CATALINA & SIBLING: THE LATER YEARS
They look so sweet together, don't they? Well, unfortunately this was not usually the case. On a really chilly day, and this must have been one of them, snuggling was good. Otherwise they tended to remain on opposite sides of the porch. Older cats are increasingly solitary creatures, and the only reason to get together was for warmth.
Here Sibling is atop her petting station. I think she would have been more willing to spend more time close to Catalina, but she was terrified of her sister. I suspect that when we did find them together, it was because Catalina would seek her out, give her a hard slap, and say "Get your ass over here and keep me warm!"
Located on the north side of the house, the porch got little sunlight except early in the morning and late in the afternoon. In pleasant weather, both cats like to seek out the sun, but Catalina always got the best place. Here she is on the bottom level of the baker's rack on the east side of the porch.
Both cats liked to be petted, but they did not like to be held. Sometimes Catalina would endure sitting in your lap, as long as she could shred your thighs with her claws. Here she is being resistant to Jonathan's attempt to hold her. Of course, sometimes I couldn't resist being slightly hateful to them. Cats can bring that out in a person.
This is Catalina's idea of fun: lie there looking winsome and then when somebody tries to pet you, rip his arm off and beat him over the head with the bloody end! Or at least engage the party in a bit of paw-slapping, and with any luck draw a little blood.
Of the two cats, Sibling was much the scrawnier. Her back was incredibly bony, and you could feel her ribs when you were allowed to pet her. And the fur along her back seemed scant, as if she were losing hair there, going bald like Jonathan, perhaps. She would stand on this petting station, and if you approached her calmly and slowly, she would permit just a bit of petting before she'd freak out and run. But if you made any sudden move, she'd freak out and vanish into one of the hidey-holes.
We did not realize the extent to which Catalina terrorized her sister. Later, I began to understand that Sibling was afraid to go to the food dishes and even nervous about using the litter box. There seemed to be the occasional "accident" near the latter, and I believe that Catalina would attack her before she had finished with what she needed to do.
Of course, on rare occasions, like this one in 2007, they would get a little closer to each other. Here they are on an old plant stand of my mother's on the west side of the porch.
And as I have said before, on really cold nights or chilly mornings, they might snuggle up for warmth.
The two cats managed to muddle on. Catalina had begun to have fits of anger after which it took her a long time to calm down, sometimes a day or so. Sibling would get as high up and as far away as she could. When Catalina was in one of her rages, I was afraid to go out on the porch. She would be in hiding, growling, shrieking, and would even rush out to attack me. Once that adrenaline built up, it took a long time to wear off. (I've had some relatives like that too.) The veterinarian, following tests, thought that possibly all of this was related to kidney problems, and we switched the cats to a diet featuring dry food that was easier on the kidneys. It helped.
In the late winter of 2013, Catalina became increasingly lethargic. Gradually she stopped eating, but I did notice that she was drinking a lot more water. She abhorred going to the vet, and I decided to respect her wishes. After all, she was 13 years old now. In early March she pretty much stayed on the divan on the left of this picture, getting down only for occasional water and trips to the litter box. One evening I realized that her time was almost over, death imminent. The next morning she was not responding to my touches. Mid-morning I went out to check on her, and she had somehow gotten down from the couch and crawled under the chair on the right. Her body had stiffened, but her paws were still twitching a bit. In a few minutes even that had stopped. I buried her down the hill behind the house, near where Tom and I had interred the ashes of Huckleberry back in 1999. Okay, she was weird. She was mean. Maybe she was just a sick cat. But I missed her.