Thursday, November 15, 2007

RIP Alpha Cat, 1989-2007

Pretty Lady regrets to inform you that the Alpha Cat passed away this morning at 8:30 AM. In his honor, she is re-posting this profile. He will be missed.


It has been Pretty Lady's long-held view that pet stories, not to mention pet photos, are best confined within the nuclear family. She feels that outsiders are rarely likely to appreciate or understand the nuances of pet personality, and there is nothing she fears more than Being a Bore.

But, in light of recent popular demand, she will break the ironclad rule of a lifetime, and present The Alpha Cat.

Please to ignore the cheap, ugly flower pots in the background; they contain as-yet un-sprouted poppy seeds. Fire escape photo sessions are, of necessity, less than ideal.

Pretty Lady was adopted by the Alpha Cat in Austin, Texas in the summer of 1989. A Mexican vet once asked her what kind of cat he was, and how much she'd had to pay for such a superb feline specimen; she replied, "Simplemente llegó, un día." ("He simply arrived, one day.") The vet declared, "Que suerte." ("What luck.") Yes, indeed.

Astute calculators will remark upon the fact that the Alpha Cat will be at least seventeen, roughly, this summer. Other people's cats generally are showing some signs of wear and tear at such an advanced age, such as big unsightly tumors, urinary tract blockages, gray hair, thyroid conditions, kidney conditions, emaciation, death, and lack of interest in tearing around the house, chasing Brats. (The Brat is another story. We will save him for another, distant, day.) One must note that the Alpha Cat, so far, appears relatively un-ravaged by time.

Pretty Lady has no explanation for this, except that at times she suspects the Alpha Cat of being a Buddha, his consciousness occasionally appearing to transcend the normal limits of space and time. Either that, or he escaped from a genetic research lab at the University, which is not impossible either.

Ordinarily the splendidity of the Alpha Cat's fur and demeanor are difficult to photograph. Magnificent as he is in person, in photos he usually comes out looking like a random, undifferentiated bundle of fluff. Pretty Lady thinks these photos are rather better than usual, despite the ugly flower pots.

The Alpha Cat has accompanied Pretty Lady upon innumerable journeys, both of the mind and the body; he has flown in planes, he has ridden cross-country in trucks, buses, and a Buick (sprawled at his leisure over the seat back, interestedly observing the landscape.) He has acquired numerous dramatic and disgusting abscesses, brawling with oversized raccoons in the ghetto. Once in Mexico, Pretty Lady had to leave him with friends for a few months, and in her absence he went Over the Wall, and hung out in dark corners with the Mexican alley cats. Pretty Lady's friends were forced to perform an Intervention.

In all these myriad adventures, he has always maintained a high standard of politesse, if not always dignity. (One of his favorite postures, particularly in his younger days, was to lie on his back, half-propped against a wall, so that his oceanic stomach displayed itself like Humpty Dumpty's.) When introduced to another cat, he is invariably courteous; he sits upright and peaceful, eyes wide, and psychically indicates the intention, "How do you do. I am the Alpha."

If the other animal is equally courteous, the two of them get along like a house afire. If not--if the wretched creature is psychotic, and yowls indecencies at him, or has the fatuous chutzpah to challenge his Alpha-hood, he demonstrates a world-weary contempt for the creature, and takes him out. "Look, I GAVE you a chance," you can hear him thinking. "Shut up already. You bore me."

In terms of human kindness, let us just say that the Alpha is largely unsurpassed by most humans of Pretty Lady's acquaintance. He has always had the sense of when Pretty Lady has had a particularly horrible day, and on these occasions he takes care to sleep by her head, purring like a factory of sewing machines. During one or two severe break-ups, he performed the role of Feline Dishrag with infinite patience and aplomb.

Pretty Lady is sure she has not come close to plumbing the depths of the Alpha Cat's psyche; she humbly realizes that he is most likely being patient with her. After seventeen years, she hardly knows him.


Desert Cat said...

I'm sorry.

Rachel's dog is dying now too. I just had to shed a few tears over all this.

Yes, he was old and his time had come. But a cat as magnificent as Alpha Cat? Well he'll be precious to you forever.

Chris Rywalt said...

My condolences. I realize I've been picking on cat lovers over in that other thread, but here I will seriously extend my sympathy. I was the only one in my family who sat with and petted one of our cats as he was put to sleep; I was the one who buried another one of our cats after she'd been killed by the neighbor's boxer. And both times I cried like a baby. I do like cats.

Pretty Lady said...

Yes, DC, he was truly extraordinary. Irreplaceably so. I doubt I will be adopting any other cats any time soon.

Chris, it's like there's your mouth, which is a hardened cynic, and the rest of you, which isn't.

G.F. and I took turns sleeping on the couch with the Alpha last night, and both of us cried copiously at the vet's office. G.F. was my Rock. He'll miss the Alpha as much as I will.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
Chris, it's like there's your mouth, which is a hardened cynic, and the rest of you, which isn't.

It's more like, I contain multitudes. Hm, I've heard that somewhere before....

Mary Klein said...

I'm so sorry, Pretty Lady. Alpha sounds like he was truly an incredible friend. Please accept my condolences.

Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady,

I empathize with your grief and wish you peace. It's so difficult to lose a friend who has been through so much with you.


Carla said...

So sorry. What a handsome guy.

Susan Constanse said...

Oh, PL, I'm so sorry. He looks like a heartbreaker. Please hold onto GF.

Jean said...

I found you through Desert Cat.

My sincere condolences on the loss of your beautiful cat. I have been through that... too many times.

Doom said...

I am truly saddened by your loss, PL. And yet, I am very pleased you were graced for so long, as well. I do believe you will cavort in more favorable climes, in time. If that is perhaps meaningless now, then know I share some small part of your pain.

Blessings and
Kind Thoughts,

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, you will miss him. None of them are ever replaceable...but a really good pet, dog or cat, makes it easy to love another. You see, they've trained you to love, and it comes easier.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

You will miss him for a long time--your house will not seem the same, the air inside will be different. Then one day you'll discover the void has almost filled.

As I told k, I believe if any of us have eternal lives, ALL of us do, cats and dogs and elephants and bees....etc etc etc

Anonymous said...

To lose a companion and friend is always difficult. My sympathies on your loss.


Chris C. said...

My condolences, Pretty Lady.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. My your memories be some comfort.

Anonymous said...

Sorry he died, but I still dislike cats....

Tracy Helgeson said...

So sorry Pretty Lady. I know just how you feel, I had to put my two "college" cats down about ten years ago and I still think about them and their quirky ways.

Granny J said...

Alpha Cat lived long and well, in good, loving company. Now he rests, except for the memories. I'm sorry that you lost him.

Anonymous said...

So sorry Pretty Lady. He sounds like a very special cat.


The Aardvark said...

Splendidity, indeed!

I'm so sorry he is no longer with you.
Should you come our way , you are surely welcome to a 'Bama kitty.

Not to be confused with a Gamma kitty.

We have many to spare at Chez Aardvark.

Be well.