Earlier this week, we said goodbye to Doyle, our NAFTA kitty. He was almost 17 years old. Doyle was our second pet; we still have our first cat, Pannonica, who is either 17 or 18.
We got Doyle in January 1995 from the Austin Humane Society on North 183. I went looking for a cat for company for Pannonica and because she seemed partial either Brian or me and not the other. So clearly the other one of us needed a cat. Brian and I differ in our recollection about “whose cat” Doyle was supposed to be. I think Pannonica liked me, and Doyle was supposed to be a cat for him. But then, somewhere along the line, Pannonica became “his cat,” and Doyle became “mine.” He thinks this was the plan all along. In any case, we both liked Doyle when we met him. He was a tiny kitten, only 8 weeks old. He literally bounced around the little visiting room, and I just couldn’t resist him.
By Christmas 1997, Brian and I had two other pets, too, Slim (a hundred pound, sorta crazy American bulldog) and Syeeda (another short hair). We were living in Chapel Hill, NC, and I was in graduate school. That Christmas, I took all four pets with me to visit my grandparents and family in Florida. Doyle picked his first fight with Slim during that trip. Later that spring, Doyle started another fight with Slim in which Doyle ended up with a broken nose and a claw ripped off. After that, we had to keep him away from Slim because Doyle just wouldn’t back down.
That’s how it came to be that when we moved to Mexico City in 1998, Doyle came with us. My mom took care of the other 3 pets. I think Doyle liked our apartment in Coyoacan, mainly because it was the only time he was allowed outside with supervision. He was allowed in the courtyard of our small four unit building, and the first time he looked up and saw the sky and not a roof, he was visibly startled. But by the time we left, he liked laying in the courtyard sunshine. In 2001, he went back to Mexico City with us a second time.
In January 2002, we had said goodbye to Slim after a short but devastating illness, and quickly decided to get another dog, Mance. Doyle still didn’t like dogs, and sometimes didn’t seem to like the other cats either, but Mance learned his place (last) in the pet hierarchy quickly. Sometimes, it was clear that Doyle was intentionally bossing Mance around. For instance, if we were playing fetch in the house with Mance, Doyle might causally wander near the toy without looking at it or Mance, but effectively preventing Mance from getting near the toy and forcing him to look back over his shoulder at us with an expression of despair at not being able to bring us the toy. Other times, Doyle would stand right in the middle of the hallway just when I called the dog to go for a walk; he seemed to know that Mance would get stuck behind him and not know how to get around. Doyle also liked to push Mance, a 90 lb. olde English bulldog, off the communal water dish, where he would seem to drink for so long that Mance would be forced to lay down a few feet away to wait his turn. Doyle’s been our crankiest (or perhaps passive aggressive is a better way to describe it) cat for a while now.
I called Doyle our NAFTA kitty because he’s been with us to all three NAFTA countries, the only of our pets for which that is true. He’s been a part of our lives for a long time. While we miss him, we’re grateful that the end was not protracted and that he was not in pain. He got a respiratory infection, and though it seemed to be getting better with antibiotics for a few days, he suddenly stopped eating and got very weak. He was already very underweight. Force feeding him at home didn’t seem to be working, so it was time to let him go.
It’s hard to tell if the other cats miss him. They haven’t been close kitties for a while, each instead keeping to their separate spaces. Brian said Syeeda laid with him that last day on the couch, and she was sniffing his favorite spot a few days after he was gone. I can’t tell if we’re giving them extra attention because they need it or because we do.