I stopped by my parents this afternoon to drop off some stuff (and invariably leave with more goodies than I had brought) and Dad was pleased to show me how nice Lucky looked after his bath. Lucky is the now 20-year-old polydactyl cat we found as an abandoned kitten when I was a kid. We weren't going to bring him home, but I started bringing him cat food in my pocket and he was unusually friendly for a stray. My father really likes orange cats, and thus he became part of the family.
We already had a punk ass cat named Frisky (but we all called him Kitty) and Lucky took to being an omega cat pretty well. He's one of those cats that seems more like a dog or small furry human than a cat. He comes when you call him (or did before he lost his hearing) and he has rarely shown any sign of snobbery or disdain for pretty much anything (although, he has been less than pleased with some of the dogs we've owned). My mother always said he's a lover and not a fighter.
When I went away to college (over 10 years ago, eek!) my father worried that I would want to take Lucky with me. I agreed that he could be "our" cat but would just stay at his house and I would have full visitation rights. My father really loves this cat and I'm not sure what we're going to do when Lucky dies (hopefully a long time from now), but it will be a family tragedy.
About a year and a half ago, Lucky got very sick. My father agonized over taking him to the vet, fearing that they would just write him off for being so old. But with some medicine and special diets and a lot of nursing from my father, Lucky did get better.
Lucky is too old now to wash himself so he needs a bath once a week, complete with lightly scrubbing his fur and drying him off. At one point for over six months he couldn't eat cat food and my father would puree chicken livers and other gross concoctions for him to eat. He's incontinent now so my father transports him from his pen outside to the crate under the kitchen table at night in a 5 gallon bucket to prevent any accidents. Oh, did I mention he lives in a crate under the kitchen table so he doesn't wander off? Dad changes his bedding regularly and has built him a habitat outside to give him fresh air (completely surrounded by hostas and other foliage and with a shelter to protect him from the rain).
My father is bizarre in many ways, but is perfect in so many of the important ways. Should I ever become disabled or sick, I hope that I get as good of care as Lucky does from my father.
I took the opportunity to get a video of Lucky (3.5MB, mpeg format) while he was so "spruced up" from his bath yesterday. The hand and voice are my father's.