The incomparable, irresistible, irreplaceable Rabbit the Cat

One day I was at the vet with my two cats. I’d signed them in on the sheet at the front with their names, my name, and our arrival time. The vet tech read the sheet, then said, “Who brought the rabbit?”

I answered, “I did. And Rabbit is a cat.”

Adorable from day one

This led to a tradition at our house of always referring to our sweet, loving, impossibly cute and serene male lilac point Siamese cat as The Rabbit. That’s when we weren’t calling him The Boy, My Boy, Rabbit Boo, Sweetie Boo, Boo Boy, Rabbito, Conejo Feliz, Pretty Boy, Happy Boy, Purring Boy, Darling Boy, Flopping Boy, Sun Kitty, Cream-Colored Kitty, Lord of the Thighs (his favorite place to sit) or Kitty in the Window (his other favorite place to sit). Yes, when we weren’t embarrassing him with all these names, he was The Rabbit. (His sister Noddy has a long list of pet names, too. Collectively, they were known as the Boosome Twosome.)

Like yin and yang

Rabbit really was an exceptional cat. He singlehandedly turned my husband into a cat person. When Ken and I began to date back in ’99, Ken wasn’t sure if he’d like dealing with my cats. He’d never owned a cat or a dog himself, and was allergic to pet dander. Rabbit settled all that in just a few seconds. He jumped into Ken’s lap, rubbed his head against Ken’s hand, gave a purr, and that was it. Ken loved both the cats from that moment. He got so used to their dander that they could sleep on him all night without causing a sneeze.

Instant love

Rabbit just had a sweet and loving way about him that won people over. He was very patient and calm, and didn’t meow much. He just walked up to you, decided you were probably a nice person, jumped into your lap and purred contentedly. He did this with everyone, and everyone loved him instantly. He showed no fear and was never rejected. It helped that he had big blue eyes and the softest fur you can imagine. But it was his attitude that “you and I are friends” that really won hearts and minds.

We called this position double-kittified

We used to complain that his sister Noddy, who is his actual blood sister from the same litter of kittens, really needed to take charm lessons from Rabbit. He always knew how to snuggle comfortably on you or next to you, while she would do something less fun like stand heavily on your chest (or worse, your throat) and meow directly in your face. We used to say that Noddy is 8 pounds of lead, while Rabbit is 9 pounds of feathers. (This led to Noddy’s nickname of Lead Kitty.)

Kitty charm school

Even when Rabbit started getting sick from kidney disease, he found new ways to charm us. He was barfing a lot at that time, and got quite thin and frail. He couldn’t jump up on the kitchen counter anymore, and sleeping in his usual spot behind my knees became impossible because if I turned he couldn’t move fast enough to avoid getting smushed. So he started sleeping on our pillows, usually curled up in my hair. You’d think this would be annoying, but it wasn’t. We called this position Cat Hat.

Rabbit demonstrates Cat Hat

Rabbit’s illness lasted about 2 years, during which I had to administer fluids to him subcutaneously. This involved sitting him in my lap, calming him down though he knew what was coming, inserting a needle from a hanging IV bag into a fold of skin between his shoulders, and keeping him from running away for 10-15 minutes until he’d gotten all 100 mL of the fluids inside him. He put up with it all with grace and only a few meowed complaints. Towards the end, for about 3 months, I had to do this twice a day. In addition, he needed 3-5 medications each mealtime – sometimes pills cut into quarters, sometimes liquids – all of which required forcing his mouth open. I hated doing it, but otherwise he’d die.

A true bromance

Of course, he died anyway. I like to think, though, that he went how he would have wanted to. He was at home, lying on the couch in our bedroom in the sun. We were away in Kansas City, and our wonderful friend and able catsitter Josh found him there, passed away, with Noddy standing guard over him.

It’s been about a month, and I still can’t wash the cream-colored kitty hair off the couch cover, or even move the curtains near the couch in any way. I keep picturing him there curled up, or looking out the window for us. Kitty in the Window.

Rabbit the Cat, September 1996 - June 17, 2010. Rest in peace, darling boy.