Saturday, April 11, 2015

Rulon: a generous cat with a big, loving heart

We lost the boy kitty yesterday.   Asleep in my husband's lap, surrounded by love, he crossed the rainbow bridge.

His life as we knew it: 

He was born in a trailer park in Gerlach, Nevada and lived there as a stray for many years, although a one time someone took good care of him.  Gerlach is home to a lot of cats and very few people, and Rue graduated to our yard and partook of the free cat food and water that was offered to all members  of "The Cat Club."
Rulon soon became president and finally moved into the house but still ruled the yard with his fellow cats.

Two incidents stand out.
1)  I visited Gerlach years ago when Rulon was already in residence.  He spent half the night on my bed at my feet and half the night with his master.  He always shared the love.  

2)  Having been on his own a lot, Rulon was a mighty hunter, and one day he caught a bat in the yard.  In this part of the world, many bats are rabid.  Hearing the scuffle in the yard, his master went out and separated cat and bat (the bat was injured).  He took a shovel and dispatched the bat, and took the carcass to Reno to determine if the bat had been rabid.  Unfortunately, the bat's head was smashed to smithereens, and it was not possible to do a necropsy.

 Rulon's master was told the cat should be isolated for six months to make sure he hadn't contacted rabies.  This was deemed impossible.  Now, living approximately 100 miles from anywhere, Rulon had not received much veternary care, but he had been "fixed."   That meant that he probably had had a rabies shot at one time at least.  The vets contacted around Reno did not want to touch this case with a ten foot pole, except for one who said, "bring him in."  We will all be forever grateful to this man.

I landed in Reno from Boston the day Rulon was to go to the vet.  Even with cell phones, we had a hard time meeting up at the airport, and his master carried Rulon in a (smallish) cat carrier and also carried a cooler. as  the day was very hot.  Finally we found the vet's office.  By now the cat was an unhappy camper.  The vet had an emergency delivery of pure bred kittens, and we had to wait.  I purchased a larger carrier.  Rulon got a rabies booster and a distemper shot and was put into the new carrier and we drove the 100 miles back to Gerlach.  He did not feel well that evening and the next day, and then he rallied.  The vet said watch him for two weeks, and after this time passed without any signs of rabies the cat was good to go although he was monitored for a longer period of time. 

Rulon came to us again via Southwest Airlines with a harness because he had to be taken out of the carrier to go through security.  It was a long drive to Reno, and then a flight and then a layover and another flight and he arrived in Providence late at night exhausted.  So tired was he that he crawled into a corner of the basement storeroom and slept for two days.   No food.  No water.  No litter box use.  That's when we realized he was probably  older than we thought.  He finally recovered and was introduced to his housemate who spruned him because she dislikes all other cats.  In the end she grew to tolerate him and even slept on our bed with him (discreetly separated) occasionally. 

A few years ago, another Gerlach cat, a pretty friendly tabby joined the household, and she and Rulon bonded.  He loved her and liked to lick her ears.  She even let him sniff her butt, something the other female cat disdained (to put it mildly).  The new girl kitty wanted to play, and Rue was just too old to play, but they both would sleep on my lap while I watched TV, providing a wonderful excuse for long naps and being lazy.

Rulon had long had dental problems and had oral surgery twice.  The last time he wasn't toleraing the surgery well due to the anesthesia, which left him with dental problems which could not be remedied.  A few weeks ago he experienced difficulty eating and we tried to find food he could eat, like cat soup and baby food and his favorite food mixed with water.  This lasted for a while, but he had more and more difficulies and just wanted to lie down on the heat register wrapped in a down duvet, warmer than warm on his tired, skinny cat bones.

He continued to climb on the bed every night and sleep part of the night on each of us, still sharing the love.  He will be missed by his housemates and his owners, who are so sad that he is gone. This is something every pet owner must face and it never gets easier. 

Now the dynamic will have changed and the two girl kitties must find their way together.  As we all will.

Goodbye, Rue.
Rulon, president of the Gerlach Nevada cat club

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