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16 January 2009

Elmer Elevator the Maine Coon Cat

Click on the image, he gets bigger.

Elmer Elevator, the Maine Coon cat, died at the vet Tuesday. He was our wedding kitten to one another nine years ago. The "Bubba San's" was the registered name the breeder stuck him with.

"Elmer Elevator" was the name of the boy hero of my favorite kid book, "My Father's Dragon." He ran away to Wild Island to free a baby dragon the mean jungle animals had tied up, to force the baby dragon to fly them back and forth over the crocodile-infested river. An old alley cat Elmer Elevator had fed and let sleep by the kitchen fire had told him about the dragon, because she used to be a ship's cat and had sailed all over the world.

For the first few months, every night when we were asleep in the dark bedroom, Elmer the kitten would savagely attack our feet, and we'd wake up screaming. We thought he was wild and insane. Eventually we saw a documentary about a park ranger who took in an orphan bobcat. Wiggling feet under the bedclothes triggers their instinct to leap on prey crawling underneath snow. The ranger had to teach himself to sleep perfectly still, as we did. Eventually Elmer grew out of it.

An e-mail (slightly amended) to a friend:


Thanks, he was really sweet. Today was devoted to watching how the other three cats are figuring out that something's terribly wrong. The crazy old Siamese was in love with him, so we also called him Tyrone Purrer. And Benny (Benedict Spinoza Cat) and Elmer were just inseparable bestest friends, like Spongebob and Patrick; they hunted together (although Benny thinks the backyard squirrels are his fun playmates).

In Elmer's hunting prime he always brought us back the meatier half of full-grown rabbits -- disgusting, but actually quite tasty-looking, and we were always careful to praise him -- one of us would distract him with a loud show of congratulations while the other one quietly shoved the carcass into a sandwich bag and made it vanish.

He was about 2/3 bobcat. My guess is that a very long time ago there was an unfortunate romantic accident in the woods between some kind of housecat and a bobcat. A more familiar face and fur pattern makes them look raccoon-ish, but of course that's impossible, there wasn't a drop of raccoon in him. He had enormous paws, like catcher's mitts.

We worried about him and traffic, but I'm so glad we let him have his right to be an outdoor hunter. It was clearly the life he loved. We don't own them, they've chosen, they've agreed to live with us, and we have no right to make the house their prison, even if our motives are loving and pure. (Jailers always believe their motives are loving and pure. The prisoners may have a different opinion.)

He would attack and run off full-grown dogs (though we asked him not to). When Spring comes, a lot of neighbors are going to miss him, because we heard from them from 5 or 6 blocks away that he roamed and freeloaded that far away. He was a very memorable-looking cat. He used to lie in wait in the bushes and rush out to attack the mailman, who was probably just too ashamed to be known as the mailman who maced a cat. (Elmer was just playing with him.)

He liked me to spin him around in the office swivel chair, and never tired of it. I gave him a great spin just last week.



patfromch said...

Actually I wantet to shut up for a while and not bother you with my useless stick. But in this case I cannont help but to leave a quick comment.
My most sincere condolences to you and your wife.
I know what it feels like, what you are going through at the moment. I lost my cat in January 2007 after 20 years. It hurt very much and thinking about it still does. I had that cat for most of my adult life ! I didn't have him to the vet though, at least that was a certain relief. I don't know if I could have handled that, I therefore salute your bravery and courage.

Jim Olson said...

Aw, he was a cool cat. And, I can't believe it's been nine years. My 10th ordination anniversary is next guys must have been one of my first weddings. I'll have to look back in my records. Oberon and Diva are both past 15, and I am grateful for them every day.


I'm so sorry, Bob. I know what it's like. I had to take my Schnauzer Bart to the vet last year and I still miss him a lot.

Vleeptron Dude said...

hello hello hello to all (on 2 continents), sorry Vleeptron and I have been so quiet lately, but Elmer's failing health and passing away just wholloped our spirits.

Thank you, danke, obrigado for all your condolences.

Elmer had been getting weaker, and had been in discomfort and suffering, for the last two years. I wanted him to stay with us for much longer -- but he picked his moment to leave, it was sudden and painless, and we weren't forced to make any terrible decision about him.

Now his suffering, and his unhappiness at no longer being able to prowl and hunt outside, are over, and that cheers me up a little.

Besides the very important business of keeping the few mice terrified and out of sight, these wonderful creatures make a home so warm, so comfortable, so cheerful.

And where else do you get a lifetime of Unconditional Love?

I forgot to say -- Elmer made the most wonderful high chirping trilling noise -- brrrrrrIP! I'm going to miss that most of all.

Vleeptron Dude said...

the Maine coon cats, the alley cats, the schnauzers, the beagles, even the crazy talking birds -- they're all waiting for us in heaven. That's all I know about heaven.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Elmer´s big journey to catheaven.
In memeory of elmer look in your mailbox.