Heart Leaks

Ode to my Cat

If you are not an animal person, for the love of god why are you still reading this? This isn’t for you my friend, come again another day. I realize that there are horrible things going on in the world right now, and it seems ridiculous to feel upset over a lost cat when there are people in the world going through far worse things. I get it. But, long story short, I’m allowed to feel devestated for the plight of Syrian refugees while also missing my cat. It’s not an either or thing. However, this post happens to be about my cat and not refugees. If animals aren’t your thing, scroll on past. If you are an “animal person,” most notably a cat lover, grab some kleenex and get comfy. Let me tell you about the most wonderful furry jerk-face I’ve ever met….

 

Ode to my Cat….

I got you as a kitten, well, stole you to be exact. Your owner (my then boyfriend’s brother) made a joke about how many mushrooms one could feed a kitten before it “totally freaked out…” Turns out I hung out with some real winners during my 20s. Not long after I ditched the boyfriend and struck out on my own with the new man in my life, a tiny little kitten, all black. My good luck charm.

You were there for the entirenty of my 20s. You knew all my secrets, all my mistakes. Every tiny apartment, every crappy breakup… You annoyed my roomates by knocking over glasses of water, constantly getting into things, scratching at the carpet, etc… usual cat antics. However my favourite was what you did when you were mad at me for whatever reason. More than one roomate noted that you would, occasionally, crap right beside the litter box. A statement. A bold declaration that “oh I know where the litter box is…. take that!” If you were really really REALLY mad you had another way of expressing your feelings… you would crap in the bathroom sink. You may not have been able to talk but you always had a way of making your feelings known. However, for all your antics, you were a wonderful companion to come home to. A furry feline friend ready to greet me when I trudged home from working at the VLT lounge until 3am, or stayed too late at the library trying to finish a paper.

But the deep dark truth of the matter is that you were more than a cat. You were a constant in my life during a tumultuous time. So many choices, so much growth, so many mistakes. During a time of constant change, you were a little root, small but strong, keeping me from getting swept up. Many nights I laid in bed, confused and anxious about an uncertain future. Would I ever meet someone? Would I ever settle down and have kids? Did I want kids? Do I want a career? Am I in the right program? What am I doing with my LIFE?????? The endless dialouge in my head always had a soft, comforting soundrack playing in the background. Your slow, steady purring…. There is something to be said for an animal that has been with you over a decade. They have seen it all.

Moving into my late 20s and early 30s, you made room. First you made room for a new boyfriend, and then also his dog. You accepted these new additions with reluctance, but eventually gave in and poured love onto the new man in my life. If anything I should thank you. I know that, the one time you accidently got locked in the garage when we all first moved in together and peed inside of Sean’s hockey bag, you were testing him for me. Only a man that truely loved me would put up with my cat pissing all over the INSIDE of his hockey bag. Drentching his equipment with a stench so strong that when he went to his next game and unzipped his bag in the dressing room, he immediately realized that you did not pee a little on the top of the bag, but ALL OVER EVERYTHING INSIDE. I have to hand it to you, you made an entire dressing room full of grown men gag and evacuate. Only a man who truely loved me would put up with such nonesense. So really, thank you for making his intentions known from early on.

The really big change happened when the babies came. You surprised me. It started when I was pregnant. I could always tell when I was pregnant early on, because you started laying on my stomach every chance you got. You loved to lay on my ever growing belly and purr. When the babies came you were amazing with them. So gentle and docile. On more than one occasion I caught a toddler dragging you across the room by the tail before I could rescue you. You would let them do anything. When the oldest was 18 months old I came around the corner and caught her trying to fit your entire head in her mouth. You looked like you couldn’t have cared less. Its taken me a while to teach the girls that not all cats are like Poe, not all cats are that loving and easy going.

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I think that’s where it hurts the most. The girls have never known a time without you. You’ve been there from the beginning. We may get another cat, but it won’t be you. Another cat hasn’t laid on my pregnant belly, and then snuggled in for naps at my feet while I nursed babies. Another cat hasn’t been around from the time they were learning to eat, getting hand fed from their high chairs. Another cat hasn’t spent the night at the 4 year old’s feet in celebration of the transition to a “big girl bed” ….

It hurts when she asks about you. It’s been two weeks… and I just don’t know what to say. She was so happy when Auntie Mandy made the flyers, and happier still when we posted them on all the mailboxes. She was so happy when Uncle Kevin came to help look…. but time has stretched on, and the weather has turned cold. Snow is now blanketing the ground…. Every night I find myself on google, trying to figure out what temperatures a domestic short hair can survive in… Every night I call for you, look for you, put out food… two weeks…

The comments get hard.

“It’s just a cat.”

“He probably got hit by a car, indoor cats aren’t street smart.”

“It’s highly unlikely you’ll find him after this much time.”

“The coyotes probably got him.”

“I’m sure someone else adopted him.”

….. it’s hard. The unknown is what’s hard. Trying to explain to a 4 year old when you don’t have an explanation is hard…

It’s all hard. My heart is heavy. My mind is busy.

“How did I not see him slip out?”

“What if I had gotten those flyers up sooner?”

“What if he went to our old house?”

“What if he got into a fight and the ear with his tattoo got damaged?”

“Should I call Animal Services again?”

“What if I somehow missed a post in one of those lost pet facebook groups?”

“What if he got hurt and crawled away to hide…..”

My mind is busy as it’s always been… but I no longer have the calming, quiet soundtrack playing in the background.

As I write this I’m sitting at the desk in the kitchen. I keep glancing out the window at the back deck. I keep thinking I will see you sitting at the door any moment, calling to come inside. I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to stop watching for you. I do know that for the rest of my life, I will always stop to pet a black cat. It will probably take me a good 10 to 15 years before I stop checking their ear for a tattoo. I don’t know what the future holds, and that’s hard. But I do remember the past, and I’m grateful. My sweet little fur ball, thank you for being the tiny root keeping me in place long enough until I was able to grow strong roots on my own. I know you’re just a cat, but you’re more than a cat to me. Something that only a fellow cat lover would understand. xo

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**** Edited to add that, after 21 days, a very dehydrated and skinny kitty cat was found. He had become trapped under a neighbour’s step and when the frost got into the ground and the snow came, he couldn’t get out. My wonderful neighbour heard him meowing and alerted me, we dug him out and I was in tears. He took a full two months to recover totally but is back to his old self. Thank you for all the lovely feedback I recieved from this post. I’m so greatful our story had a happy ending xo

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