Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cactus Pete the Maine Coon Cat in Taos

Cactus Pete the Maine Coon Cat stepped into our lives in November of 2005, he was a feral kitten of about 6-8 weeks old. He walked into the Two Graces Plaza Gallery, found our large potted Cactus plant and plunked himself down in the potted dirt and fell asleep. I called Holly and asked her what to do, but wanted to know if we could keep him. At that time we already had two cats both of which were rescued and both of which were tortoise shell cats which I thought had the sweetest personalities of any cat breed. That is until I met Cactus Pete. Last night at 2AM Cactus Pete succumbed to his battle with cancer as he lay in our arms. As you can imagine Holly & I are beside ourselves with grief over this little buddy of ours. We didn't expect to see him pass away at only 13 years of age. The cancer diagnosis was devastating to us We did everything we could to make him comfortable. At Salazar Veterinarian Clinic, while Dr. Love was examining him, he was quite scared. I began to pet him as she listened to his heartbeat. She told us as soon as I started petting him his heart rate dropped and he calmed down immediately. So that is what I've been doing for weeks on end, petting him and sitting up with him through all hours of the night. I'm absolutely fried and frazzled. Last night I knew he was saying goodbye, so we both sat up with him and petted him until he passed. This morning I built him a little coffin and dug a spot under the Butterfly Bush in the garden where he loved to sit in the shade and catch Hummingbirds, Lizards, Snakes, Mice and even Rabbits. A good spot for him to watch all those little critters scamper around him. I've edited and loaded photographs of Cactus Pete here onto my blog as a little tribute to him and for the friends who ask, "How's Pete, I love when you post photos of him, I wish you'd post more." So here they are, some of my favorites with all his personality. 

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” Jean Cocteau

These last few weeks he's been on a couple of medications. Holly would feed him CBD oil along with cod-liver oil and any liquids he'd take just to get him through.

Head butting me and snuggling me trying to get some attention and take over his spot on the couch.

Watching his world through the front windows, sunsets, rainbows, birds and rabbits all right out there before him.

Roaring. We tried to keep a bell and collar on him, usually he'd slip it off. We wanted the critters outside to stand a chance to hear the bell, but I'd seen him leap straight up into the air to catch a hummingbird. He was at one point 22 pounds, but fast as lightening when he wanted to be.

Holly in her upstairs loft studio. Cactus Pete and Miss Tulip would go up there to hang out with her whenever she was painting and drawing in her studio. Photo thanks to Brian Snyder.

He just looks so in charge here. What a personality.

More love head rubs.

Stopping to smell the flowers in the garden that Holly works hard at to maintain. 

Hey look, there's a bird out there, either a flicker, a bluebird or a magpie, all of them caught his attention, but they gave him what for if he got too close.

When it's nap time, it is truly nap time.

Rubbing his scent all over his domain.

This was towards the end when we were just trying to keep him happy and maintain his pain.

Miss Tulip and Cactus Pete waiting in the kitchen for supper time. Holly has always been on schedule feeding them, but if she was 10 minutes late, they'd let her know it.

Our ever present dining companion. As soon as Holly would set the table he thought this was an open invitation to join us for dinner.

Wine snob.

At least he was a polite dinner guest, even though he never did learn to use a knife and fork or even a napkin.

Miss Tulip and Cactus Pete, as always waiting for MORE food, on top of the Shiburri tablecloth Holly made. Before I buried him, Holly wrapped him in this tablecloth which was one of his favorites.

Sometimes he'd bring US dinner.

I learned how much he loved butter, the smell of it even during his last days was something he would never resist. Here he is going after buttery Chocolate Chip cookies on the counter waiting to be baked.

Smorgasbord with Cactus Pete and Miss Tulip.

He's on the prowl.

Sitting on the porch waiting for me to chase him back into the house. As soon as I moved towards him he'd take off into the sagebrush and play a game with me. Never letting me get too close to catch him. He'd walk right up to Holly because often she'd give him treats for being a good boy and coming to her.

Always stopping to smell the flowers.

The garden was part of his domain, now it will always be.

Alice in Wonderland statue in the garden watching over him.

During the last days we put area rugs everywhere for him to lie on top of to make him comfortable, even in the garden. He loved being dragged around on the small rugs throughout the house for his very own magic carpet rides.

Bird watcher.

Each first snowfall Cactus Pete HAD to go out and explore, he'd sit under the sagebrush and watch the snow fall around him under cover. A few times he'd stay there under a bush even with the snow piling high around him. A Maine Coon is built for moments like this. Afterwards I'd take him inside and rub him down with a towel to dry him off and warm him up,


Whether it was time to put the Christmas tree up or take it down, he joined right in to help us with all the wrapped up Christmas ornaments. 

The classic Cat in a bag, hiding out. This is one of the few photos I have of him when he's still quite young. Even at the end he loved crawling into bags. Holly would pick up the bag and talk out loud to him while she carried him to and fro.

Paper bag that he shredded two weeks ago, still in on the cat bag thing he loved to play at.

During his last few weeks we figured out that his comfort zone was to nest in the laundry basket. The sweater that Holly had first wrapped him in when he was a kitten was always available for him to snuggle in.

 “Soft kitty, warm kitty
   Little ball of fur
   Happy kitty, sleepy kitty

   Purr, purr, purr…”

Warm and snuggly by the fireplace.

Even a few weeks ago Cactus Pete still had the strength to climb straight up into the studio loft space up the wooden ladder. He'd also climb up the garden gate to get out into the backyard and go on adventures until he just couldn't do either any longer.

Always joining in to help Holly maintain the Two Graces Plaza Gallery. A knack at Website computer coding!

Helpful as always with my researching articles I'd be writing for Taos News Tempo.

Warm laundry fresh out of the drier meant a happy place for Cactus Pete.

Whether helping me paint and choosing colors or keeping an eye on me to make certain my hand remained steady when completing repair work, Cactus Pete was always ready to lend a hand.

Many of the photographs here are by Holly Sievers. She'd send me PM Facebook messages with photos of her on days when she was at home with Cactus Pete and Miss Tulip giving her support and love as she worked with them nearby.

Every flat cozy space in our home became places to nap or hang out for Cactus Pete and Miss Tulip. Holly always laid out blankets and sweaters for them to be comfortable. I on the other hand always needed to make certain there were no breakables in the way of their cozy spots.

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” Charles Dickens

This is the only photograph I have of the three of them all together, all of them rescued through various circumstance. Cactus Pete (from the Ranchos Church Plaza Feral Cat colony), Rosie the Pink Toed Cat (found by friends abandoned in the New Hampshire woods) and Miss Tulip (rescued at Taos Pueblo after her mom was killed by a car) hanging out watching out the front door on top of the china cabinet full of Fiestaware. Every Veterinarian they've encountered has been a bit in awe of the names I've given them. There have been times when friends ask me tonnage their cats as well. What's in a name you ask? Everything.
Eventually when the right one finds us we will adopt another cat, I'm hoping for a Maine Coon with a great personality.