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Casper, Gizzy and Oscar - Talking Cats and Dogs

I don't think I've ever chosen a pet dog or cat for myself. Of all the pets in my life, as far as I remember, they were always chosen by someone else. I wouldn't call myself a 'dog' or a 'cat' kind of person not because I don't like them but because I like them a little too much - if that makes sense?

They're not just 'pets', they're companions and friends. At least that is how I view my relationship with our cat Casper who recently passed away (and our dog, Oscar for that matter). I like to spend time with them, often at the expense of my own productivity.

Casper and Gizzy

Casper Two-Face
After rolling in the dust Casper
went from all black to two tone!
I first met Casper about eleven years ago when I became a part of his family. Back then he had a younger  friend called Gizzy. Gizzy wasn't exactly attention seeking but she was more vocal and generally upstaged Casper for attention when she needed it. Casper was happy to let her. I think it saved him from having to get our attention because he knew whatever Gizzy was asking for he'd probably get too.

The two of them were part of our lives and probably indirectly inspired much of my cat art that I'm known for with their antics. Gizzy in particular would madly dash up anything at speed without any thought for the climb down and how that was to be achieved.

Casper would dash up things too but he wasn't quite as light and agile as Gizzy so often he wouldn't climb quite as high. Though he lost none of his strength in his last year, having witnessed him, from a standing start climb a two and a half metre pole, dragging himself onto the top using only his front legs to pull the rest of his body up.

Gizzy in my Evanston Studio.

Gizzy never passed away. I let her out one night with Casper over two years ago and she just never came back. We never knew what happened to her. She just vanished. I like to think she found her way to somewhere better to live - as unrealistic as that might be. However, until you actually know what happened it doesn't hurt to be positive - since we'll probably never know.

When Gizzy vanished it brought Casper out of being in her shadow. He had to ask for things himself and became more vocal accordingly. It also brought him closer into the family. Casper didn't need a lot of attention. He was quite okay doing his own thing but every now and then he liked to be in someone's company and just kind of sit and contemplate with you (or sleep on your lap if it was evening).

Casper on my desk with
my morning coffee.
Before our dog, Oscar, came along it was Casper who would sit on my desk while I worked on my computer.

Although I love Oscar I never really thought it was the best idea to get a dog whilst we still had Casper. Dogs and especially puppies need a lot more attention so Casper kind of got marginalized again, only more so because Oscar wasn't a cat.

Oscar freaking out over being
so close to Casper grooming.
He eventually learned to tolerate Oscar as a part of the family and, on occasion, Oscar could tempt Casper into a game of chasey but I don't think he ever saw Oscar as anything more than a friendly annoyance.

Though Oscar did teach Casper about food sampling from our meals. When I first started feeding Oscar small tidbits from my lunch, Casper soon found out and both of them became a fixture, not far from us, at any meal time. Casper was more particular. If he didn't like what you let him sample he wouldn't wait around because he knew it probably wasn't going to get any better.

On Casper's last day, he'd been to the Vet the evening before for some antibiotics and pain killers, he seemed to be a little better. He ate more of his breakfast than he had the day before and even sampled some of my lunch. It was quite a shock to see him rapidly go down hill only hours later, in a lot of distress from internal bleeding.

We took him back to the vet in the hope something could be done but unfortunately there wasn't anything  that would have helped. He probably wouldn't have survived an operation in the Vet's opinion.

Although I used to play with Gizzy she always had Casper as her companion. Casper kind of became my companion after Gizzy vanished. He'd spend a lot of time in the same room as me when he needed company and would position himself right in my face if he needed real attention. Once Oscar arrived he did this kind of thing less because he wasn't the kind of cat to compete for attention.

Casper's age and quietly confident nature made him a much better listener than Oscar. Talking to Oscar, I swear sometimes all he hears is, "Do you want to play now?" He'll become a better listener with age I hope.

The purpose of this post was really just to put down some memories of Casper and to a lesser extent, Gizzy and Oscar, in a longer article than a Facebook Status update. Casper was my kind of companion pet. He didn't need a lot of attention and if you really tried you could encourage him to play, if only for a very short time. For the most part he did his own thing but was there in the background, ready to listen to me ramble on when no one else was around and to be a companion.

He thought the Frog Van was cool too (sleeping in the drivers seat when he could get to it. Usually when I was working on the van).

I'm still seeing him out of the corner of my eye and looking around expecting to see him there. I also still think about him whenever I take Oscar for a walk. I used to look back to see if Casper wanted to come out the front door so he could sit out the front until we got back.

I didn't choose him as a pet but he will certainly be missed by me.



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