step out of the shower anymore. I will not administer incessant nosey rubs as I'm brushing my teeth. I will not get a laugh out of seeing a feline Elvis impersonation. I will not lie awake at night petting a cat who keeps reminding me to pet him by running a nail down the wall that's two inches from my head. Such a ruckus. So annoying. How loud that sound can be at 2am. Every time I sit down on the floor, no cat will come running to sit between my legs, purring an amazing high pitched, extremely super happy purr. And every time I walk through the door to the house, there will be no furry little four legged creature greeting me. I even expected to be greeted last night when we came back home with an empty carrier. It's just been a part of me for 17 years. It's just odd.

History: Just like Wensley, Sirbie was adopted to keep another cat company (this time it was Wensley). After Ogden's death, Wensley would howl if left in a room by herself until someone would call her and let her know that she wasn't alone. We assumed she was doing this because she was lonely or sad. Of course, she could just have been shouting because she was so happy she was the only cat. We'll never know. I asked her several times if she wanted a brother. Blink once for yes, twice for no. Instead of doing either, the darned cat turned her head each and every time and would not look at me at all. She wasn't going to give me an answer. This way, regardless of what we decided, she could always come back and say we were wrong. Afterall, she didn't say she wanted a brother. She also didn't say she DIDN'T want a brother.

After Ogden died, I registered with a Maine Coon rescue group on the web. If someone wanted to adopt a Maine Coon or if someone knew of a Maine Coon who needed a home, this was the group to contact. I saw a note go by about a cat named Sir Samuel the Brave. He was in Maryland and needed a home. His owner had to move in order to take care of her sick mother and couldn't take her cat with her. Since it had only been a week since Ogden's death, Jeff wasn't ready to adopt another cat. A few weeks later, Wensley's antics made him decide that we needed to try something to make her shut up, and the Maine Coon's adoption was accepted.

Sirbie came into our lives officially on August 31, 2003. We have to give our animals unusual names and yet names with some sort of story or meaning. I didn't think I could call him by such a formal title so Jeff shortened Sir Samuel the Brave to Sirbie (I threw the "i" in there for fun). That's Sirbie's story.

The adjustment to his new home has come slowly. Sirbie is not shy about letting people know what he likes... and what he doesn't like. He loves me; he's not too crazy about other people. He's tolerant until others try to touch him too much. Of course, if you offer him food, he'll be your best friend... until you try to touch him.

Sirbie has become comfortable enough in our house to unveil his many "Sirbie-isms." He is definitely an unusual cat with tons of different quirks. First, he absolutely loves to be carried around - by me and by me only. He insists that I carry him around for hours and even sinks his claws into my back so I can't physically put him down. I've cooked many a meal holding this fourteen and a half pound giant. I've done laundry, swept the floor, unloaded the dishwasher, checked the mail, cleaned the bathroom, talked on the phone all while carry my big baby in my arms. You might be thinking to yourself, "Just don't pick him up if you're busy!" Well, Sirbie has two ways of thwarting that. If I ignore his requests to be carried, he will climb me. He's an incredibly tall cat so he can reach my tummy by standing on his hind legs and extending his arms over his head. And once he reaches skin - the claws come out. Out of sheer need to eliminate pain in my life, I pick him up. But just as Sirbie has gotten good about climbing me, I've gotten pretty good at dodging his outstretched paws with claws. If I am successful at thwarting his attempts to be picked up, he takes matters into his own paws - and leaps straight up from the floor, directly at me. This sight of a giant feline (did I mention he has claws?) hurtling through the air at what I can only guess is 20 miles an hour (I need to clock his speed) is enough to make anyone drop whatever is in their hands and catch this ball of fur before he latches onto anything on your body that will prevent him from falling back onto the floor.

Another wonderful Sirbie-ism is his love of biting freshly washed wet feet - my feet to be precise. Sirbie likes to wait for me while I shower in the morning and a few seconds after I step foot out of the tub, he gnaws on the top of one, waits a few seconds longer, and then gnaws on the top of the other foot. Sometimes, if he's feeling particularly feisty (and he normally is since breakfast is about 20 minutes away still), he does it again. Just like his need to be picked up, I've learned how to thwart his biting efforts. I wrap a towel around my feet as soon as I get out of the tub. And just like my attempts to thwart his need to be carried around, Sirbie has learned to how to chomp on me, despite my efforts to prevent it. Instead of biting my feet, he bites the back of my leg.

Sirbie likes to greet me at the back door every time I come home. He knows the sound of the outer door opening and runs to the back of the house even before the inner door is opened. He does this any time the back door is opened, which is a particularly good burglar system. No one can try to get into the house with Sirbie knowing about it! During the typical work week, I am greeted to an explosion of cries. Sirbie has a lot to say about his day, how long I've been gone, his plans for the evening, the weather, what Wensley said or did to him, and just about anything else on his mind. He cries and cries and cries. If I happen to be later than normal, I find him staring out the back window at the carport, where my car parks when it is home. He then cries and cries and cries as I walk up the steps to the house (I assume there's sound to these cries but since the windows are closed, all I see is a mouth opening really wide several times). If he had a watch, I'm sure he'd be pointing to it and saying, "You're late!"

Sirbie and Wensley are not the best of friends and probably never will be. They both have free reign of the house and both get into "moods." Occasionally, they fight (but more than Jeff would like since they typically fight at five in the morning). They're working on it. They do like to sniff each other's faces in the morning as they wait for me to dole out their portion of a can of Fancy Feast. I suspect they're checking to make sure the other one hasn't eaten yet.