Sunday, September 14, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Not only had I never heard of a ‘wegie,’ I didn’t even know I had some

DebraDeAngeloW

By
From page A9 | November 25, 2012 |

For the first time in nearly 14 years, there’s no kitty greeting me at the door after work. No kitty alarm clock meowing at the first hint of dawn. No warm, purring coil of fur next to me on the recliner.

Angelo is gone.

My fat, furry, faithful little friend was spared the misery his brother Milo endured, ironically, exactly one year ago. Angelo was put down on the Friday before Thanksgiving, the same day Milo finally succumbed to kidney failure. This was my first experience with ending a pet’s life, and “wrenching” doesn’t begin to capture the experience of grief and empathy smacking headlong into each other like two rams on a hillside. Through tears, you summon the fortitude to place your pet on a soft towel, and stroke and soothe him as the veterinarian slides a needle into his vein.

And then, he’s gone.

Life just stops, right there under your hand.

Talk about cognitive dissonance — you just participated in ending your beloved pet’s life. You made the call. You made it happen. That final image of Angelo slipping into the beyond keeps flashing through my mind. I still struggle to come to terms with what I did. My brain knows it was the only choice. My heart is still working on it.

Putting Angelo down was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. But I’d learned a lot from Milo’s illness and death. I knew what was in store for Angelo; I’d learned that keeping an animal hanging on until the last moment is not the kindest choice. I’d learned that prolonging the dying process isn’t the same thing as prolonging life.

What I didn’t learn until after Milo passed was that he didn’t have simple kidney failure. Milo, and Angelo, had polycystic kidney disease (PKD), where huge cysts grow on the kidneys, shutting them down. Toxins accumulate in the animal’s blood and organs, and it becomes insatiably thirsty. When they’re not plodding back and forth between the water dish and litter box, they’re vomiting convulsively. Their weight drops and drops until they’re nothing but loose fur draped over skeletons. They’re tired and miserable, and as each day passes, the light in their eyes grows dimmer.

It’s no way for a cat to live. And a horrific way to die. I console myself in sparing Angelo from Milo’s fate by considering that had he been out in the wild, he’d have died months ago, in a fashion far worse than feeling only the pinch of a needle.

I learned one more thing after Milo passed: what he was. I posted his photo on Facebook, and someone asked, “Isn’t that a Norwegian Forest Cat?”

What the heck is that?

I googled it and my jaw literally dropped when I saw page upon page of more Angelos and Milos. Prior to that, I’d never seen any other cats like them. With lion-like ruffs of fur around their necks, and dense, thick coats, both were huge — nearly twice the size of an average cat. Angelo, the larger brother, topped the scales at 22.5 pounds. They were also unusually docile. They never hissed or scratched, and rather than running and hiding when people came over, they’d stretch right out in the middle of the group as if to say, “We have arrived… let the adoration begin.” And it always did. Even people who didn’t like cats were drawn to them.

I attributed their serene temperaments to my superior Cat Mommy skills and their indoor-only lifestyle, but I’d congratulated myself too quickly. It wasn’t me. It was in their genes. Norwegian Forest Cats, called “wegies” (pronounced weegies) by aficionados, originated from cats that traveled on Viking ships. They had to be able to survive brutal cold and harsh conditions, and their job was to keep the vessel rodent-free. As for the docile temperament, it’s not hard to imagine how that was genetically selected for. A hissy, pissy, temperamental cat wouldn’t last long on a Viking ship. One sharp swipe at Olaf, and that cat would be overboard. Only the sweet ones survived.

I researched the breed some more and discovered that wegies have a shorter lifespan than most cats, 14 years on average, and are very healthy and hardy cats, predisposed to few diseases. Except one: polycystic kidney disease. That sealed it. That’s what Angelo and Milo were. Their kidneys were the size of avocados when they died, visibly protruding from their sides like pregnant mares.

Despite the risk of PKD, I don’t think I’d be happy with anything other than another wegie. Trouble is, they’re difficult to find, and that makes them expensive. Yet, despite my cheapskate tendencies, I’d probably pay whatever it costs, and make the seven-hour drive to visit the one and only breeder in California.

Ironically, I got Angelo and Milo for free, from a couple out in the country who had litters of these amazing, beautiful, fluffy kittens once or twice a year. They live on a ranch, and had a cat they’d inherited from a relative that was a superior mouser and kept the barn free of mice. When she had kittens, they’d just give them away. But you had to get on a waiting list to get one — they were that popular. I waited almost a year until my number rolled up, and was there the first day they were available to claim my two cuties.

When the mother cat finally grew too old for breeding, the couple had her fixed and kept one female kitten to keep the line going. Sadly, she was accidentally run over, and the line of the most wonderful cats on earth came to an end. And until I can find another, I’m afraid there’ll be no more pets for me. Once you’ve had a wegie, nothing else compares. Angelo and Milo are — were — proof.

Rest in peace, sweet boys. You’re together again.

— Email Debra at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.edebra.com

Comments

comments

Debra DeAngelo

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Well levels drop around the county as drought presses on

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Snyder pleads no contest in UCD explosives case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

    Psychologist casts doubt on Marsh insanity defense

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Looking for a few good residents

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Try yoga, meditation at Holistic Health Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

     
    Sign up now for free Community Yard Sale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Friday night robbery leads to arrests, dog bite

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Now the weather nut is all grown up

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Video shows slaying of British aid worker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    West Nile virus holds strong in Davis area

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Davis Neighbors’ Night Out brings residents together

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Saylor meets constituents at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawaiian Luau set at Covell Gardens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Portuguese breakfast set in Woodland

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Youths can learn from DHS cheerleaders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Logos plans four events for October

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    White, Gaard will lead Yolo Superior Court in 2015-16

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Fourth annual Capay Crush celebrates farm life

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Climate change rally planned in Central Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Downtown history tour planned in October

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Gibson House hosts plant sale and workshop

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Farmers Market sets Fall Festival

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Memorial playground approaches goal

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

    Renée Thompson to discuss her novel for Woodland Reads project

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Day of the Dead altar makers sought

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    MCCC will present justice awards at luncheon

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    New class offers parenting strategies

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Genealogy club presents virtual tour of local resource

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    University Farm Circle reaches out to newcomers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Garden doctor: Our trees are getting thirsty

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Public invited to 2014 Yolo Aging Summit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    .

    Forum

    Preventing RSV infections in our kids

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    She’s getting all the blame

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    The sacrificial lamb on the altar of denial

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A5

     
    They don’t want him around

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A5

    Unexpected treasures from the summer

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A5

     
    A bad vote for our water

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Bloggers, beware: They might be out to get you

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A12

     
    Bob Englehart cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

    Davis has options on innovation

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Archer has worked hard for us

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Is history repeating itself?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

     
    Time for a progressive PD

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    No more FBS, but UCD’s tough schedule continues

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    DHS boys get a nice win with two big games looming

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Vintage pounds DHS on the ground

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie offense is there, but UCD can’t stop Rams

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Unlikely hero powers Republic in playoff opener

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop a high-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B3

    UCD roundup: Dons do just enough to edge Aggie women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Blue Devils net a tournament win at home

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: A’s get a much-needed win in Seattle

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    Apply now for Davis Community Idol

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Business

    Nugget Markets’ cheese specialists achieve certified professional status

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Talks continue for proposed Old Soul site

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

    Yolo County real estate sales

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A9

     
    University lights way for hospital energy savings

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    Davis leaders celebrate Engage3′s advances

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Doby Fleeman: The opportunity is ours

    By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A14

    .

    Obituaries

    Virnelle Triebsch

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 14, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8