Our friend Poirot, the strangest cat on earth, has left us.
He was proof that black and white cats are different (consider his way of lounging on my chair).
He had a "different" personality that sustained him for 15 years until congestive heart failure turned him into not much more than hide, hair and skeleton. His body got thinner, but his face was still majestic -- growing out of his black cheeks, a set of white whiskers that could have been curb feelers on a high-dollar postwar Cadillac.
He was named for Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Why? Because Poirot the Cat was a curious fellow and also had a distinctive moustache!.
We had to let him go Friday afternoon, just about the time rush hour and sunset were colliding in Dallas. He was a loving cat all the way to the end. I almost cannot write about him without breaking down -- he loved to flop on me while I watched TV. He loved to flop on Martha while she slept in the recliner in front of the TV. She would often wake and find herself nearly nose-to-nose with an odd black cat staring right into her eyes.
At the end, we held him and petted his soft coat until his damaged heart stopped -- we'd nursed him along for about 7 months after he was diagnosed. He'd had his chest drained once a month and endured twice-daily dosings of medicines.
But nothing can defeat mortality.
Better to help him along before he was in total stress and debilitating agony, we figured. Better this way than having him suffer a stroke in the middle of the night and not be found in a desperate state until morning. Better that than to have him suffer a heart attack while he was doing something simple like drinking water. Better that than to have his "discomfort" graduate to intense, awful pain.
This way he did not suffer total indignity -- cats don't like that.
He was a cat with a giant, positive personality -- happy to make the acquaintance of anybody: other cats, dogs, people.
And he had a giant, querying yowl -- Martha thinks it always ended in a question mark -- that he happily used at all hours as he'd either enter or leave a room.. He also used it to announce that he was coming down the hall or, maybe, just to practice getting humans to jump up and ask, "What's wrong?" And he enjoyed being silent, too. There was no discernible pattern to his life -- except to be there if you needed him. He was extremely pettable..
Martha brought him into the house. She was a petsitter at the time. One of her clients called and said, "Hey, there's this kitten in our bathroom." She stopped by and discovered they'd been keeping the little frisky kitten busy with assorted toys. As far as we can remember, that was the last time he actually played with any cat toys. From then on he played with the other cats and dogs and humans in our house.
When he was about 3 or 4, we took a brief vacation to Chicago for my nephew Aaron's bar mitzvah. We boarded all of our animals (and we stayed in cheap motels). The dogs didn't seem to mind. Neither did the other five cats..
But a few days after our return, Poirot had lost a noticeable amount of weight -- when someone loses weight in our household, it is cause for alarm. Martha took the rascal to our vet who sent him to a specialist who ran a bunch of tests. The sonogram involved shaving a square patch on his right side. He seemed to love it.
And he always charmed the staff with his demeanor and grace.
The vet said the sonogram and the other tests showed no identifiable problem. He was an inexplicable cat. So, Martha wrote a check for all the testing. "As soon as I signed the check for the sonogram," she said, "Poirot stood up and acted as if nothing had happened and as if he'd never been sick at all. He was just teaching us not to leave him in boarding again."
After that, the shaved patch on his black side grew back pure white -- we took it as a reminder not to board him again.
For the rest of his life, until springtime 2008, he had no medical problems. Just a great, strong boy cat who got along with every other animal in the house.
It was not unusual to hear him running through the house toward the living room where he'd leap onto my computer desk, then bounce up onto the valance over the living room window. He'd creep to the other end, then, with nowhere else to go, he'd carefully back up all the way and fling himself off onto the desk, bounce to the floor and race off. It was just something he did.
Martha's theory is that he was on Earth because "his people had not come back to get him." He did seem somewhat intergalactic. You'd catch him sitting and staring -- as if he were listening to a radio broadcast from another star system.
(In these photos you can see the robust Poirot, then, on the right, with Annabelle Bob in the background, you can see the frail little guy. Bless his heart.)
Poirot liked to be up somewhere -- on top of the TV, on a shelf, on the back of a chair.
And, when he was a young adult, we had six-foot high bookshelves on either side of the bed.
One evening I was on the bed and reading. Flat on my back, book held up over my face, just me in an old shirt and some sweat pants -- no protective gear.
I sort of knew that Poirot was on top of the bookshelf but I wasn't paying attention until he decided to leap down. I never saw him in flight, but I felt the landing.
Martha said the cry I emitted was unlike anything she'd ever heard from a human.
Yes, that is just one of the many reasons I'll remember our Poirot. (He didn't even mind being Annabelle Bob's pillow through the years.)
He was an adventure every day of his life. We were blessed to have been along for the adventures/
Oh, and here's one more thing; This cat didn't particularly enjoy eating until about 5 months ago when, in an attempt to put some weight on his dwindling frame, we introduced him to canned cat food. Suddenly, he was a gourmet. He'd try it all. I saw him patentily using one nail on a front paw to pick pieces of shrimp out of a food called "Salmon & Shrimp Feast." When I offered him an all-shrimp cat food, he sampled it, then ignored it and waited for the "Salmon & Shrimp Feast" to reteurn to the menu.
We were never able to figure him out -- probably, being figured out wasn't his mission. The mission was for this spacey cat to study his humans and, in the end, remind them of just how much love they'd found while in the company of a strange cat from another planet.