I got Phil shortly after I moved to Boston in 1993. There was a flyer up at the video store, and I was in the market for a cat. So that worked out well. She originally belonged to some hippies who didn't really take very good care of her. She was 2 and hadn't been spayed, and she also had worms. All I could get out of the hippie girl re: Phil's vet care was "Oh she went to some vet on the Cape." I took care of those two things right away. What impressed me about her right away was that as soon as I put her on the floor in our apartment, she went right to the litter box, though she was clearly freaked out. She made an impression on everyone who lived in that apartment. My first roommate, Tom, moved down to the first floor after a couple of years. When my friend Sarah moved in, she hadn't quite learned about Phil and the awesomeness yet when Tom saw her in the hallway and asked "How's Phil?" Taken slightly aback that anyone would ask about the well-being of a cat, all she could think to say was, "Sometimes she sits like a person," something I still tease her about occasionally. (Never mind that it was true.) Later she realized that everyone asked how Phil was, because everyone who met Phil loved Phil, whether they liked cats or not.
Phil also would fetch things if you threw them, such as balls of paper, or even six-pack holders. Her favorite was this rubber lizard. She had a lifelong lizard fetish. She used to steal this rubber dinosaur off Tom's dresser, until he finally just decided it was now Phil's dinosaur. I remember when she came back from being spayed, she was very weak, and once we got home she went right for the rubber dinosaur, but couldn't pick it up because of the e-collar.
She also would roll over on command. Once she realized that rolling over = food, it was very easy to get her to do this. One morning, she must have been really hungry, and as I was getting her food ready, she rolled all the way across the kitchen.
One of my favorite things about Phil was the "Phil in the Tub Show." She went crazy for the feel of the porcelain or something, and would roll around in it, and dig like a crazy lady, ears back, very intent on whatever it was she thought she was doing. I used to sing "Phil in the tub show, Phil in the tub show," because I decided she needed a theme song.
Phil also smelled very nice. Once, Sarah and I were sitting on the couch, and I out of the blue I asked, "Have you ever smelled Phil?" Without even pausing, Sarah stuck her nose right in Phil's head and took a whiff. From time to time she would comment on how wonderful Phil smelled.
In September of 2001 Phil was diagnosed with lymphoma.(Sept. 13th in fact. Not a good week.) She was generally a somewhat rubenesque little lady, and she seemed skinnier to me than usual. Luckily my paranoia was correct, and we caught it early. After about a year of chemo, the cancer was gone. It was horrible thing to have to go through, but everyone at the vet loved her, and would yell "Yay it's Phil!" when I would bring her in for her weekly treatment. Everyone would spend their breaks visiting with her and holding her. I believe that this had a lot to do with her survival, along with the fact that she didn't take shit from anyone. I thought she was in the clear.
About a year ago, I noticed a weird lump on one of her legs. We took her to the vet, and they said it was just a "skin tag," and was nothing to worry about. It kept growing, and it turned out to be carcinoma. They said that carcinoma is generally not malignant, so they would remove it, and it should be fine. They removed it, but couldn't get all of it, so it came back, all up and down her leg. They decided that the best way to deal with it would be to amputate her leg, and hopefully get the cancer before it spread. But it was already in her lymph nodes. She got used to being a tripod, and got around just as well as usual. But we knew it was only a matter of time. Chemo wasn't stopping the cancer, and really only killed her appetite. So they stopped the chemo. A month ago the cancer was in her lungs. Then this last week she had stopped eating. I brought her to the vet on Friday so they could give her some fluids to help her out, and they asked about her quality of life, which was the entry into whether or not we should put her to sleep. I couldn't reach Collin and didn't want to do it without Collin being able to say goodbye. The vet felt having the weekend to make our peace with things wasn't too much to ask, but by Sunday afternoon it was clear it was time. She could barely lift her head off the ground, and was refusing water (but she somehow found the strength to get to the litter box, in spite of everything). We had to take her to the emergency vet near the Hooters near the airport, which somehow managed to make it even more depressing.
When I thought we'd have the whole weekend with her, I emailed people who cared about her and let them know. My old roommate Nick had this to say: I'm always going to remember the smart crazy adorable cat that came when you called her like a dog. and I can always picture the look on her face when she would itch her butt on the carpet , even though she knew you would stop her.
Goodbye, Phil. I hope heaven is the biggest bathtub you've ever seen, and the Phil in the Tub Show has its own channel.