Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our cat named Matt

"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat." - Mark Twain

Our lives with Matt started on a warm Colorado spring day back in 1992.

We had been hearing the meows on and off coming from the overgrown field behind our neighbors house. With the number of alley cats that were in the hood we first didn't think to much of it as we went about our normal routines.

However the meows became more pronounced and after a few days of hide and seek we found the culprit. At first we couldn't understand what we were looking at as the cat in the field was partially bald and had large weird mounds and/or balls of matted fur on the none bald parts of his body. We feared that the cat was diseased and in extremely poor health.

After a few more days and the lure of food we managed to get a good look at the cat and we could see that the bald areas were created by large mats of fur that formed and were pulling the fur from various parts of his body. He was skinny and very skittish and would only come to the food after we had backed away.

As many people do we decided to help this cat get back on its feet.

From then on Debi would go out to the lot each day to feed the cat. Often she'd sit for an hour or so and just talk to him. He started looking forward to her visits and slowly but surely he came closer as Debi gained his trust. We surmised that his mistreatment had to of been bad and we had no idea how long he had been wandering the area, where he came from or when he might have been dumped.

It took over three months before the cat would allow Debi to touch it.

Upon being able to touch him we found that the mats were massive, thick, and very tight against the skin. It seemed that any handling of him was appreciated but somewhat painful due to the mats. After more time had passed and trust was being achieved we attempted to cut some of the mats away but he resisted our attempts. So we went to the vet and got kitty valium and accomplished the deed without any complications. Well, there were a few nicks to his skin but as I said the mats were very tight against his skin.

After the mats were removed and he had a few days to get used to not being restricted by the mats we took him to the vet. There was a bit of stress with the cat carrier and the car ride but thank goodness it was less than a mile.

We found out from the vet that he was a Maine coon cat and overall his health was fair. The vet determined that he was between seven and ten years of age. We decided that we'd go with the seven year old estimate as everyone including cats want to be younger! LOL! While there he received the normal host of shots for parasites and vitamins to help jump start his recovery. His teeth were in terrible condition and all but his canines and two others were pulled due to infections and abscesses. Of course the teeth were pulled at a later appointment.

As the weeks and months passed he worked his way into our hearts and our home. We decide to name him Matt because of all the fur mats that we had had to remove.

We decided that his birthday would be January 1st. Everyone needs a day to celebrate their birth and why not at the birth of each year.

Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose. - Garrison Keillor

He was mostly an outside cat but certainly was welcome inside. He would come inside quite often but never stayed too long. Of course as time passed that changed as well.

He learned to use the swinging doggie door very quickly and without our assistance. We were surprised the first time we found him sitting in the middle of the living room floor and we hadn't let him in.

On numerous occasions we would hear cats fighting and we'd go out to see if it was Matt. There were very few times that he was ever involved in a cat fight, at least that we knew about. Mostly when we would go out to check we would find the fight but Matt would be sitting off to one side just watching. Also on numerous occasions we'd see the other cats from the hood come up to him and they would check each other out but not fight. It was one of those things that always made us go hmmmmmmmm and a question that never got answered. We had to assume that he was just a good diplomat or possibly he had proved himself enough times so he was sort of like 'Fonzie'! LOL!

The years passed and Matt provided us with companionship and lots of kitty love. He was a lap lover and his favorite place was with you on the chair or couch with his front paws and head on your lap.

As Matt aged our Colorado winters found him sleeping on the heating pad on our couch. He and Debi both despised the cold weather.

Towards the end of 2004 he started loosing his hearing but it never slowed him down. We could always get his attention by stomping on the floor of our wood frame house. He would feel the vibration and come to see what was up. This behavior was more often than not rewarded by either a brushing or a treat.

When we moved to Mexico in 2006 he was totally deaf. Of course, after the move, we could no longer stomp on the floor and get his attention! LOL! We're sure that he felt that we moved just for him as his arthritis had been getting worse and heat was the best thing for him. Almost immediately he found that the patio provided immense heat and it became his favorite place to be. As the next few years passed the heat of Mexico became even more welcome. There were times that we could hardly pick him up off the patio and hold him because he was so hot. He loved the patio.

We're sure that our move to MX prolonged his existence and allowed for him to have a better life. We can only hope that it will do the same for us!

Aging for Matt brought with it more severe arthritis in his old joints especially in his hips. His eyes developed cataracts and he developed what we refered to as "kitty alzheimers".

As the cataracts grew bigger his eye sight got worse and he started walking into things. First door frames and chair legs but it slowly got worse. His balance was off and with the advanced arthritis he couldn't scratch without falling over. His personal hygiene fell off as well. However, he never forgot where the litter box or his food dish was located! Oh, and he never confused them! LOL!

Our combined quality of life together slipped to a point where we, with the opposable thumbs, had to make the decision to end our relationship. Never a good time, never the best part of the relationship and rarely is there as much love and heart wrenching that goes on in ones life as when this decision must be made.  Nevertheless the decision was made.

To our beloved Matt, we hope that your kitty toys never stop smelling like catnip, that your food bowl is always full, and that a lap is always there to lay your head upon! You deserve no less.

Matt Kuhn
Born: January 1, 1985
Died: May 15, 2010

No amount of time can erase the memory of a good cat, and no amount of masking tape can ever totally remove his fur from your couch. - Leo Dworken


Cherie said...

I'm sitting here crying at the loss of a long-lived, loved companion. As difficult at the decision was, you made the right decision to be his friend, then the right decision to euthanize him. Our condolences to two excellent, loving caregivers,
Cherie and Greenwood

Gloria said...

Oh Tom, that was so beautiful. What a beautiful tribute. My eyes filled with tears. I am so sorry for your loss but Matt is now with his momma in heaven looking down upon you and saying to you, "Daddy, your were the best.Oh, so was Mama." :) Take care and be happy with the beautiful memories.

PaulaD said...

Oh Matt we are thinking of you with tears in our eyes truely. You were a rare cat indeed and kitty heaven will be pleased to get you....

Nice blog Tom well's always a sad time when we have to deal with our pets....from one with two 16 going on 17 year old dogs and an old cat too as you well know. XX

roni said...

I would read that to our two older cat brothers if they would let me.

They will move to Mexico with us.


Beth said...

I didn't know Matt, but I feel lucky to have been able to get a glimpse of him through your post. It sounds like he added something to your lives that no-one else, animal or person, could have. It also sounds like he lived the life cats (and most of us!) dream of after giving you the privilege of being his people.
"It is difficult to obtain the friendship of a cat. It is a philosophic animal - one that does not place its affections thoughtlessly."-Theophile Gautier
It sounds to me as if Matt made a wise choice when he chose you! And, you made the right choice as well.

Linda Dorton said...

Geez, Tom, that was beautifully written. I ended up sobbing. Poor old Matt. From his beginnings though, he got lucky and had wonderful pet protectors *a human mom and dad* who gave him a beautiful long happy life. It is always sad to have to put a cat friend down, but it is the only option, the absolute best decision, just the most difficult one. I feel for you guys.

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado said...

I never knew Matt when he was young but as an older gentleman, I thought he had the longest legs and I noticed how he seemed to tip-toe his way from room to room in the home he shared with Tom and Debi. I could see he was a very content old alpha cat who had been blessed to live well into his dotage. We are sorry when a life like his ends but we are also glad we had the time we did to be taught by his brave, gamely example.

Tom and Debi said...

The heart heals faster when there are warm loving thoughts from caring people! Thank you all so much!

Jonna said...

I too was crying as I read this wonderful eulogy for Matt. I also only knew him as an older gentleman but his presence was commanding even in his dotage. What a blessing for all of you to share these years together. I've always said if there is reincarnation I wanted to come back as one of my cats, now I'm also open to returning as one of your cats. He had a spectacular life with you two and a peaceful exit, a life well lived.

Patti said...

Oh Tom and Debi,
I am more than sorry. Matt was such a comfort to the both of you for many years. he looked so very much better when I was there a few weeks ago than when I was there in Feb. I believe that he certainly had nine lives. We are without pets now since we had our Cocoa of 15 years put down in July last. We loved our pets so very much that we have decided we can not have any more. The pain of loss is just more than we believe we can endure.
I love you guys...take care

Paul said...

Tom (and Debi), I just read your post re: Matt. (Tom, you are kind of an irregular poster so I only check your blog every now and then.)

La Dulce and my thoughts are with you both. It wasn't that long ago that we were sitting outside with you on your patio when your dog started barking and Tom shone his flashlight in the pool and we saw Mattie swimming her way toward safety after apparently having fallen in. She was a remarkable being and member of your family.

suk said...

Tom & debi, I cried for u but I cried all the time, when our pt died on us but he will not have no more pain & will be in heaven. Sorry for your loss, it just like a lost own child, I experienced it myself so I know how you feel. Well, I am exciting for your visiting here so cheer up. Love suk