When I had to put Peng down in February of 2008, he was all of nine and a half years old. He didn't even make it to ten, which means both Guru and Shanti have now outlasted him. I only realized that recently, because even at nine years old, I've long been used to feeling like I had him a lot longer than I've had Guru and Shanti. And of course, until just a few years ago, that remained true. Not anymore! Guru and Shanti are now officially my second-longest-lasting pets. And although they puke with far more frequency than I would ever want, on average their health has been by far the best of any pet I've ever had, given the plethora of medical problems that plagued both Batty (1989-2004) and Peng (1998-2008). Hell, around 2003 I actually maxed out my credit card to save Peng and have a kidney removed, something I'm not sure I would do now, even though I do love Shanti and Guru dearly. I mean, Peng was only five at the time.
Anyway, yesterday was Guru and Shanti's tenth birthday -- estimated, anyway; the date has always been based on how many weeks old they were said to be when we brought them home from Animal Talk Rescue, a no-kill shelter in North Seattle. I only know the cats were actually born in Moses Lake, of all places, because they happened to know -- they would have risked being euthanized had they stayed there, and were sent to Seattle. Shauna used to do foster care for kittens from Animal Talk, and had actually looked at their available cats the very day before Shobhit and I came -- and she saw the same couple of adorable white kittens and thought they were perfect for us. We chose them ourselves without ever having even talked to Shauna about it. So, our cats have always had a special place in Shauna's heart. As they have in the hearts of many of our friends, actually.
Shobhit was so in love with Peng -- the first pet of any kind he ever had; he literally sobbed when we put him down, the only time I've ever seen him do that -- he resisted my plan to get new kittens as soon as my Birth Week that year, only about two and a half months later. But, I was ready, and I felt I had a strong argument: my Birth Week was the only entire week I was taking off of work, and I could stay home with them to help them adjust and acclimate to their new environment. Shobhit's mom was here for her second visit that year so that kind of complicated things -- she always tried to avoid the kittens, who obliviously approached her often -- but it still worked out fine. And predictably, Shobhit fell head over heels in love with Guru and Shanti too, in no time at all. To this day he frets over them way more than I do, and did even from New York and L.A. when he lived out of town for six and a half years. The biggest reason I got the Dropcam (now branded Nest, my "Kitty Kam") was so he -- and I -- could observe the cats from afar. I had to warn multiple roommates about the camera's presence, really only showing a relatively small portion of the carpeted floor near the front door of the condo, and most of them were pretty indifferent to it. Ivan did find it very weird when I first told him about it, but whatever -- hey, Ivan is weird too so we're even.
Anyway, to say these cats have had sheltered lives would be an understatement. I did buy them harnesses when I first brought them home, planning to get them immediately acclimated out outings, but you have to be really diligent with that sort of stuff, and quite immediately. I took them to one of our building's courtyards once, and even to Laney's house (where they were terrified of her dog, which I mistakenly thought they would not be bothered by since they had never seen a dog before). I even once took them to Cal Anderson Park with Barbara and Nikki. But these outings always just freaked them out, so I stopped trying. Now the only time they ever leave the condo is for annual visits to the vet, which of course always freaks them out as well. They are only ever happy as long as the condo itself is their only world.
They've done pretty well, all things considered.
So I posted a couple of times yesterday in honor of their birthday, first to post the link to the ten-photo set I made commemorating their ten years. I wanted it to link to an automatic slide show, but that proved stupidly convoluted and difficult, because the revamped Flickr no longer offers links to slideshow versions (you can see it as a slideshow by clicking the screen-shaped icon at upper right). You can still get a link to the page as a slideshow from the old version of Flickr, but it only seems to work even then when on a desktop computer, and of course most people seeing my post will be on mobile devices. I discovered that, on mobile, it still only goes straight to the first photo in the gallery and you have to click through manually -- and then after the third image the images don't even load unless you refresh the page! What a pain in the ass.
But, I posted a second time with a photo of the cats checking out their birthday candles in the shape of a "10" in their food. I did this before, once on their first birthday in 2009 and once on their seventh in 2015. Just once candle was a lot less intimidating to them, as you can imagine; they even seemed more curious about the seven candles in 2015 than they were in the ten I presented to them last night. I had to wait several minutes before they would both get close enough to the plate for me to get a few pictures. They were a little freaked out by the fire at first, and after a few minutes I think became more interested just because they were hungry and knew there was food there.
I wouldn't let them eat with burning birthday candles in their food, of course. I put one of the circles of food back in its can to save until breakfast this morning, and split the other into their regular food bowls after I blew out the candles and took the candles out.
Under normal circumstances I would have waited for Shobhit so he could be there when I did this, but he once again took the bus to work and was not expected home until around 7:00. There was no sense in making them go hungry for 90 minutes longer than necessary just for that. Shobhit got to see the picture, anyway.
While Shobhit was on his way home I chopped vegetables at his specifications: onion, bell pepper, garlic, celery, tomato, and also veggie sausage, all to add to the magi, a ramen-style pasta noodle that comes with spice packets. Shobhit was disappointed I had not added more water than I did, as I simply followed the directions on the packaging -- something he never does. I guess the noodles fatten up more when you leave them in more water longer. I much preferred the thinner noodles cooked the way the packaging makes it quite clear they are intended, but I'll probably never get them that way again.
I checked out the initial episode of Altered Carbon on Netflix as we ate, figuring Shobhit's interest would be piqued by the knowledge of male nudity being in it. There wasn't quite as much nudity as I expected; the dialogue was honestly pretty hacky; and the most interesting thing about it by far -- the world-building of this future 250 years on -- was really nothing more than Blade Runner (in production design) meets Demolition Man (in concept: the main character has been in hypersleep and wakes up to an unfamiliar future world -- although this time he's also in a brand new body). I may keep watching, but Shobhit clearly won't have any interest in keeping up with it. I then watched a few episodes of Roseanne and he watched those with as much interest as always, before I finally went to bed.
[posted 12:20 pm]