Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Goodbye Carmine


Those who know me know that I am not a particularly sentimental person. I've had a lot of pet cats over the years, and my usual reaction upon their death is, "that's so sad," and then I move on. Last night, my latest (and most likely last) cat had to be euthanized due to severe cardiac distress. This time, the death of the animal affected me greatly. For those of you that aren't interested in such things, please scroll down to the previous articles on this blog. I promise to return to form as soon as possible.

I inherited Carmine from Adrienne Ferrari when she went to London to study at Goldsmith's in London. At first, I was, like most people, slightly repelled by the thought of a hairless cat, but Adrienne knew I liked cats and figured I would be the best person to leave the cat with. The first night at my house, he jumped onto my lap and looked at me intently. On a whim, I started to explain to the cat that I wasn't sure how I felt about felines without fur. Then the cat did something remarkable. He tilted his head and looked at me as if he were trying to figure out what I was saying. That was all it took. I fell in love with the cat at that point.

Over the years, Carmine proved to be an admirable companion. He was smarter than any cat had a right to be; like, monkey-smart. When he was young, he liked to play fetch with small balls. As he got older, he switched to a preference for balled up pieces of paper. He liked to attack any kind of string or ribbon, making any attempt on my part to learn magic tricks using these props, nearly impossible. Out of this propensity, I managed to teach him a magic trick, which he performed for several people.

Being a Sphynx, he sought out warmth like a missile, permanently destroying the blinds in my front window to get at the sunlight. I truly believe that he would have curled up on top of an open flame if he could have. He preferred to crawl completely under the covers whenever he slept, and he slept a lot. Of course, that never stopped him from waking me every day at five-thirty in the morning. He would start by meowing, and when that didn't work, he would start scratching my ears. If I continued to pretend to sleep his next step was usually to get onto the nightstand and take a flying leap at my head. One way or another, he was getting me out of bed. Attempts to lock him out of the bedroom proved fruitless, he would set such a frightening caterwauling right out side the door that I usually ended up getting up for fear that it would wake the neighbors. Of course, as soon as I was up, he crawled back under the covers and went back to sleep.

Lately, I noticed he was not eating much food, and seemed more lethargic than usual. I decided to take him to the vet, and the morning I was planning to go to the vet he woke me up with his panting. He was having  lot of trouble breathing. When I took him to the vet, she recommended that I take him to San Francisco Veterinary Specialists—a full-court hospital for animals. They gave him several tests, ultrasounds, and injections and told me that he seemed to be okay. They weren't sure yet if it was his heart, cancer, or asthma but they wanted to keep him there that night. They had drained some fluid from his lungs and said that if it was a serious heart condition, then that might be a problem. As it turned out, that was the problem. I got a call at three in the morning from the attending vet that he probably wouldn't make it though the night. His lungs had filled back up with fluid. I rushed down to the hospital. He was struggling badly to keep breathing. They injected him and that was that.

I will miss that cat.


Jaina Bee said...

I am so sorry to hear about Carmine's demise.

Anonymous said...

I lost my cat two years ago on Halloween. I was never an animal person but he chose me, for fifteen years he slept with me.I used to jokely say my husband and I stayed together for the cat.I now believe we did:-) I miss him too so I understand .

Unknown said...


I heard about Carmine's death from Adrienne. I too can relate. It can be terrifically difficult to say goodbye, and all the more so when you have no time to prepare. My cat Margaret—who also played fetch—died of congestive heart failure. She went from fine to gone in 3 very short days. She was 4 years old. After more than a year, I still miss that cat a lot. Carmine looked and sounded like a real individual and a great cat friend. I don't envy you the missing that you will likely feel. But I do have an idea what it may be like. So, my condolences on your loss.


terri said...

thanks jim
i loved carmine sooooooo much!

Neil said...

Hey, Jim. What was the magic trick you taught him?

Jim Morton said...

The magic trick was this: I would tie a knot in a rope and dangle it in front of Carmine. He would bite the knot, and the knot would disappear. It was very hard to practice any rope tricks in front of Carmine as he was wont to attack the rope. This was the one way I could make something out of this behavior.