Okay, so I know I’m not the only one who has picked out a pet, puppy or kitten or otherwise, and been inspired to name them in a symbolic manner or alternatively chose what is typically a human name. For example, my German Short-Haired Pointer was the biggest of his litter. His paws were overgrown for his body the night a brought home the larger than life, drooling little pup. He was built like a powerhouse. I named him Bronson. You don’t hear of too many people named Bronson, but it fit him perfectly and it certainly wasn’t generic. Bronson charged through electric fences like it was nothing, he tripped my grandmother so that she sprained her wrist. Bronson needed to work. He needed more exercise and a harder hand than I could give him. So we sought out the best home for him and the older gentleman had no problem getting Bronson to run after duck feathers. I was sad to let him go, but I trusted the gentleman would give Bronson a life he deserved. I swear I saw Bronson later in a magazine, sprinting through a hoop! A show dog he was most certainly created to be. But this was the end of my parents allowing me to buy a dog. Let me explain further. At an early age, I wanted a kitten. My family had dogs, but I wanted my own pet. This was way before Bronson. I was told no because I was allergic to their dander. But as you may know body chemistry changes and when I got my first apartment, I wanted some company. I picked out two kittens. One, a Calico I named Eliza and the other a black and grey tabby, I called Olivia. Eliza’s name just came to me. She knew she was pretty I think. But the tabby’s name was a name I had always loved. Come to find out the pet store was wrong about Olivia. On their first visit to the vet, I found out she was a he! So immediately I changed his name to Oliver.
Eliza and Oliver had good lives and were great cats. People said I treated them like my babies. Another cat entered my life after Oliver had passed from cancer and Eliza of a heart condition. She was an adoption cat. Her tag outside her cage, from where she stood staring out with one blue and one green eye, read that she had had a litter and had been returned to the adoption center twice. I had worked at this very adoption center so I knew, given her age – about two years – and her incompatibility at other homes, destined her to me killed to make room for more “adoptable” pets.
Immediately I knew I wanted to save her life. I went there for a kitten, but even after her display of fear and “squirliness” when handled, I was determined to make her my pal. I gave her her name before I had even taken her home – Mirabel. It was symbolic because I was looking in the mirror a lot and trying to stop this behavior. Well Mirabel was very afraid when I brought her home and even escaped in the winter one year for almost two weeks. She is of the wild and still is not quite the loving, lap-sitting cap that my two kittens grew to be. But I still hold out hope. She has a scar what looks like could have been from a cigarette burn in her neck area. She is wise beyond my understanding so I love her for who she is and the occasionally rub she’ll let me give to her.
My grandfather witnessed the affection I received from having my cats and he desperately, for months, begged my grandmother to get one. Finally, she allowed him to get a cat he saw up for adoption at the same adoption center. He brought home a plump, white, two-year-old cat. He named her literally after his mother. She went by Ms. Edna Fey. I don’t know anything about the real woman, Edna Fey, but this cat was not a whole lot of happy to say the least. My grandfather kept her, however, but wanted another cat. My grandmother allowed it. This time he and my father picked out a young Mancoon kitten. Orange and white with a fluffy tail and a love for drinking water out of the kitchen sink. My grandfather named him Brandon and just as it always is, it suits the fella quite well. Though I never inquired why the name as since my grandfather has passed.
Getting to the point, Brandon moved in with Mirabel. My dad had started bringing him over when my grandfather was getting bad so they could at least smell each other. So when my grandfather had to go into the hospital for the final time, we adopted Brandon. By now he had grown and was about one to two years-old himself. He found another love, the plastic on envelopes – he tried to eat it. Brandon is best described as a kinda slow (but in adorable way) sweet cat. He was overweight though. My grandfather had fed him whatever was left of what he was eating and at the end of my grandfather’s life, that could have been anything from ham and beans that had sat on the stove for five days or expired deli meats! I tried to keep a watch on my grandfather, and consequently, Brandon and Ms. Edna Fey (she had fleas). But you see my grandfather, Creighton Lamore Patrick, was quite a character and set in his ways. He liked to do thing his way and that was that. He had no problem taking a handful of ibuprofen with a couple of bears or a glass of whiskey to ease him into an afternoon nap on his recliner.
With Brandon now a part of our home, my father continued treating Brandon with table scraps of chicken, bacon, beef and I suppose other meats as well. They called him the “baconater.” The only thing I ever gave my cats was tuna water. I didn’t believe in giving animals human food. If you research it a little, you’ll see that it really isn’t all that bad it seems, but some foods are totally off limits. Of course, you think in the wild, they’re meat eaters so they’re probably feeding off mainly birds (as they really do like chicken.) However, I had witnessed three animals from another family get fed human food scraps. All of them ended up with all kinds of problems and being profoundly overweight was one of them. And as you know, just as in humans, animals are susceptible to diabetes, especially when overweight. And they all died.
Slowly my mother, father and I each began noticing a weight loss in our big, lovable, furry guy Brandon. And then he drastically took a turn to a skeleton. We took him to the vet immediately. At first, I was worried it was one of my cigarette box cellophane wrappers that I had caught him a time or two trying to eat (remember he liked plastic.) I was mortified if this was causing a blockage. The blood work came back, showing that Brandon had diabetes. It’s only been four days he’s been on insulin twice a day with a morning appetite enhancer in the morning. And we are all watching to make sure he eats after his insulin. Which he is doing very little of. I suggested some soft food with a lot of gravy, which he will lick up a little gravy. We are also taking care to notice his drinking habits (he jumped on the bathroom sink two mornings ago and had some water as it pooled.) Further, we are making sure he is eliminating properly. I am watching his eyes too. The cat had these big, huge loving, yet aloof green eyes. And as I’ve become aware of his lifelong illness, I’ve noticed his eyes are weary, red-rimmed and he doesn’t open them wide. He is not getting better. In fact, we know he is in pain because he’s wanting to get in wet, cool places. It is likely Brandon will not be a part of our home much longer.
I wanted to tell the uniqueness of how we come to name our pets and how often we assign them human names or symbolic names. And it never fails to be the most perfectly fitting name. I don’t know the symbolism of Brandon’s name to my grandfather, but hey it fits. And I wanted to take care of him for a long lifetime. I also wanted to put out there the warning of feeding animals human food. It is a commitment to treat diabetic animals like it is very much part of the lifestyle of diabetic humans. From what I’ve researched remission is possible, but the animal will always be susceptible to the disease. It takes a committed human to attend to the animal. I personally knew it wasn’t right to feed human food to a pet. Like I said, I had witnessed the very rapid death of three animals who were given human food (along with pet food.) But I never said anything when my mom or dad put a few scraps of poultry or red meat out for Brandon. I quite honestly was preoccupied with earning Mirabel’s love and for years he seemed fine.
I wanted to tell the story of Brandon and share a piece of advice that people, please take caution in feeding your animal human food. And really, spend the extra cash on a good hard, protein-loaded food that is just not composed of carbohydrate fillers. Like my parents did, they thought they were giving Brandon a special treat, but it backfired. Brandon will always be laid-back, but I’m looking at those eyes, hopeful for their return, and then I will know he is okay again. I try to soothe him. I promised him he would get better. One of the hardest choices is knowing when to let go, relieve them of their pain and remember them just as you would a loved one.