I am sad to announce that on the night before his 19th birthday, my beautiful boy Roman was put to rest. I’d like to reflect on his life, as we prepare a place for him in our family’s Pet Hall of Fame where all pets live in glory and infamy in proportion to their merits.
Roman came into my life in 1993 after the death of my beloved Oscar (who was very nearly the fattest cat I’ve ever seen)
Roman may seem a very unusual name for a Siamese cat, but Roman is a very popular Russian name and the pedigree name the breeder gave him was Mluso Caesar, so we thought it was very apt. It turned out to be a little too apt, as this little dictator with the piercing and insistent Siamese voice was not shy about bossing us around. Roman, or the Romonster, as I used to call him was the most dictatorial animal I have ever known.
Roman could be heard, but never seen by our friends and family…. in fact the kitten that I had selected with a grand dream of showing him successfully turned out to be the most pathetically frightened and neurotic creature I have known. I quickly realised that as a kindness to this beautiful boy I was supposed to love and protect that I would have to give up my dreams of showing him or risk losing him to a fit of terror. No exaggeration, he did have a fit of terror when we had the carpets professionally cleaned, he was found under the bed foaming at the mouth.
In his early years Roman was a terror, he played with and destroyed anything that was not a toy. He has never played with toys. Sure kitchen sponges could be torn to shreds and the flourescent coloured crumbs left as a trail all through the house. Christmas tree ornaments were fair game. Mats were shredded beyond recognition. He once ran off with my keys in his mouth only to emerge from under the bed without them. Tissues were shredded relentlessly. Furniture was tortured and remodelled according to his taste. But he never once played with a cat toy. Not even the catmint or catnip filled treasures that cats are supposed to go mad for.
My great big bossy scaredy cat was afraid of birds. Truly. He never once went for a bird in our garden, and we have many different kinds coming in all through the day to use the feeder and bird bath. Once our next door neighbour’s chicken got over our fence and we all ran around chasing it to try and catch it and put it back over the fence… in all the commotion where was my boy? Hiding under the bed of course!
He was curious about many things though, and once jumped into the bird bath… well I guess he hadn’t figured it was wet in there, and he got the shock of his life but true to cat form he had to act all dignified, like it was his intention all along to get wet, as he slunk off out of sight to the tune of us laughing hysterically.
My mother used to have trust issues with me and would not put my christmas gifts under the tree until I had gone to bed on Christmas eve. So Roman’s first Christmas with us, he is sitting on her bed, and she takes down the plastic bag that had all my gifts in it, she took them out and put them unde the tree and then there was the most wicked commotion. Well, Mr Curious had gotten into the plastic bag, head first, and then gotten scared, and ran all around the house inside the plastic bag with mum chasing him and the noise of the bag terrifying him. I swear for years after that the sound of plastic bags rustling had him bolting for shelter under the bed.
So we have covered bossy, scared, funny, but what about awkward? Oh yes there has to come a time when a pet does a few things that make you blush with shame. Like the time when my neighbour and I returned from a shared outing to come up her driveway and see my Roman spraying on her toddler’s car seat, which she had left under the carport. Strangely when you want it to, the Earth does not just swallow you up. You have to um and ah and sweat, and blush, and almost cry and then run home and yell your bloody head off.
Roman was notorious for making a mess. He has spewed in my mother’s slippers. He has spewed in my mother’s bed. And oh yes, he has done poo in the bed too. That thing they tell you, about cat’s not going to the toilet where they sleep? Roman did not subscribe to it. He was perfectly prepared to poo where he slept, which was a problem since it is where we sleep too. He was so posh he would come inside to use the litter tray, but not so posh he won’t poo in his bed. He was toilet trained of course, but the past year or so he has not been able to go to the toilet regularly unassisted, he needs medication to be able to poo and even then he would have plenty of trouble. The poor boy would run around on ‘poo’ days trying to go and giving up and then trying to go again…. he would just try and try and try, no matter where he was, with us cleaning up in his wake.
Still, he is at peace now, and we sigh a little sigh of relief as we also mourn him. I know we gave an animal the best home possible and I know I have enough love and wisdom to do the same again for another animal.