Kitty grief can even get a dog person
You don’t think you’ll be upset when the domineering feline bids adieux … but you are.
As cats age they keep a lower profile, but they never lose their sense of place. In our home I am the dog snuggler and John is the cat man.
For twenty years that waif of a tuxedo cat, Kitty, had been part of our lives. We picked her up from the side of the road. Though tiny, when we walked in the door she took on the dogs immediately and would hammer their canine noses to establish her position.
I am a fan of birds and tried so hard to keep her indoors. I used to get so angry when she’d refuse to stay in the house. She pushed past our dogs and beat it out the doggy door, up a tree, to the roof. I would dispatch my husband John with a ladder and fishing net to retrieve her. Neither he nor she was happy about it.
Kitty and I were at odds. She knew instinctively how to annoy me and did it daily. Within a nano second of laying my fluffy white robe across our king sized bed ‘bloop’ she was on the robe, nestling in. It drove me mad. I just wanted one thing in our home untouched by pet residual. Was I asking too much?
John liked to keep a glass of water on the side table next to our bed. Kitty would find it, stick her head in it and knock it over. She loved stolen waters. John had to start leaving it in the ensuite to avoid these minor catastrophes on his bedside electronics.
Kitty had a bedtime habit of walking across our heads as we tried to sleep. Our bedroom windowsill was her favourite place at night. “Gawd. Here she comes!” we’d say as we pulled the duvet over our heads. The muffled swearing from under the Duvet did not bother her. Nothing really did.
We kept her bowl of cat food on the top counter of our kitchen island so the dogs wouldn’t eat it. Kitty would fling her soft food around, once again removing any hope of a pristine portion of our house. Cleaning up after her was a chore.
Recycled cat food (aka poop) caused a problem too. F-Troop — our dogs, Frankie and Freckles, loved to sift through her litter for tasty nuggets. They would fling remnants on the floor. Ugh! Stopping them was nigh impossible. I was looking forward to the day this stopped.
I kept the spare room tidy and pet free. It was my favourite place to nap. I would open the door, smile at the bed, and ..and … and a black and white blur would speed past my ankles. Kitty headed for the closet or under the bed or anywhere else. It did not matter how fast I tried to get the door shut. I always managed to extricate her but I worked for the pleasure.
On our property she spent her lifetime outwitting owls, hawks and cougar. Always looking over her shoulder. Bringing living things into the house through the doggy door for sport, (birds and mice.) John became very adept at capturing the birds in flight, getting a towel over them, and releasing them outside.
Twenty years in and Kitty had been losing weight for a while. We were steeling ourselves for the inevitable and planning to have her euthanized. We have rituals when our pets die, and a place to put them.
Rule breaker that Kitty was — she simply disappeared one night. We looked and looked but never saw her again.
Yes. I was looking forward to being cat-free. She was old and I would think ‘come on kitty, let’s get a move on.’ Then she did.
I thought there’d be some relief for all the things that drove me nuts about her. But there wasn’t. There was unshakeable sadness ironically marked by all the places she was not supposed to be. Laying my robe across the bed, with no interruption, was a bit hollow.
That tiny black and white cat Kitty. Who’d been with John and I for all of our marriage was gone. It upset me terribly for weeks. I shed more tears than I thought I ever would over her. Her paw prints, a year later, are still on our windowsill. I haven’t had the heart to wipe them away.
Isn’t that weird?
But I will say the end of the catbox makes me dance.