Maddie is one of a few breeding females that my mom and sister had when they were breeding (non-purebred) Siamese variants many many many years ago, during a time where it was not uncommon to have 10 to 15 cats in the house at once (10 to 12 of which were kittens). It was like living in the kitten department at a really cool pet store that let you play with the babies all day.
But that all ended nearly 20 years ago.
This might perk some ears. 20 years ago? But what of Maddie?
Well, Maddie was one of the second or third generation of breeding females, which puts her around 20 years old, if not older.
And yes, she's still around.
When she had thrown enough kittens, she was 'retired' from the strains of being a baby factory. She lived a quiet life for quite some time, and then she moved out of the house. For a while, she lived in the garage, then she became a full time outdoor cat. This was mostly her choice. There's a pet door in the house and she knows how to use it, so she can come in when'er she wants... she just doesn't want that often.
She's always been a fixture around the yard, sleeping on the back porch, or out in the barn. But she's nearly 20 years old, and the Family didn't want to see her on the porch on a rainy day, so they made her a special house. It's a large Tupperware container, of the type you get in the organization section of Target (that's tar-Zhay) with a door cut into the side. It was lined with old towels, and her food bowl sat right outside of it. Maddie used to spend most of her days on the back porch, looking up when people walked by and asking quietly for a skritch, which I was always happy to oblige her with. She would nuzzler her head into my hand, purr a stuttered, airy purr and then meowl raspily (much like Katherine Hepburn) in thanks when it was over.
Last time I was home, Maddie had developed a tumor on the side of her face. Understandable for a cat her age. It was a decent sized lump, but at 20+ years, surgery to remove it would have been senseless. It wasn't causing her pain or discomfort, nor was it interfering with her eating.
When I got home today, Maddie had been moved inside. She's got a little apartment set up in the Ironing Closet. The closet is doorless, but there's a little gate there to keep her in so she doesn't accidentally pee anywhere she's not supposed to.
I stopped in to see her this afternoon, and the tumor has grown significantly. It's covering most of the left side of her face now, and the hair on it has fallen off. Hence the title of this post. Her eye is mostly untouched (but it's not quite as wide open as the other) and she still doesn't seem to be in any pain.
Well, everyone is out tonight. So there I was lying on the couch watching Battlestar Galactica, when out of the corner of my eye, I see whiteness headed to the back of the house. It was Maddie. I called out to her, but she ignored me and headed back towards my mom's room, meowing.
I picked her up (she's lighter than a feather these days), gave her some scratches, and carried her back to her apartments. Then I returned to BSG.
Twenty minutes later, she had returned, this time stopping to see me, and being MUCH more vocal.
I gave her significantly more scratches, and once again took her back to her apartments, this time, finding a series of contraptions to raise the level of the gate to keep her in. I didn't want her getting stepped on by the Mastiff.
Fifteen minutes later, she had returned, stopped to see me, and wouldn't stop meowing.*
She's knocked down the barricades. And so I put them back up. And put her back in. After a SERIOUSLY long deluge of skritches, and some snuffles from the Mastiff and Catahoolahound (they both know who's boss, and treat her with much affection).
Ten minutes later, she had returned, louder than ever. It was then that I realized how late it was. I opened up a can of food and put it in her bowl. She dove in heartily and I let her be without putting the barricades back up.
Now, this is where the entry would have ended, except that at the point where the asterisk is, Maddie returned. Not as loud, but still demanding. I gave her MORE love, and put her back in her apartment, but she immediately tried to come back out. I brought her house in from outside, but she wanted nothing to do with it.
So now, she's here in the computer room with me, sitting in my mom's desk chair while I sit in my dads. I turn around occasionally and rub her head. She meows something akin to "Peter, Peter, Peter" (she's old, she can't remember my name) and then quiets.
As I look over my shoulder she's grooming herself. Apparently quite content.
She is the matriarch of the house this evening, and whatever she wants is hers.