The whole reason I moved out of a nice Shamrock apartment into a cookie-cutter U-Heights place was to have a cat. But before I could start looking around, one of the professors asked me if I was looking for one. A stray tabby had taken over his deck. I drove out there with two friends to meet him. He was a big linebacker of a cat, with a broken tooth and a mangled ear from fighting. But he ws the most beautiful cat I’d seen. He was extremely friendly. He immediately nuzzled up to me. A couple of weeks later, he moved in.
At first, he hid under the bed. I brought him out only to have him pee on me. He wouldn’t even eat until I cooked salmon one night and he poked his head out enough to gobble some down. For a while, he would only stay in boxes or under furniture, occasionally coming out to pee on things. He had (and never really lost) a fear of bathrooms. But one night he came out and we lay next to each other and I petted him. A few months later, he was my best friend at a time when my world was in motion. I’d broken up with a girlfriend, my parents had divorced and moved out of the house I grew up in. But he was there for me.
For the next few years, it was just me and him. I would come home late at night and see him sitting on the top of the couch. He would get up, stretch and come to the door for me. When people came over, he would come out, nuzzle and roll over to have his belly rubbed.
When I got a second cat, he came over and started bathing her. He took care of her for me. The first night, she woke up and meowed in fear. He bathed her until she went to sleep. Whenever stray cats would be outside, he would meow at them in a friendly way. He was never territorial.
For ten years, he was the most loyal most friendly sweetest cat you could imagine, playing all the time and talking in chirps and purrs. As time went on and my life filled with a family, we weren’t as close. But we would still have our moments when he would lie in bed with me and just purr.
A couple of months ago, he started vomiting on a regular basis. I took him to the vet and they did some bloodwork that showed little. A week and a half ago he stopped eating. The vet wanted more tests, but I was determine just to get him to eat, not to subject him to all sorts of poking and prodding. Saturday night, he stopped even eating the food I would give him. And this morning, he crawled into my room, meowed a few times in agony and then died in my arms. I took him to the ER and they said the could resuscitate him, but for little purpose. He was gone.
He’s wrapped up in the closet right now. I keep checking on him to make sure he’s really gone. I keep expecting him to start that deep sleeping breath that was almost like a purr. I keep expecting him to come out and bite my ankles for food.
Eleven years isn’t a long time for cat. I’d hoped to have another five years. But I think he wanted to go. Whatever was ailing him, all the X-rays and ultrasounds in the world would only prolong it. He’d want to go this way. On his feet. With me.
Sorry if this post rambles. I haven’t slept all night. Something told me to stay up because this was the end. Later, I’ll wrap him up and bury him under his favorite tree with his favorite toy. I don’t know if there is any such things as a spirit. But if there is, he’s still with me. Always.
Pleasant dreams, big guy.
PS – I can’t figure out how to put pictures on this blog. I’ve put a picture of him up at Right-Thinking.