Mimi has always looked with longing out her windows, but as she’s gotten older, the great outdoors is more of a passing entertainment and less of a temptation. Every once in awhile, however, the yearning has power.
Last week, I received a long-dreaded text from my friend Deb.
“Cesar had another seizure. I took him to the vet, and it was time to let go. This has been a bad week.”
Cesar the Cat was her second pet to die in two days. She had had to say good-bye to her beloved terrier Daisy earlier that week.
Cesar was 20 years old, and had first entered her life at the age of six weeks. When I met Deb two years ago, she was afraid his time had come then, and a visit to the vet revealed he did, indeed, have kidney disease. However, cats can live a long time after that initial diagnosis, and Cesar continued to function in a healthy manner.
A few months ago she sent me this agonizing text: “Cesar just had his second seizure in two days. I’m afraid it’s time. I will miss him so much. He is the best cat EVER.”
It wasn’t time yet.
Deb taught high school English for decades, and 20 years ago, she told one of her students she’d name her kitten after him if he got an “A” on his paper. He got the grade, and Cesar got his name.
I wonder what former student Cesar is doing now. Assuming he’s alive (and we’ll assume that), he’d be in his mid- to late-30s. Does he remember his one-time teacher named her cat after him? Did it matter to him? Has he ever owned a cat, does he have children, was he successful in his life?
We influence the world around us, and never know it. Student Cesar would likely never imagine that today, a woman he’s never met is musing about his life. Because of a dead cat. To say I care what happened to him is perhaps a stretch, but in a way, I do. I want success for him.
About the time I met Deb and learned about Cesar the Cat, I was in the middle of drawing a cartoon cat for one of my posts. I named him Cesar. When I showed Deb the drawing, she said, “Yep, that looks like him.”
I had no idea. I had simply liked the name. For some reason, I’d thought CtC was a Siamese, but he was a Maine Coon. The cat I’d drawn did resemble him. Eventually I made some “limited edition” t-shirts featuring the cartoon Cesar, and a couple of months ago I gave one to Deb.
Rest in peace, Cesar Kitty and Daisy Doo. You are missed.
Today I want to remember all the kitties from my past.
I don’t have pictures of all of them, nor is it likely I’ll remember all their names. But Hugo, Petunia, Whittier, Salem, Gabriel, Cassie, Darren, Whitney, Montero, Carter and of course, Paco, you made my life better just by being there in the morning. Even if being there meant you were pestering me for food.
Petunia and Salem
Paco, Montero and Carter.
The Late, Great Paco
Mighty Montero — might pretty, and pretty mighty!
Granted, the quality of many of these pictures is pretty poor, either due to age or because they’re Polaroids (or both). But you get an idea of how blessed I’ve been.
What are the kitties thinking when they peer out at the rain?
I know my Mimi would love to be outdoors, but I won’t let her wander. It’s too dangerous outside the confines of my home, with a wooded ravine in the back and a very busy street directly in front.
I house-sat last year, and hauled the cats over to this pretty place on the lake, with woods and the brush all around. No way in heaven or earth I was going to let them run free. Not only would they likely get lost, whoever did find them (probably a coyote) would discover them covered in ticks and fleas and whatever other grunge lies out there.
I know, there’s medicine for that. They can also stay inside.
Inside is pretty appealing these days, with lots of places to climb and hide. My latest creation? It happened quite by accident when I decided to protect the desk chair at the aforementioned house.
The cats had turned my own desk chair into a fine scratching post, despite having two such already, and I didn’t want to have to spend everything I made housesitting replacing my friend’s desk chair. So I covered it with a sleeping bag. Turns out this makes a great tent for cats. They spent hours under there, huddled together in one furry mass.
At our own home, I cover my desk chair with a blanket when I’m not using it. I should make one thing clear. My laptop is at a different desk, with a different (rather uncomfortable yet decor-appropriate) “desk chair.”
When they’re giving the world that faraway stare, are they sometimes thinking, what’s wrong with our mama? She isn’t happy today. I wish I could make her feel better. You do, babies. When I’m feeling sad, you always seem to know it, and you comfort me.
Do they dream of the big hunt? Right now there’s the occasional bug to stalk, but I usually reach my limit watching that game after a time and kill the thing myself. They tend to let it go otherwise. Unless it’s a flying bug. Walter is adept at catching bugs in flight, and has no compunction eating his capture.
I want my kitties to be happy, so I worry sometimes at their pensive look. But then they’ll crawl into my lap and purr themselves to sleep while I sing their favorite songs. All is well.
On the last day of the late great Paco’s life, I sat in the waiting room at the Cat Clinic, waiting for Dr. Rose to tell me what I already knew.
Paco, some of you may recall, was my best buddy for more than 15 years, a feline friend who saw me through some of my toughest times. I was starting a new phase of my life, and I was at peace with the timing. More change would have been too hard on him. It was time to let go.
He had advanced kidney disease, so I’d known for some time this day was looming. But knowing, being at peace, none of that prepares for you the final good-bye.
As I sat waiting, I noticed a grey tabby mama cat in a kennel a couple of feet away from me. She had been rescued with four kittens, three of whom had already found good homes. It was her turn to be adopted, and the Cat Clinic had cleverly placed her in the waiting area for all to meet.
She was looking at me with such sweet and compassionate eyes, I knew she knew what was happening. I was losing my baby, and my heart was breaking.
“It’s okay,” I told her. “I’m okay.”
She didn’t break her gaze, but shifted closer to me.
“Thank you,” I whispered to her as the doctor called me into an exam room.
It was time, Dr. Rose told me. I would regret waiting any longer. I signed the papers and said good-bye to Paco.
As I walked out, I once again passed the little lady kitty. She looked at me, and I started to cry. I bent down and whispered, “I know you’ll find the best home ever.” She purred softly, her eyes so kind.
The best home ever for this one, I told the vet tech. She smiled and nodded agreement.