Monday, February 14, 2011

To my Ashke: Happy Birthday

Ash is 16 years old today.
It seems that time has flown by so fast, and I feel blessed that he is still with me.

It is actually his estimated birthday, as his cage information at the Denver Dumb Friends League said that he was four months old. Valentine's Day was a fitting birthday however, as his name means "beloved". He's reciprocated fittingly, as he is a momma's boy who loves only me. This is not to say he is aggressive with other people. He tolerates them, and is largely indifferent, unless he is trying to notify somebody that it is feeding time. His trilling mew, purr, and happy kneading are reserved for me.

I had waited over 15 years to get a cat when I picked him out at the shelter. He would meow back at me when I talked to him and chase my fingers across the Plexiglas front of his cage. During the wait for an adoption counselor, I was irrationally frightened that somebody would try to adopt him before I could. Once we were in the adoption room, he climbed all over me.

He was large for a four month old kitten, almost cat size. Perhaps this explains why nobody had yet scooped him up. He grew into a large cat, fully three feet long from nose tip to tail tip, although I do truthfully have to say that he has a very long tail. At his top weight he was about 14 pounds, and he never got fat like so many pet cats do. Now that he is 16, he has lost some of that muscle mass and weight.

I think Ashke is an unusual cat because he is very responsive and easily trainable. I taught him to use the scratching post by plucking him off the couch when he started scratching it. I'd them stick him onto the scratching post and scratch it myself. He would happily pounce on the post and have a scratch fest. After a few repetitions, he left the couch alone and went straight to his scratching post.

He's also amazingly responsive to verbal cues. I can actually call him off if he is annoyed and smacking Chandler over the head for being a mischievous dog. Unfortunately Ashke and Chandler get a bit jealous of each other. I'm fairly sure Ashke thought I went insane when I introduced an uncouth puppy into the household. He probably made puppy raising a little bit easier for me, because he enforced the "no dogs on the furniture" rule better than I could, and also instituted a "no zooming in the apartment" rule. He didn't need to swat Chandler for this; fourteen pounds of annoyed grumbling cat jumping to the floor was usually enough to quash things.

He's aged a bit since then. He's gotten a bit creaky, and is no longer as agile as he used to be. He's had a few health crises, which have thankfully turned out to be treatable. Most of the time he'd prefer to be curled up on the bed, even if I am offering a half hour escorted outing into the backyard. He seems to have decided that being a housecat is the best of lives.

Who am I to argue with that?
Happy Birthday Ashke. I love you.

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