Sorry to have missed my usual Monday posting. Life has been crazy.
I’m dedicating this week’s post to my cat, Renfield.
Ren came into my life in April of 2001. I moved in with my boyfriend with one cat, Pork. My friend’s cat had gotten pregnant and had a litter of extremely adorable kittens. I convinced my fiance, Buddha, that we needed a second cat. A kitten from this litter could be *his* kitty. He could chose the kitten and name it. Okay, maybe this was more of a ploy for me to have a 2nd cat.
We were both excited when we met the kittens. Despite having a small eye infection, Renfield came right up to us to say hello. He was a tiny bundle of grey fur. He was a charmer from the start, with no fear of life what so ever. Buddha decided to name the kitten after the crazy assistant to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. We brought him home once his infection was treated, and right away he was up to kitten shenanigans. He was always climbing things. He tried to nurse from me once in my sleep. He sneaked out once overnight and came home with a tender bottom and suspicious sniffs from the other household cats. I suspect he got his first dose of prison love from a big, burly Tomcat on the outside. The cats worked as a team to capture and mangle a large grasshopper, and left the sloppy remains for me as a trophy. He made me laugh, he frustrated me, he was loved.
One day, when the cat was about 2 years old, we were sitting around the apartment and he was no where to be seen for the evening. This is unusual behavior for the little grey shadow, always wanting to be where the people are (and thusly the action is). I sought him out and found him hiding under the bed. When I touched his abdomen he let out a pitiful meow of pain. It was late in the evening, so we had to take him to for an emergency veterinary visit. His urethra had blocked with pH crystals. We didn’t have the money for him to stay overnight, so they flushed him and we took him home. He soon blocked again and we had to take him back. By the time it was all said and done, we spent nearly a grand of borrowed money to save the cat.
At this time, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me emotionally. The cat had to be isolated for a couple of days before he was returned to the populous of the home. Renfield and I spent an entire weekend in my bedroom watching The Royal Tenenbaums. We bonded that weekend and he’s been my boy ever since. Generally speaking, if I’m in the room, his preference is my lap. If I’m home, he is usually not far behind. My love for him cemented as I stared into those gold eyes with white eyeliner, with my heart broken, that weekend. He was my guy, too. Often I refer to Renfield by the nickname Stinky Pete, which came from the Cartoon Network Adult Swim show Sealab 2021.
At one point the relationship with the fiance ended. He moved to New York. We still owed money to my mother for his vet visit. So I looked at Buddha sternly and said, “I hope you don’t think you’re taking that cat with you.” He didn’t fight me on it. As much as he also loved Ren, I had a stable home that he was situated in and Buddha was moving in with his new girlfriend. So keep the cat I did. I continued to feed him his prescription food as often as I could afford it, and make sure he had a warm bed, and boobs to cuddle up to (he is still overtly fond of kneading my chest until I start scratching his chin, and then he’ll settle down for a good petting session).
When times got tough and I had to move back into my mother’s house, my landlord/roommate at the time cared for the cats for a while (with funds I sent on a regular basis). Initially I couldn’t move the cats into my mother’s house because of her allergies, even though she loves them dearly. Eventually the friend caring for the cats began making plans to move to Florida, and there was a panic about where the cats were going to live. My mother made the concession that the cats could stay in the basement. On occasion I would sneak them into my bedroom to spend more time with them.
Renfield has won the hearts of friends and strangers by being the one to greet you when you come in the door. At a recent New Year’s Eve party, he literally walked into the middle of crowded rooms and sat as if to say, “Hello, thanks for coming to my party. Who wants to pet kitty?” He made no qualms with being passed around for petting and generally being fawned over.
Renfield is also an excellent model, and doesn’t mind terribly my penchant for dressing the cats up for “holiday fun”.
In the time that Ren’s been back with me, he’s had pH crystals on the other end of the pH scale and sometimes occasional colds, etc. His health has always been the tricky, silent issue. He’s had allergic reactions to plastic feeding bowls and most recently, since he has officially hit the “senior stage” of his life, he has started to lose some of his kidney function. His teeth have always been healthy, but most recently it appears that there are some that will need pulled and his vet and I agree that we should address this before his kidneys get to the weakened state that makes surgery extreme difficult. As it is he’ll have to stay over night to receive fluids.
Financially this is going to be difficult. I work for a non-profit, which means I don’t bring home the big bucks. I’m an artist, but that generally makes no money at all. So at the suggestion of friends, I created a WeFund page for Renfield and his dental surgery:
As a reward for helping this outgoing, loving, quirky tabby cat, I will personally create artwork as outlined in the rewards on the link. But I’m also open to negotiation for donors of all levels. Any thing can help and if you can’t contribute, spreading the good word is also helping.
These days, Renfield is still the cat that goes on random running sprees and has learned how to break into the cabinet despite my addition of Velcro to the door. He likes to poke his head out of the vinyl cube in the corner and has a fascination with the bathtub bordering on obsessive. He makes me laugh every day. He’s a big guy with a tiny, almost silent, meow.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for anything you can do for a poor artist and the general love of cats. Ren would thank you with loud purrs and kneading your chest with his large paws, if he could.