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shameless pleading





July 2010 Issue

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi


Well, this is very late, but there is an explanation.



In the first week of July our dear kitty Harry died suddenly. Harry would have been six this month, but he was the baby of the brood, the kitten who never really grew up, never lost his wide-eyed, innocent look. Harry was a sweet, sweet kitty, and his death was a horrible shock to us. We still don’t know what happened. He developed sudden difficulty breathing one evening, and we rushed him to the emergency vet, where he spent the night in an oxygen cage, and died the next afternoon. His sister and protector Phoebe is clearly bereft. She left her (and Harry’s) hangout on the second floor and climbed to the top of the tallest china cabinet in the dining room, where she stayed for almost two weeks.  She still won’t come upstairs. I know how she feels. Harry spent most of his time in my office and we had breakfast together nearly every day. He was very fond of buttered toast crumbs. I must have said, “What’s happenin’, Harry?” a thousand times over the years.

This is what I wrote back in 2004 about how Harry, Phoebe and Gus came to us:

Elsewhere in the news, I was wandering around the yard two weeks ago, and in the small wood that borders our northern field I found three small kittens, one orange, one brown striped, and one Siamese-looking,  mewing piteously.  So I gave them some food and water, but when I checked back later they were gone.  Oh well.

A few days later, elsewhere in the yard, the orange kitten emerged alone from the underbrush and began following me around, so I took him inside and gave him food, and a day later took him to the vet for a checkup.  But there was no sign of the other two, even though I searched over the next few days.

Harry took up residence in my office and gradually lost his shyness, chasing his ball and jumping up and down on my keyboard with glee.  But every few minutes he would stop playing, look around the room and start to cry.  He obviously missed his siblings, but there was nothing more we could do.

Exactly one week after Harry arrived, we were walking down the road late at night when we heard a crash in the underbrush and the two missing kittens came tumbling out a few feet away, meowing loudly.  My guess is that they recognized my voice as being that of The Food Guy.  I easily snagged the Siamese-looking one, but the little striped one bolted back into the bushes.  So midnight found me crawling through rusty barbed wire and poison ivy with a flashlight and a plate of Fancy Feast.  After a few minutes of discussion, Gus decided to come back to the house as well.  And Harry doesn’t cry any more.

Pictures of the kittens from those days can be found here.

I want to write more about Harry, and will link here when I do, but I’m not ready yet. There’s also the fact that Fuzzy Wuzzy, our enormous bobtail cat, is pretty seriously ill right now with a urinary blockage aggravated by veterinary incompetence.  Don’t get me started. And Harry’s brother Gus has his own problems, most likely a thyroid condition, still under investigation.

None of this comes cheap, of course, so if you’ve ever wondered when the right time to subscribe might be, this is as good as it gets.

Meanwhile, I discovered that it was possible to set up a Word Detective page on Facebook without actually being personally on Facebook, so you’ll see a link to that in the lower right column. You can’t “friend” me, but you can “like” the page, and every little bit helps.

And now, on with the show…

10 comments to July 2010 Issue

  • Richard

    Dear Word Detective,

    My sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family on the loss of Harry.


  • Charlie N.

    Sorry to hear about Harry. We lost our sweet Blue-point Siamese years ago and I still think of her often. She too would follow me around.

  • Craig Scheir

    Sorry to hear about Harry. Semper Ubi Sub Ubi – that’s the first Latin phrase our teacher taught us. It still serves me well.

  • Mary F

    I’m so sorry to hear about Harry; I’ve lost a pet in the past and it’s devastating (a cute little dog we had for 14 years). You’ll eventually only have good memories of Harry!

  • Hey there, I’m very sorry to hear about Harry; it hurts so much to lose them. Having them is still worth the emotional risk, though. Thank you for being so kind to all your strays, too.

    And for your bobtail cat’s health issues, check out a good organic cat food store and talk with them. My cat Murphy had the same problem and my vet put him on Hill’s. Murphy hated the food and much of it was going to waste. When I talked with a friend at a good pet food store and compared ingredients, I found that Hill’s was doing nothing good and possibly even making the situation worse. Since I switched to better food Murphy scarfs it all down and there have been no urinary tract problems.

    I’m keeping a close eye on the litter box but I’m hopeful that the better food will take care of the problem. The price is about the same as the vet-recommended food, maybe a bit less, and he eats it all. No waste!

    Sorry to preach but I feel like I was mislead by my vet, too.

  • Felis_Sidus

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    For whatever comfort it may give… Harry’s symptoms sound like heart failure. It’s not uncommon for cardiomyopathy to go undetected in cats until they suddenly collapse. I’ve know this to happen event to cats who were companions to vets. If this is what it was, at least he wasn’t suffering beforehand, and it’s extremely unlikely that there were any signs that you missed.

  • camila

    I´m so sorry to hear about Harry. He looked like a very sweet boy indeed. I know how expensive vets are, but I hope you can continue to take care of the others. I looked at all your kitty photos, and it seems like Harry had a very happy life with you. I am glad you adopted them :)

  • My sympathies on your loss; we too recently lost a longtime feline family member, and the grief was really tremendous, as he was so much a part of our day, and our lives.

    Thank you for sharing Harry’s story, it actually gives me a little solace too to see a friend cherished here the way you have. The keyboard picture is precious.

  • We at are all very sorry to hear about Harry. Just remember that you gave him (and many other felines, too!) a wonderful life.

  • D Renfrow

    This is late, but I just saw your post. My heart goes out to you over the loss of Harry, and I hope all the other cats are doing well. I looked at the pictures of the kittens–so adorable. They have had, and are having such a great life, thanks to you.

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