Matt Keenan: The Dorian Gray of cats — There’s zero evidence of aging, and someday she may be driving my Saab

07/11/2014 11:48 AM

07/11/2014 11:49 AM

How long do cats live?

This is not a rhetorical question. It’s an important piece of information I need urgently. Our cat is at least 15 years old, maybe older, and at this rate Sunshine will be my last living heir. And when they read my will, the only one present will be listening from the top of a brown leather chair, staring out the window into a bird’s nest.

I’m willing to accept for the moment all that we don’t know about Sunshine. His/her gender for starters. But I go with her because it fits her personality — meaning she is a big thinker and doesn’t speak unless it’s important. Like “I’M HUNGRY,” conveyed in loud meows.

But her age is what’s most pressing right now. She was a rescue and came with a fair amount of maturity. I’m guessing she was at least 5 then. But that was 13 years ago. Which puts her at 18. And there is zero evidence she is aging.

She navigates furniture like a Wallenda, is prone to disappearing for days at end, when she shows up at the back door it’s not a desperate “let me in” but rather a cool, disinterested, “if you open the door I might come inside but I’m fine either way.” One year we moved and Sunshine returned to our old house and stayed on the front porch until the new owners welcomed her in.

Remember in Homeward Bound when the dogs returned home and everyone was bawling their eyes out? That’s not what happened here.

Bernie, meanwhile, at age 12 hobbles from spot to spot with surgeries on both knees. The Mission Med Vet has a wing dedicated to all the money I’ve paid them. She has a pill drawer that rivals, well, me. When Bernie gets excited, well, remember I said she is old?

Under the search criteria of “cat books” on Amazon, I found 145,000 books. But books on “determining my cat’s age” — nothing.

Consider Sunshine’s lifestyle choices that have prolonged her life:

She’s very well rested.

Has amazing focus factor staring outside the window.

Doesn’t acknowledge anyone until 4 a.m. when she is thirsty or hungry.

Disappears for days while in the house and meditates.

Vocal chords go unused for weeks.

Can’t overeat due to Bernie invading her food bowl.

I thought I would go to YouTube for guidance. There, my search for cats found 23 million hits. I watched a couple and was shocked. Things I’ve never seen — cats playing with kids, adults, even dogs. I did find one video of “how to estimate the age of your cat,” which suggests you check the cat’s teeth. I’m not inclined to inspect her mouth but I know her teeth are sharp. Just ask my toes.

Supposedly the oldest cat ever is Creme Puff, who lived 38 years. If Sunshine lives another 10 years look for her driving around town in a 2002 Saab. And don’t even THINK ABOUT CUTTING HER OFF.

So if anyone is knowledgeable about cats, and can help me answer my question about feline life expectancy, contact me and I will be in over ten minutes. We can visit and maybe you’ll have room for another member of your family.

Me.

I’m leaving Sunshine at home with the kids. She was their idea.

Would you have room for a dog too?

| Freelancer Matt Keenan writes alternate weeks.

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