Photo: Dan in his last year. He was very frail. He loved to be at the table with us while we worked.
Dan was our second older cat. He was about 8 when we found him. I had gone to the pet store for supplies and decided to look at the cats that were there for adoption. There were three little boys surrounding a large cage, poking their chubby little fingers at whatever was inside. I stood and watched for a moment. I was concerned at the way they were acting towards the animal, and due to the size of the cage I figured it was a dog. It was not a dog. It was a cat named Goliath.
Goliath was a huge yellow Manx, so large he had to be carried in a medium sized dog cage. The first thing I noticed about Goliath, other than his size, was that he sat unusually stiff and not moving. He was staring straight ahead and I could not get him to move or look at me. I told the young lady volunteer that I thought that he might be in shock. She agreed but that bringing him to adoption day was his last chance. I thought to myself that no one would adopt a cat that did not respond to sound or movement. So I went home and spoke to the family and it was agreed I would go back the next day and get Goliath.
When I got to the pet store the next morning, he wasn’t there. The volunteer told me that he had been left at the kill shelter. I asked if they could get him out and I would take him. This is how Golith became Dan. Dan earned his name over time.
In the beginning, Dan kept to himself. He did not rub our legs or mark the furniture with his cheeks. Dan just sat close by with his stiff posture intact. If you rubbed him he would stiffen up and was obviously suffering from some sort of trauma. He would howl at night and had to be held like a baby with a blanket to keep him quiet. The vet had given him a clean bill of health except for arthritis.
It took several months but Dan finally realized he had a home where he was safe. He had already accepted me and warmed up to our family and his new litter mates. He sunned himself on the deck and oversaw the other cats hunting exploits. Once he even went out and brought back a nice mouse, and sometimes the other cats would give him their kill. Sushi did this once that I actually saw. I am guessing it happened often.
Dan loved riding in the car. The second time we took him to the vet we had five cats with us and had to hold Dan in the front seat. He put his paws on the dashboard and just took in all the scenery. A few days later we had to take him back to the vet and I discovered I did not even need to hold him. He put his paws on the door window and again just watched the scenery. The next time we had to take him out, I went with him alone. He sat in the passenger seat and just enjoyed the ride. It was very much like having a dog in the car only with less drool and noise.
As he got older, Dan’s pain worsened. He became demanding and easily offended. He would eat his food too fast and leave it all over the house, and have to be fed again. He was always malnourished for his size, and he almost always missed the litter box (we bought a really big covered one for him). It seemed we were constantly yelling Stop Dan! No Dan! Dan’s response was always the same, he grumbled like an old man under his breath and walked away from whatever damage he was doing swishing his tailless behind. Dan was the perfect picture of misery and martyrdom.
His mental state along with his arthritis were a toxic combination but he still had quality of life. He was a very majestic animal at 14 inches tall when sitting, from his front paws to the top of his head. He never weighed more than 11 lbs. during his life with us, but must have been an awesome sight in his youth.
He howled when left alone for any length of time and could only be soothed through calm speech and warming him close to your body like a baby. The other cats respected him. I think they sensed his pain and understood. Dan was put to rest in 2013. His body was ravaged with arthritis and bone disease. His quality of life had diminished and he was in pain more often than not. It was winter and he stayed cold all the time. I bought a small electric heater and made him a special pallet next to it to keep him warm. Sometimes he would get so close to the heat, I would have to slide his blankets back away from the heater to keep his fur from catching on fire. One day he did not get up at feeding time. He looked at me and his pupils were dilated and his breathing was rapid. I knew then he was in horrible pain and we knew it was time for Dan to finally rest and go to sleep.
We did our best to give Dan a safe and loving home his last four years and I like to think that in the next life, Dan will be there, swishing his tailless behind and grumbling under his breath.