Below is a chapter from "Far From Perfect", titled: Sasharoonie.
Between the time I finished writing Far From Perfect and now, I've gained additional writing experience. As a result, I decided to edit Far From Perfect better to make the book more reader friendly. At the same time, I tried to leave much of the book with the same feel as when originally written. For those who didn't read Far From Perfect, when I refer to the bear in the below chapter, I am referring to my ex-wife, Gretchen.
Sasharoonie became part of our family. When we first purchased Sasha, Gretchen experienced allergies. I asked if she wanted me to return her kitty. However, the bear really liked Sasha and declined. Over time Gretchen's allergies got a little better.
During the next few years we called Sasha a slew of different nicknames. Gretchen thought of the first nickname. She called her Snaggle Tooth because one of her fangs stuck out the bottom of her mouth. I called her the Fierce Mountain Lion and Saber Tooth. We also called her Sasharoonie and Rooninski.
We called Sasha the Prissy Kitty. She is very particular about what she eats. She'll only eat certain foods. She likes her food fresh and only drinks water if it's at room temperature.
The bear called her the Mischievous Kitty. The Mischievous Kitty is one of my favorite nick names. She tries to be good, yet often found a way to get herself in trouble when we weren't around.
Years later, when Sasha was much older I called her Stewart Little. She's very tiny. I noticed, when she runs she sometimes folds her ears back in the same way as Stewart Little.
As a kitten she was everywhere. Sasharoonie didn’t stop moving. She wanted to see and smell everything. There wasn't an inch of our apartment she didn't explore.
We always kept a variety of different toys for her. She played with anything she could find. She'd see my basketball, run and jump on it, rolling over as the ball rolls. She climbed everywhere; the fridge; the bed; the shelves. She even found a way to get on the very top of the doors. I didn't know how she got up there. Nor did I know how she kept her balance, somehow she did.
The lady we purchased her from said, Russian Blue cats possess many of the same characteristics as dogs. She was correct. If I threw her a toy foam ball, she fetched the ball and brought it back to me. I also played hide-and-go-seek with Sasha. If I was in the bedroom, I ran into the living room to hide. A short time thereafter, Sasha went into the living room, looking everywhere until she found me. When she found me, I ran in the bedroom to hide. From there, she began looking for me in the bedroom.
As a kitten she was a bit wild. A day I'll never forget is the day she decided to climb the bear like a tree. Sasha, as all cats do, tended to climb things. When she was a kitten, she climbed everything in our apartment. I was trying to train her not to jump on the counter by the stove. I wanted to make sure she didn’t accidentally jump onto the stove while the bear was cooking and burn herself.
Sasha was behind Gretchen in the kitchen. Gretchen was cooking, facing the counter, though, she knew Sasha was behind her. The bear said something to the effect of: You better not let her jump on me! I was kneeling next to Sasha. I told the bear not to worry. I figured, if I saw Sasha move in Gretchen’s general direction, I could stop her. Plus, I was thinking, at worst she might jump on the counter.
Before I could react, Sasha decided to launch herself onto Gretchen. She stuck her pointy little claws into in the bear's back, climbing her like a tree. I pulled Sasharoonie off the bear quickly, nevertheless, the damage was done. The bear ended up with a few deep claw marks. I didn't hear the end of that for many months.
(In a previous chapter, I talked about the studio and fighting fish.) When we purchased Sasha we still owned the same fighting fish we kept in the studio. He was alive and doing good. We kept him on the kitchen counter of the apartment where we were now living, Montery Gardens. From there, it didn't take long before Sasharoonie decided our little fish might make a good meal. I walked in the kitchen, there was Sasharoonie, on the counter with her paw in the vase trying to scoop out our fish. Needless to say, we moved our fighting fish to a safer location.
Sasharoonies next adventure was when Gretchen's parents asked us to watch their dog Jerry for a few days. Jerry is a small dog, about Sasha's size. A little while after they were introduced to each other, he became Sasharoonies friend. Though, she had to warm up to Jerry. When we first let Jerry in the apartment Sasha was weary of him.
Nevertheless, sometime thereafter, Sasha realized she was much quicker. She also realized Jerry couldn't jump on the bed. She had a safe zone. From there, she enjoyed playing with Jerry. She did her best to try and get him to chase her. When Sasha was on the bed she launched herself over Jerry, jolting into the living room. If Jerry didn't chase her, she ran back into the bedroom launching herself over Jerry onto the bed. Eventually, Jerry began chasing her, thought the kitty was too fast.
While Jerry was visiting, Sasha slept on the bed with us. She normally slept in a crate we turned into her bedding area.
As Sasha grew older, we discovered she had a problem with her teeth. She became very sick. Her gums swelled, turned red, before developing cuts and soars. We took her to a veterinary clinic a few blocks away.
The lady we saw at the clinic told us she thought Sasha was allergic to her own teeth. For some reason, her body was rejecting them. She thought the only way her gums would heal was if we removed all her teeth.
However, having her teeth removed was a drastic step. The lady at the veterinary clinic wanted to give Sasha steroids first. She was hoping they would improve, strengthen her immune system, preventing her body from rejecting her teeth. She subscribed steroids. At the same time, the vet told us about the dangers of steroids. She told us steroids could shorten her life if given for extended periods of time. We gave them to her every day as instructed. Sasha showed improvements, though, she was far from healthy.
When we took her for a follow up visit, a different veterinarian was working. He didn't agree with the original diagnoses. He didn't want to have her teeth pulled. He wanted us to try giving her a different type of steroid. By this time Sasha's mouth was much worse. In addition to the redness and cuts on her gums, pus was coming out of them as a result of infections. She wasn’t eating very much and was sleeping almost all day and night.
The second type of steroids didn't work either. We took her back to the clinic for another follow up visit. We saw yet another different veterinarian. He was reluctant to have her teeth pulled as well. He subscribed another type of steroid. We gave her the steroids as instructed. Sasharoonie didn’t show any improvement. By now we were both very worried about our kitty.
We decided to bring her to a different veterinary clinic quite a bit further from our area. They didn't know what was wrong with her either. They didn't want to pull her teeth. More steroids were prescribed. We didn't know what else to do except take their advice. We continued to give her steroids for a few more months. The steroids weren't working at all anymore. By this time, Sasha had been very sick for about a year. We took her back to the second veterinary clinic, only to find out they wanted to keep trying different types of steroids.
The vet bills were piling up. Sasha wasn't getting better. She was much worse. We couldn't stand to see her in constant pain. I remembered what the first veterinarian said. She thought if we removed Sasha's teeth, her gums would heal. Plus, she said, extended use of steroids would shorten the length of her life.
Sasha had been on steroids for about a year. Gretchen and myself talked over our options. We decided we were going to have her teeth pulled. We made an appointment for surgery at the veterinary clinic near our condo. They were still very hesitant at the idea. Nevertheless, we insisted. I don’t think they understood the pain her teeth were causing. They didn’t see her in pain the entire day, every day.
After some convincing, they decided to go ahead with the surgery. They pulled all her teeth, except for her upper and lower fangs, and a couple of her smaller teeth in the front of her mouth.
After Sasharoonie healed from the surgery, her gums did as well. The redness went away. She wasn't in nearly as much pain. From then forward, we needed to feed her wet canned cat food. She could eat wet cat food without much of a problem. Her energy level increased. Sasharoonie began acting like the mischievous kitty we knew and loved.
Sasharoonie was usually a very happy cat. She enjoyed playing, running, climbing and the occasional cat nap. However, there was one thing she hated. Baths! As soon as we put her in the tub, her claws came out. She cried bloody murder.
Before giving her a bath, we always cut her nails. If not, we wouldn't fare to well. Her bath required both the bear and myself working as a team. I held her in the tub, while Gretchen washed her. As we did, Sasha let out loud screaming meows in a tone I didn't know existed. By the time we finished, even with my best efforts holding her down, she usually gave me a few scratch marks. We let her out; we dried her off, then, within minutes, she was fine. Almost like nothing happened, except she was now clean.
Over the years she developed an incredible personality. Sasharoonie loved boxes. She could jump inside and out of boxes for hours. If the box was closed, she found a way inside to hide.
When she slept, she curled up in a ball, covering her eyes with her paws.
In the morning, when she wanted to get fed, she walked to Gretchen's side of the bed, gently nudging the bear. Gretchen enjoyed the good morning jesters. She always got out of bed to feed her kitty.
Sometimes, I'd grab a towel, dragging it along the floor. Sasha jumped on the towel to go for a ride.
We owned a computer chair with wheels. She liked riding on the computer chair as well. She jumped on the chair. I pushed it around the room, spinning it in circles at the same time. Sasha did her best to stay on the chair without falling off. I always spun the chair just slow enough to let her keep her balance.
Excerpts from chapter 21:
The Two Of Us And Sasharoonie
Sasharoonie was becoming more like a family member than a pet. The bear referred to her as our daughter. We treated her as good as we possibly could.
We got her a very large cat tree. We put the cat tree in the corner of the living room and always kept it stocked with toys. We also built Sasha a bed next to our bed.
She liked the layout of the condo. She'd run full speed from the bedroom into the living room, getting sideways as she made the turn into the living room. Then run the length of the living room before launching herself onto the cat tree, climbing to the top.
In addition to her toys, I purchased a laser pointer. The laser pointer reflected brightly when pointed at the dark floors. Sasha use to go nuts trying to catch the lasers light.
When Christmas arrived, we purchased a full-size Christmas tree and shatter proof ornaments. We always set aside plenty of time to decorate the tree together.
I put trains around the tree. Gretchen’s mom gave us a set of model buildings. We put the buildings under the tree with the trains. The buildings came with people figurines as well. Gretchen’s mom also gave a nativity set we displayed on a shelf during Christmas.
Sasha celebrated her first Christmas with a full-size tree. To her, the tree was an enormous toy. In the middle of the night she’d go in the living room to knock as many ornaments off of the tree as possible. She cranked her paw back, whacking the ornaments as hard as she could. Sometimes they flew across the room.
By morning, ornaments were scattered all over the living room floor. We began listening carefully at night for any noises we heard from the living room.
When we heard something, either myself or Gretchen got out of bed to tell the mischievous kitty to stop knocking down ornaments. A few nights we needed to get out of bed multiple times. As our kitty grew older she learnt the tree wasn't a toy.