Friday, March 1, 2013


Today is Eleanor the cat's 17th birthday.

Seventeen years. Wow. I opened a can of yummy canned food and let her have at.

I adopted Eleanor and her litter mate, Henry, in Las Vegas so many years ago. They were 4 months old when I got them in July and so I decided many years later that their birthday would be March 1. 

Fast forward from Las Vegas to Oklahoma where we lived for a long time. Where she had been a shrinking violet, she suddenly was able to sleep uninterrupted on my lap while I wrote papers.  As sweet and loving and silly as Henry was, he never would allow her to have my undivided attention; he was jealous and possessive of me and would sleep under the covers in winter.  At 21 pounds, he kept me warm for many years.  Henry died a few years ago from being fat and lazy (fatty liver disease) and Eleanor seemed to bloom.  She could get attention from me without her mean old brother trying to beat the crap out of her. Now she crawls under the covers in winter just like he used to and purrs and purrs to herself.  But if you call out for Henry, she gets wide-eyed and nervous and looks around for him. 

In her younger years she chased bugs and occasionally snuck out of the house to eat grass.  It always made her throw up.  Later, she would occupy the window, flicking her whiskers and involuntarily meowing slightly at the birds she so wanted to catch and eat.  Her one opportunity to do so was thwarted by those birds, who instead chased her back to the house between my feet, shaking and cowering, where she was safe.  Poor failed huntress.  Those birds never let her forget it either.

She's never caught a mouse.  She doesn't even like spiders.  Or dust.

In fact, if Eleanor were a human she would only be good at drinking, smoking and ordering in restaurants. 

That's fine with me.  She is a wonderful companion for me.  All I ask is that she keep me company from time to time, that she only poop in a small square space (my part of the deal is to keep that clean) and that she live as long as possible to provide continuity in my life. She does her part remarkably well. 

The added bonus is that she has apparently won over my husband, Grey.  He isn't allergic to her.  This is a minor miracle since he is allergic to all cats. Except, I guess, her. Not a sniffle or scratchy face. They're pals, even if they have had to hammer out their own relationship without me. She's the best non-human friend I have ever had. Don't tell Big Dogg I said that.

In January of 2008, she climbed in the car with me for a 4-day odyssey over mountain passes (a four cylinder pulling a trailer? Really?) in a move from Oklahoma to Washington.  We slid off the road a few times and were forced off once by a huge truck.  But we made it.  She's great in hotels. We did the whole thing in reverse eight months later, moving back to Oklahoma so I could pursue my doctorate.  And back to Washington in September. 

When I don't feel well or when I am just out of sorts, she comes to sit quietly nearby or snuggle up.  Before I met Grey, I'd have a fight with some boyfriend and there she would be.  We would sit and write together, or she would bump the book I was reading, or lay on the papers I was trying to grade.  And sometimes she wakes me up in the middle of the night for a drink of water. I don't mind those idiosyncrasies. Grey is remarkably tolerant. In fact, I think he gives her yogurt on a regular basis.  He is also really warm, and she like cuddling up to him in these cold months. I do too.

Eleanor has already exceeded the 12-15 year expected life span of an indoor cat, which she has always been. She takes prednisone and metrocloprimide twice a day, religiously.  OK, I poke it down her throat religiously.  Otherwise, her arthritis and twitchy tummy would have killed her by now.  As it is, she has a healthy coat, the ability to RUN up and down the stairs and a healthy kitty ego that makes her think she is the center of the world. Since we don't have kids, she kind of is the center of my world right now. Yes, my 80-year-old cat is a hoot.

If you asked her, she would probably tell you that she's just getting warmed up and that she will live well into her 30s in people years. All I can say is that I hope she keeps hitting the litter box I am glad.

Happy Birthday to the orneriest cat I know.  <3 p="">


  1. Proud to say Eleanor has afforded me the opportunity to pet her on more than one occasion. Very cool cat indeed.

  2. Happy belated birthday to Eleanor.
    She has done what I thought was impossible - made Grey a kitty daddy!