The Maddie in the title of my blog is our dog. But we also have a cat named Bonfire. He came with that name. We couldn’t seem to change it. We tried. But nothing else would stick.
We got him in late November of 2012 shortly after we had to put our previous cat, Winnie, to rest. He was an indeterminate age and had a sister that the woman who was giving up Bonfire had decided to keep.
Bonfire, she said, was not getting along with her new cattle dog. Bonfire, she said, was having litter box issues because of the dog. Bonfire, she said, had seasonal allergies.
As it turned out, Bonfire has elimination issues that had, most likely, nothing to do with the dog. Especially since I later found out that Bonfire spent a great deal of time in the garage where the litter box was located and the dog rarely went in the garage. Bonfire still likes garages and asks to go out into ours almost every day. I leave the windows of my Jeep open so he can climb inside and take a nap on the blanket in the cargo area.
Also as it turned out, Bonfire has chronic rhinitis and sneezes everywhere all of the time. And the litter box problem is actually a chronic elimination problem that we had been managing with psyllium but have had to rethink recently. Luckily he doesn’t seem to mind the unflavored Miralax we are now putting in his wet food.
The woman who had him before us is something of a control freak. Her house was immaculate. I’m sure the snot flying everywhere disturbed her a great deal. That more than anything else probably prompted her to wish to re-home him.
She also had him declawed. The vet who did it botched the job. From the top, his feet look more normal than the feet of most cats who have been declawed, but the vet did not remove enough of the first joint and the claws grew back completely deformed and awkwardly.
On his right front paw, the claws came out of the bottom of the toe leather on the middle two toes. You know, the pads on the bottom of his feet. On his left foot, they came out between the two middle toes. Bonfire has constant discomfort while walking. But it doesn’t stop him jumping off counter tops and the like.
Bernd and I discussed having the situation surgically remedied. We talked about it a lot. We researched it. In the end, we decided it would be more disruptive to Bonfire than leaving things as they were.
He also has an eating disorder. He won’t eat by himself. Either Bernd or I have to stand next to him while he eats. It’s the end result of a long list of changes in his behavior and how we subsequently treated him that began with an unfortunate and very painful (for my husband and me) encounter with a small Arizona King snake. Never try to pick up a cat when he is that extremely agitated.
What this all adds up to is a cat that is very difficult, in many ways, to manage.
Bonfire is the most affectionate cat that we have ever had. He is more like a dog than a cat. He wants to spend time near to us. He sleeps in bed with us, along with Maddie. He loves his dog and often climbs into chairs with her. She’s not nearly as enamored of him as he is of her however.
He loves to go outside. But we can’t let him out on his own. He’s an indoor cat that fancies himself to be a wildcat. He has no idea how to defend himself. He has no fear of anything. Dogs don’t bother him. Even before we got Maddie, dogs didn’t faze him. Not even really big ones.
Loud noises are a bother to him but they don’t scare him. He loves people. He’s a total idiot about how to care for himself outside the house.
So I go out with him and we wander around the yard. This morning, he settled down in one of his favorite spots under the birch tree in our front yard. The light was just right and I thought he looked so pretty and fine that I had to take a couple of photographs of him.
My blog is named for Maddie. But that doesn’t mean I love her more than I love Bonfire. Maddie has few faults and I love her unconditionally, but the lack of faults does make it easier. Bonfire has many issues, but I love him despite all of them. Even when he sneezes in my face at 1:00 a.m., waking me from a sound and peaceful sleep.
So. Here you go, Bonfire. This one is for you.