T.C, A Cat's StoryChristine B. Swanson
© Copyright 2000 by Christine B. Swanson
These are true events about our cat and I just wanted to share them with people who enjoy being around cats. He had a life, here it is or at least a shortened version of it.
If it were truly possible for a cat to claim a profession in our human world then T.C. would have been a Nurse and a darn good one. He seemed stern, but then that was just T.C. taking his cat career seriously. He had a no nonsense, lets get to work, get up and get over it, attitude about him. It would slightly annoy him if one only had a cold or the flu, and when he poised himself at the foot of your bed, slowly flicking his tail it meant self-pity was a waste of his time. So if I wasn't sure what was ailing me the odd time I took my diagnosis from this cat by his look and his tail action.
My husband had picked out this baby ball of fur from a litter that had been born in the basement of a farmhouse in Mission, British Columbia. He was a runt. His name came from his genetic makeup, a Tom Cat or a Tabby Cat. We could never really decide what the initials actually stood for but he was given the handle of "T.C", and that was what we called him for all the years that he shared quarters with us.
T.C. had no choice when we first took him home. He voiced his disagreement from the moment he left the security of his mother's warm blanketed bed and the company of his comforting siblings. He had the weakest sounding "mew" and yet then, it was his strongest "plea".
He fit snugly in the palm of my husband's hand and when the fingers were gently rolled inward to form a fist all that was left to see of T.C. were two little ears sticking out between fingers.
On the ride to his new home he disappeared underneath the dashboard of the truck. My husband actually stopped the pickup and checked the gravelled road thinking he had gotten out somehow. Then T.C. gave up his hiding place with one of his protests.
He only weighed several ounces at the time of his arrival to our home. He had the notable stripes of a tabby and a grey coat with four white socks. He sported a white patch around his mouth area and had grey whiskers mixed with a few white ones that never straightened out. He was definitely cute but had missed out on the blessings of being handsome. However, to us, he had his Kodak moments.
At first his Eyes only knew two formations, big and focused or completely closed, while napping. Then one evening something happened. While he was resting on an easy chair appearing as if he were only a tiny fur bump on an ocean sized cushion; he winked at us. Then we knew that he had accepted, approved, and had adopted us forever, or at least into the far side of eighteen years which was to be "forever", for him.
He did everything kittens normally do, he caught and tried to share mice prizes, he slept in the most incredulous places and ate from his dish while standing in the middle of it. What was unusual about him was his addiction to peppermint. He would cross the room in a flash with a couple of paws missing the floor if he thought he heard the crinkling of cellophane and there might be a mint some where. One Christmas morning, T.C. had the bow off, wrapping paper torn, box opened and was enjoying Russian mint chocolates, a present that should have been a surprise gift for us. So that was T.C, a typical cat but a peppermint thief.
Now somewhere between his Kitten hood and his Cat hood he somehow acquired Medical Knowledge. Maybe it was our new pup, a tan and black Shepherd that was afraid of loud noises And tried to run under the house of his birthplace, away from his mother. My husband reached under the crawl space of the house and picked him up and claimed this one to come home with us. He was a runt. T.C. performed nursing type duties, caring, cleaning and watching out for him. Thank goodness T.C. had someone that finally appreciated and enjoyed every morsel of furry rodent that he caught and shared. Then T.C. took the pup hunting to learn how to get his own treasures.
Maybe his skills had been natural and Mother Nature just installed in him "compassion" and "duty" so that he had a purpose in life. Some people can go through their whole lives trying to figure out who they are but not so for cats, at least it didn't seem that way for T.C.
Now it wasn't important as to how I had acquired a serious injury but I was hospitalized in Vancouver and had surgery on my back and then was placed in a partial body cast and sent home. You can either stand up or lay down with this cast so I was taken home in an ambulance lying on a stretcher. From the time of my arrival to my house and even as the ambulance was making it's way into the carport with the back up alarm sounding T.C. took right over. He who disliked mechanical monsters let alone an alarmed one, jumped into back of this vehicle as soon as the door was opened and landed right on top of me on the stretcher. He had that "look", an expression of my mother's from years past. I almost heard "what did you do now" and " just where have you been."? Then he proceeded us through the open door of the house and stopped waiting, as if giving the attendants directions on which way to go by following him. I had to stay in the downstairs guest bedroom, as it was too awkward to climb the stairs. Physically I retreated to that room and T.C. moved in with me.
This was a no nonsense ordeal and since I had his full attention I knew that I had problems. I was recuperating though but it was to be a long process. My husband was gone fourteen hours a day for work purposes and that left me alone. But then I wasn't really alone.
The first thing I learned as T.C.'s patient was never to close a door between him and myself. He would throw himself at the door and howl, cry, and scratch until I gave in and opened it. Sometimes he would sit in the bedroom doorway so that I couldn't shut it. Then when I was comfortably in bed he would come and go as he pleased. His night rounds, I guess. I learned to leave the bathroom door open too but not without a catfight first. For purposes of privacy and because there was also a cool draft coming from the kitchen that made this room uncomfortable I shut the door. That too was a mistake, So I had to leave that door open as well and took up shivering. Once I even had a notion to go upstairs to the comfort of my own bed but he blocked the bottom of the stairs and I was physically unable to step around him. I think I even asked him if he could actually read minds.
He had good bedside manners. He slept with me and kept me company and not at the foot of the bed on the soft quilt but right on top of my cast. He purred and not only was the sound relaxing but it caused a gentle vibration sensation with the cast that was very soothing. How did he know that?
Well I finally got over it and we all progressed into the next few years. We pulled up stakes and moved way up North. We brought along one protesting cat, one full sized Shepherd, a Collie and a talking Cockatiel and all went in one vehicle and we all actually survived and arrived. There was also a horse that had moved into our lives a while back and he was northward bound as well but he had his own form of transportation. So after hearing T.C.'s vocal opinion about this house for a while, he forgave us and then settled in for eleven years of medical practice in this place.
The Shepherd, the same one that T.C. taught to hunt appreciated that delicious sport. One day on the new place he hunted down what must have seemed to him to be the biggest field mouse he had ever seen. He should have however, paid more attention to his teacher because this gigantic prey attacked him and sent him home. His face was so infested with porcupine quills he couldn't even close his mouth. My husband did the needlework on him with a pair of pliers and then T.C. took over with his sandpaper tongue and nursed the wounds on his face. He cleaned and soothed and kept a watch over him. The Shepherd got sympathy, attention and lots of cat care.
Somehow in this place we seemed to have acquired more animals. T.C. didn't care too much for the larger hoofed animals and preferred the house to the barn but when he thought he was needed he made barn calls.
We had a four month old foal that had been running and had fallen and hit her head on a gate and had given herself some type of concussion. The Veterinarian thought so as well. My husband and I stayed with her trying to keep her still and calm even though she had been sedated. T.C. came down to the barn area and checked the foal over, He stood over the sleeping foal as if examining her then after a few minutes he walked away and didn't even look back at her. He didn't glance at us either. We thought that this was kind of unusual but then we were so focused on the filly that we let the incident pass. Not for long though, as we later found out that the foal had a head injury and hairline fractures in her neck and wasn't going to survive. It had taken the Veterinarian two days of examinations and treatment and x-rays to find out what T.C. seemingly figured out in his own way in about two minutes. Then it dawned on us as to why T.C. had just walked away. There was nothing that he could do. There was nothing than anyone could do. So with great devastation we lost our baby horse but found more respect for our cat.
We really didn't have any idea what it was like to actually face destination of deaths with our long time beloved pets.
The Shepherd was first; he died of old age in his sleep at the age of fourteen years. He wasn't sick. He just seemed to slow down considerably, sleeping most of the time and quietly passed away.
T.C. slowed down too, a couple of years later and that terrified us. He didn't seem to have things easy and he himself was a very bad patient. He didn't want to be nursed. He lost weight, and soon became only a shadow of his former self. He accepted a chair with a heating pad, some warm milk, soft cat food and nothing else. He took no emotional pity. Silence loomed in our home this fall for we both feared that discussions would lead to decisions. Procrastination was working for us but not for T.C. Then it became inevitable. The final day arrived bringing the final hour and minutes of T.C's life. It was a very hard decision for us to have had to make. My husband reluctantly made the trip to the Veterinary clinic.
T.C. was diagnosed as a very old and tired cat and mercifully put to sleep.
On the way to the animal hospital, T.C. climbed slowly up under the dashboard of the truck. Just like the ride that brought him into our lives, in a similar fashion it took him away from our lives. There was no protest this time. He was then brought home and buried on the farm where he had played, hunted and had carried out over half his life's work.
I am sure that every cat has a remarkable attribute or precious gift about him or her. I believe that everyone should live with or at least get to know one of these quizzical creatures. Sadly to say though, I don't think that there will ever be another T.C. I am sure that the likes of him will never come this way again, but just in case, hide the peppermints.
I would have to say that I am more of a pet person than I am a writer.The events with respect to my cat were all true incidents and I just felt like passing them on to other people who enjoy cats and also to summarize my cat's life. It is like an unspoken eulogy. I am a Canadian Citizen living in northern British Columbia, Canada. I work full time and hobby farm on my days off. I have an abundance of animals with each having their own life story but unfortunately I don't seem to have enough time to write about them.
I am not really an author although I like to sometimes write about something that has impressed me and in this case this cat had done just that.
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