This entry is going to be a little personal. So, if you would rather skip it until the next installment of Monkey Madness I will completely understand. At least you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
This past week has been a particularly awful week. In fact, it felt like watching the end of an era. I should probably mention that we are pet owners and yes, this will be about our recent pet losses. If you aren’t a pet lover you may not understand, but chances are that if you are a quilter there is a good probability that you own a cat or two. Up until last week we had 3. As they were all aging (18, 17, and 9) we figured that the time would come before too long that their health would fail and they would leave us. We just never counted on all of them deciding to go at once.
After sharing your life with another living being for almost 2 decades it’s a bit disconcerting to not hear their footsteps in the house or see the signs of their routines. I’ve never really had a pet that was mine before I had The Meko. For some of you that makes sense, but I’ll try to explain. I’ve had dogs and raised rabbits (yes, its true) but this was a pet that had bonded to me. In fact, it was one of those “at first sight” incidents at our local shelter. I knew I wouldn’t be leaving without her and she was good to go with me. I had her before I got married and it took her years to accept my husband. It was to the point where any time he would get up from a chair or out of bed that she would move to take his spot as if to make sure he knew that she was there first and was not about to be replaced. She slept with me at least a portion of every night. I was her person. Her only person. No one else could handle her like I could. Otherwise they risked a bite or “the look”. We had lots of adventures in those 18 years and I won’t bore you with them. It is enough to know that her personality was such that she warrants a The with a capital “T”. We called her Meko, but her name was Komeko which is a Japanese name meaning born of the tortoise. Fitting for a tortoiseshell cat. There is a Japanese myth or folk tale regarding the tortoise as a sign of longevity. When naming her I had hoped that she would live up to her name. I think she did it in spades. Eighteen years is a long time for a cat and I didn’t want her to suffer but I also didn’t really want her to go. She was the last one to leave us this past weekend and the one I’ll miss the most.
The first one to leave us was Simon. He was a stray we found in our back yard and ultimately we discovered that he was FIV positive. Not to be confused with Feline Leukemia. FIV is like AIDS for cats – it compromises the immune system and is transferred through blood. However, cats can live for years with this and can also live with other cats without passing along the virus. I know this because we agonized over whether or not to keep him once he had been vetted and we had done some homework regarding what to do. The only catch was that if he showed any signs of infection or illness he would require a trip to the vet for immediate antibiotics. He was healthy up until the end and we’re not exactly sure what happened as he was found curled up in his favorite sleeping position. He had one horrible habit that we were at our wits end with, but he was so good with our son and also took over the mousing responsibilities that we could almost overlook it. He did grow into a beautiful cat. Much different from the scrawny short-haired waif we found in our back yard.
The second one to go was our champion mouser. I don’t know that I’ll ever see another mouser with her talent again. We live in an old house and mice get in. It happens. Owly arrived a year after Komeko and shortly after she did we never saw a mouse alive. We have seen her in action, however rarely, and to watch her was amazing. We believe that she taught Simon what she knew and moved into a semi-retired state but she more than earned her place in the house. To look at her you wouldn’t think that she would be terribly graceful. She was larger and chubby and normally moved fairly slow. Unless she was on the prowl. Then she was patient and focused and in charge. I’ll never forget the one time I really saw her in action. She was running down the mouse in the middle of the afternoon and it darted under the closet door. She chased after it and then walked away. I thought I should step in and open the door so she could get the mouse, but when she turned back to me, she already had it in her teeth. I couldn’t believe she had grabbed it either right before or right as it started underneath the door. She never really did bond to us, but she did her job and was a mild-mannered well-behaved cat to which there was no real complaint.
Here are the three of them together. Owly is the one in the middle. This was in the days when I would try take pictures of them for Christmas cards. I know, I’m not always quite right in the head….
As I said, it’s hard after sharing almost 2 decades with another living being it’s strange to not hear the pitter-patter of their feet or kitty crazy hour in the middle of the night or various other signs of their passing. However had that has been, it has been infinitely more difficult to explain to an almost 4-year-old why his kitties are not coming back. I don’t feel comfortable in lying about that – there will be no stories about going to the farm or running away here. We’ll continue to deal with it as it comes for him.
Okay, my personal crusade is finished, but if you have kitties give them a scratch from the small blonde because he’s missing his furry playmates.
Next time, I promise we’ll be back to quilting.