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Our Mensa Cat

I grew up as a "Dog Person." We began rescuing homeless stray and feral cats when our son found a 3 week old abandoned kitten who had 2 dislocated front paws, who we took in and took her to the vet to treat. She grew up with splints on her legs. The next year, we found a feral cat who had 3 kittens in our garage... and we became "Cat People" .. We kept feeding the homeless and feral cats in our backyard, and one day a young Russian Blue showed up to eat. While the cats usually had a pecking order on who got to eat first, second, third, etc, our intrepid guy would hiss and spit and chase the others away from the food dish so he could eat. I named him Pike after the fish that takes over lakes, since that seemed appropriate. One day my wife let him into the house, and he sat on her side of the couch. Not wanting to get attached right away, she would put him out at night, but he would wait by the door in the morning to be let in and he eventually became an indoor cat. As soon as he knew that he was safe, he would cuddle up next to me and chose me as his "person" ...which continued for 12 1/2 short years. Pike was very inquisitive and was able to open all of the kitchen cabinets even though they had childproof locks on them. He opened sliding glass and screen doors, so we learned to keep those locked at all times and had to put a box of weights in front of the attic access door in the bathroom to keep him out of that as well. He took all cabinets and doors as challenges and became our "Mensa" cat for how smart he was. Pike was wary of other people but loved my wife and me. I was his person; he would cuddle up in my arms several times a day and sleep next to me at night. Of course it was me that he would talk to early in the morning when it was time to be fed as we learned the word "Crepuscular." He would also leap onto the counter to ensure that his food was being prepared to his specifications, as well as for the occasional treat. Eventually, as he got to know who our regular friends and relatives were, he became more trusting and would allow others to pet him. Pike had an older "sister"; one of the original 3 kittens that were born in our garage and was half his size, and he bossed her around as his namesake indicated. He didn't like anyone else getting his attention. One late evening just before Valentine's Day,I noticed that he wasn't well and had begun mouth-breathing. I rushed him to the emergency vet where we discovered that he was suffering with Congenital Heart Failure, a blood clot on his left ventricle, and had to have 600 mls of fluid drained from his chest. He had to have more drained in the morning as he fought for life and for the first week it was touch and go. He had such a sweet personality that he would let the vets insert the needle to drain the fluid without fuss (except for one new tech who made the mistake of shaving him first and he let her know how indignant he was at that). He began a regimen of having to have numerous medications 3 times a day, which he took without complaint, so we could dissolve the blood clot. His head vet was so impressed with his calm demeanor and began telling parents of other cats with the same disease that if they were as good as Pike was they would be better. As we got to know 2 of the 164 pet cardiologists in the world along with his other specialists, they all grew to love him and kept trying new treatments as he came down with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He got his own Walgreens Prescription plan and we took pains to limit his ability to exert his heart by blocking off stairs etc, and monitored his breathing so that we would know when it was time to get fluid extracted again. The average life expectancy for this disease, not to mention the clot, is 122 days . We were able to enjoy his company and love for 2 additional Christmases and then some. Late in February we took him in for an Xray and to have fluid drained and dark spots were found. It was found to be cancer. He had beaten back the heart disease, but couldn't beat this. Unfortunately, his valiant vet Dr Sue Marshall, who had been a true hero in his treatments, passed away from cancer exactly 1 week before he did. We miss them both to this day, and they will always be in our hearts. RIP Pike and Dr Sue.

Ken Peterson