I just wanted to mention to folks, since I know we have so many pet lovers out there, that one of Chris’ cats, the big black one called Nasdaq, died yesterday.
Nasdaq was a teenager with a bit of an eating problem – the old girl LOVED to eat (though Sushi had his moments) – but it was finally cancer that proved her match.
Chris and his wife Joelle have (had) two cats, Nasdaq and Sushi (Sushi, the skinny grey one, is still around). For my tastes, Nasdaq was always the simpler more loving cat, in her manner. As a dog person, I tend to pigeon-hole animals by their intelligence. Sometimes the most affectionate dogs (my parents’ dog Kukla comes to mind) is as sweet and free-wheeling with the love as she can be, in part, or perhaps due to, the fact that she’s kind of a blithering idiot. Sasha, my dog, in contrast, is quite intelligent, and boy do you have to earn the love.
I wouldn’t ever want to call Nasdaq dumb, but let’s put it this way: Sushi was the one who would slink around the house waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on Nasdaq out of the blue. Nasdaq, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to take a nap next to Sushi and lick his face. Sushi, true to form, would permit Nasdaq to clean him, occasionally, but then within a few minutes would get bored, and take a swipe at Nasdaq’s face. You get the picture.
Sushi was definitely the one in charge, from my perspective, and Nasdaq was the lovable groupie with the weight problem. I remember the time that Sushi dragged a live, but now-injured, pigeon into the apartment at around 11pm at night, while Chris and Joelle were vacationing in the south. Or as I referred to the incident at the time, “God d*mn cats just brought an enormous pigeon into the house.”
What happened next was a good hour of me trying to capture the flailing the bird, while Sushi kept trying to play with it (blood and feathers flying everywhere), and Nasdaq, for her part, hissed at it, then at me, then ran behind the curtains to bravely continue her hissing – she was providing Sushi with moral support – from a safe distance. I found out that it’s quite impossible to catch a live birth with a blanket (just try). But salad spinners work quite well.
From what I remember Chris and Joelle telling me, the two cats were related. And both have had their health problems the last couple of years, mostly associated with simply getting old. Sushi has been having thyroid problems, and is still having a hard time keep on the weight. While Nasdaq had cancer toward the end (it was first treated in 2008), but a few years back also had asthma. And let me tell you, that was a real joy to treat.
Nasdaq famously needed a steroid inhaler a few years back, taking the same medicine I take for my asthma. I remember Chris telling me I’d need to give Nasdaq the medicine twice a day while I was there (I house sit/cat sit for them every August while they’re on vacation).
The inhaler works in the following manner. You grab the cab, hold them still, while you put this contraption over their muzzle, push down on the back of it (like albuterol) until it gives a puffy mist of medicine and a loud pssssht that apparently scares the hell out of cats.
This thing was designed by someone who had clearly never met a cat. I wrote a bit about my experience administering this to Nasdaq a few years back:
Those of you who have cats will appreciate what happens next.
Being a dog guy, I was worried that Nasdaq might bite me, or scratch me. But I never quite anticipated what she actually did. I cornered her and gave her her two shots of medicine and she took it quite well, then ran like hell. Never to be seen again.
For two full weeks, Nasdaq ran and hid every morning, and every evening, just about the time I needed to find her to give her the medicine. If she accidentally ran into me in the hallway, she bolted. The cat literally hid from me for two full weeks. Now sure, a dog might have bitten your arm off doing this to her (well, actually your own dog would know better), but a dog would have faithfully put up with it every morning and night. A cat simply runs and hides. And if you’ve ever tried to catch a running cat, it’s nothing like a dog. They’re like jello. Or in Nasdaq’s case, very fat, slow-moving jello, but jello nonetheless.
Perhaps my favorite Nasdaq story is from a few years ago. As I’d mentioned, our little CatGirl had a bit of a weight problem that came down on her after she was fixed, and never got better. While Sushi could graze lazily all day long, Nasdaq would devour anything and everything that was put in front of her. And she quickly grew to a good 17+ pounds. Chris and Joelle put her on a strict diet or diet cat-food, and would even put Sushi’s food on the dining room table, where Nasdaq was too fat, and old, to jump. Yet somehow, Nasdaq kept putting on weight.
Well. I had a hunch. It seemed to me that Sushi’s food on the dining room table was disappearing far too quickly. And while Chris and Joelle averred that there was no way CatGirl was jumping on the table (we had the chairs pushed in, and Nasdaq could barely struggle to get on to the bed), I had a feeling that there was more to Nasdaq than met the eye. So I googled around and found a free program to turn my laptop computer into a spy cam. I pointed it at the dining room table, went to bed, and any time a cat jumped on the table the camera would automatically turn on and record for 15 seconds or so.
So I wake up the next morning, check the film logs, and what do I see?
Yes, Nasdaq it seems was a tad more nimble than anyone gave her credit for. Here’s the full video from the middle of the night:
One of Nasdaq’s great joys in life was taking ownership over suitcases, which dove-tailed nicely with her other joy in life, sleeping. Whether it was my suitcase while visting (and I had to put a towel over it to stop all the hair from sticking):
Or Joelle’s suitcase as she and Chris were packing to leave on their month-long trip – Nasdaq always knew when they were leaving, and would occupy Joelle’s suitcase in an attempt to stop the madness:
Nasdaq, along with her partner in slumber, Sushi, would sometimes play with the toys I brought them from America. The George W. Bush doll was a bit hit for a few hours:
But being of the AARP-generation, in cat years, toys no longer quite cut it with these cats. What always remained a favorite past-time, however, was of course sunning themselves on the balcony. Chris and Joelle has a lovely garden, which is unusual for Paris, where the cats just loved to always sun themselves.
Another of my favorite memories of Nasdaq is the time she shat all over my clothes in the hamper. Oh sure, I’m not 100% certain which cat did the deed, but I always had my suspicions that it was Nasdaq. I remember at the time that you guys had recommended I not try to scold the cats, as that would only make things worse. Your advice was to make more of an effort befriending Nasdaq, so I did – here were the results:
In Nasdaq’s world, this counted as exercise as well :) She had this thing for rolling on her back when you called her name – thus the calisthenics in the video above.
And finally, here’s Chris and CatGirl, as he and Joelle like to call her: