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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rasputin's Ashes

This morning we picked up Rasputin's ashes from the vet clinic. The ashes are in a small metal tin -- about four inches tall and two inches wide and with a pretty floral print stamped into the metal. It looks like a tin that might contain breath mints or little wrapped candies. The vet or crematorium had clipped a tuft of his hair, and that was in a small plastic bag attached to the little tin. The tin was nestled inside a white plastic "gift bag" that had a cat-paw print all over it and two woven handles.

The label on the bag indicates that the ashes inside belong to "Quilp." I asked my husband why he used that name, which is a nickname our son had given Rasputin when Rasputin outdid himself with mischief. (Quilp is a "bad guy" in Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop.) Apparently, my husband couldn't bring himself to say "Rasputin" (another "bad guy") to the vet clinic receptionist, and so fell back on the nickname, not realizing that Quilp was even more rascally than was Rasputin. But then the receptionist had probably never heard of the fictional Quilp (or maybe not even the historical Rasputin), so didn't realize the implications.

Now the little tin sits atop the tall book shelf in the living room and overlooks all our activities. Next to Rasputin's ashes is a small cardboard box (I've never been able to open it) that's from the pet crematorium. The box contains a tin or a small urn that holds Thomas Jefferson's ashes. (I'll write about him one of these days. He was my soulcat who died nearly three ago. I still choke up when I think about him.)

Welcome home, Rasputin!

Monday, December 12, 2011

You were greatly loved, Rasputin. R.I.P. April 15, 1992-December 12, 2011

Rasputin, our tuxedo cat, was put to sleep around 3:30 today CST. Over the weekend he had developed a nasty abscess in his mouth (a tooth?), stopped eating and drinking, and his eyes were runny. He was diabetic, arthritic, and oral surgery would have killed him for sure. We had no idea of how much pain he was in, but he used the litter box faithfully, even just before my husband put him uncomplaining into the cat carrier. He walked out of the cat carrier into the vet's arms, as if to say, "I'm ready." He will be cremated and buried in the back yard of our house that he lived in his entire life. He was 19.5 years old (human age = 92).

He was younger son Jeremy's cat. I remember well the hot, sunny summer day in July 1992 when I drove Jeremy over to his friend Adam's house to claim Rasputin (age 12 weeks). Hard to believe it's been that long. In the fall of 1993, Jeremy went off to college. Since cats hate to move, Rasputin stayed with us even when Jeremy graduated, then moved into my uncle's vacant house eight blocks away. Needing a cat in his life, Jeremy adopted a rescued cat from a shelter and named her Farrah Faucet because she like to drink running water at the sink.

The other cat in the photo above was Garfield who came to us in 1982 at maybe age six from a family whose kid was allergic to cats. We then adopted Rasputin as a kitten, and Garfield, maybe 16 at the time, died the following year. Poor Garfield! He had just wanted to sleep and veg out in his old age, but Rasputin pounced on him all the time, wanting to play.

If it hadn't been for the abscess and the runny eyes, we would have left Rasputin to probably die quietly at home. He was eating and drinking until maybe Friday, and NEVER peed/pooped anywhere except in the litter box. He started howling after Thomas Jefferson died. (That's another story.) I think Rasputin was trying to fill the void, since Thomas could be pretty vocal. 

Our house is strangely quiet tonight.