A year ago today my parents had to put Troll to sleep. Troll was the replacement cat for Patches, the venerable old kitty who lived with us for 19 years and who is buried under the resurrection lilies in the back yard where she liked to hide and watch the world go by. Our family went catless for a few years after her death, but we eventually missed the feline companionship, and Troll came to join us. (And by us I mean them; my sister and I had already moved out by the time my folks adopted Troll.)
Why Troll? We're Norwegian, see, and there's no better way to honor your heritage than to name your pets after elements of your heritage's culture. But with us Norwegians, there isn't a rich lode of adorable pet names to mine. My sister got the best one long ago: She named her cat Loki, after the Norwegian god of mischief. After Loki, the cool choices drop precipitously. Personally, I would have picked Lutefisk (a traditional white-Jell-O-looking dish of cod soaked in lye) or Lefse (a potato pancake that looks more like a napkin than a food) as pet names before I would have picked Troll (a generic figure in the folklore of many cultures). But Mom and Dad liked Troll, so Troll it was.
Anyway, Troll was a pretty good cat. She was always charming, always friendly and (almost) always willing to be petted when you needed some kitty love to cheer you up. Her head was installed a few degrees off kilter and she had a HUGE belly and a scraggly little tail, so she was funny-looking enough to be amusing even when she was trying to be dignified. And she was briefly christened Tickle-Me Troll by Dad during that Elmo doll fad because she'd burp out a cute little meow-purr every time you touched her.
One of my favorite Troll stories: Mom was having a fussy-little-old lady meeting at the house one night, and Troll managed to jump her chubby little body up on the fireplace mantle, plop down right in the center and start licking her ass with ravenous earnestness as the ladies sat around eating their finger sandwiches and talking of Michelangelo.
But when my niece began to crawl last year, Troll apparently mistook her for feline competition and started peeing all over the house to mark her territory. My folks tried changing her diet, sprinkling the entire house with stuff designed to dissuade cats from peeing and even putting her on kitty Prozac. But she wouldn't stop, and her many charms were soon eclipsed by the frustration they got from living in a giant litterbox. Dad said she pissed her way out of a pretty good deal.
Dad, who always pretended he didn't even like cats, was ironically Troll's favorite in the house. She followed him everywhere, and he always had to make a place for her on his lap or next to him when he read or watched TV. He also got elected to take her to her final visit to the vet. It was actually a pretty devastating day for our family, but we keep her memory alive by reminiscing about what a great cat she was -- and when the house gets particularly humid, we still remember exactly why she isn't with us anymore.
So rest in peace, little kitty. We miss you.