This is a reprint from a post on my more obscure web blog, from November 1, 2008, in memory of Boomer (1992 – July 5, 2009)
My cat Mr. Boomer has been with us for nearly 16 years now. He came to us in November of 1992 as a stray: starved, insecure, needy, stinking, and full of worms. We took him to our vet, Dr. P–, of the P– Veterinary Clinic, and got him checked out and patched up. He’d already been declawed and fixed. I named him and he moved in and took over us and the house, even though my wife would have gladly had him put to sleep. He was loud, annoying, always hungry, constantly under foot, and every couple of days he’d have a poop like a St. Bernard that would fill the litter box and peel the paint off the walls.
Even so, he was my Mr. Boomer, my Big Guy, my Mr. Cat, my Mr. Boom Boom Guy, a real guy’s cat, a cat who met me at the door when I came home and coaxed me to the living room floor every day to roughhouse and play-fight with me. As Calvin said of Hobbes, “It’s hard to stay mad at someone who misses you when you’re asleep.”
For these 16 year after he settled in and calmed down I couldn’t figure out why anyone would throw out such a perfectly good cat. Well, the toxic poops were probably clues. We imagine that he might have started life in the spring with a family in a small mobile home, and the first time they closed up the windows for winter and he hit the litter box, he was outta there. But I could live with it. And he was loud, talking at us constantly, and in recent years especially he’s been a perpetual tripping hazard, always underfoot. At least he was healthy in every respect, and over the years he’s proven remarkably durable, to the point of near indestructability. He’s never been sick, he’s fallen from great heights without injury, and once he was nearly pinched in half by the garage door– at the top, not the bottom– with no noticeable damage. I always said he could probably shrug off a direct nuclear hit.
For the past few months he’s been fighting a pesky urinary infection. He lost a lot of weight this spring, causing some concern. After all, he’s 16, and despite evidence to the contrary, he probably won’t live forever. We put him on antibiotics, twice, and now he’s gained some of his weight back by gorging himself on expensive canned cat food, but I still say when I pick him up he feels like he’s stuffed with dry straw.
Then one day we found he was spotting blood all over the house, so we took him back to the vet. Same vet clinic we’d taken him to nearly 16 years ago when he came to us. The prognosis: some stronger antibiotics and a diet of special (certainly more expensive) cat food should bring him around in a week or so. And… HE is a SHE!!! After nearly 16 years, we find out MR. Boomer is a GIRL! The head vet, Dr. P– (whose name is on the sign), had taken a quick look back in 1992 and guessed (guessed!) that Boomer was a he. Said vet was apparently wrong.
This changes everything….. 16 long years…..
Everybody who is not us seems to find this a lot funnier than we do. The junior vets and assistants (women) at the clinic thought it was hysterical. When they asked how we came to think she was a he, I pointed out that he was a stray and Dr. P– himself ventured the diagnosis. They all nodded sagely and said “ahhhh…. that explains it.”
The bright side is that if he was a he, with that much blood in his urine, he’d need surgery. As a she… well, he… she… IT…? Boomer is OK now, after a few days and nights of quarantine in the bathroom with adult mattress pads all over the floor. Geez.
This does explain another mystery. In more than 15 years, my mother, even when she would come and take care of our cats for days on end a few times a year when we were on vacation, could NEVER keep straight which cat was which: which was Boomer (big, bold, gray and white, meets everyone at the door), which was Sprout (small, black, timid), which was the boy (Boomer… we thought), which was the girl (Sprout). It always seemed easy enough to us, but, well……… nearly 16 YEARS! And Mom never got it. Now maybe I finally see the reason for her confusion….