I miss my cats.
See, I’ve always been a cat person. We got our first cat when I was 5, and although my allergies forced her into exile in the garage, I still followed her around with all the dedication that a young cat-loving child can muster. For a bit I even subscribed to Cat Fancy magazine, dutifully saving each issue in the event that I would someday have a cat emergency requiring Cat Fancy’s expertise. Our second cat arrived when I was in Junior High, an alternative to the large snake I was eyeballing. My parents were obviously desperate.
When B and I married, we had only been home from our honeymoon for a matter of days before I brought up the cat issue. B, being the excellent spouse that he is, acquiesced to my request and MK came our way. His arrival was really a mistake; the shelter let him go at 4 weeks instead of 8, so he was about as microscopic as they come. For the first few weeks, he had to actually climb onto a plate in order to eat food from it, and he spent a good deal of time riding around in B’s chest pocket or curled under our chins. This is especially amusing since MK eventually grew to be an 18 pound behemoth.
TM arrived six months later when we decided that MK was bored at home all day and needed a companion if we ever hoped to have him quiet down at night. Big mistake. TM ended up being the cat who never grew up, a kitten in many ways and a dog in many others. We tried to do the slow introduction to the resident cat, then grew impatient and tossed them together for the fur to fly. They did fight, regularly and with a passion. MK almost always picked the fight, and TM always won. Still, they were good friends too.
Why all the nostalgia? Because shortly after K was born, M had an extended asthma attack. Since B and I are both allergic to cats, the recommendation was that the cats be removed from the home. We knew it was coming. B had long suffered for my sake, but we couldn’t risk M’s health. And despite our best attempts, we could not find a home that wanted them, so after a week we took them to the shelter. I kissed them both, crying. I continued to cry off and on for weeks, especially after they both were deemed un-adoptable (you can guess what that means at a shelter), then slowly became accustomed to their absence. Until this weekend, that is, when I unwrapped the Christmas ornaments to find the hand-painted cats that we made in their honor. You can imagine my response.
So here, in honor of my beloved cats, is my homage.
MK: You were my cat. You spent your first months curled in my lap, and in some ways you never left. At nap time, you loved the curve of my tummy, tucked against the couch where you would eventually stretch out and paw my face. In the summer you slept on my pillow, your head against mine, and in the winter you crawled under the covers at my side. Even after M arrived, you followed me from room to room, warming to him as you did to me, because of me, because it was the only way you could still be a part of my life. You never did figure out how to purr, just huffed rhythmically as though your engine just couldn’t quite start, and your voice never aged from the kitten-squeak where it started. You would tempt other people into petting you, then bite. You weren’t a particularly nice cat, everyone said, except they didn’t know you like I did, the way you used to love to chase your pesky green puff ball, the way you would come when I called, the way you would nestle against me and sometimes even lick the top of my head. They were wrong. You were a good cat, a great cat; I was your person, and always will be.
TM: I’ve never met a more interesting cat. What a complement, but really, you were a cat of your own. You were not my cat. You were B’s cat. You loved him the way a dog loves his master. You played fetch with rubber mice, knew that a laser dot came from a pointer, and used to open cabinets just to slam them. You figured out how to open the storm door. After we came home from a trip, we had to feed you little bits at a time because otherwise you would eat too fast and projectile vomit. When you ran too much you wheezed, and every few weeks you’d snot all over us for a day or two. It was a remnant of the cold you had when we first brought you home, the one where we had to use baby nasal drops to help you breath. You kept us up at nights, calling, and never did adjust to the kids. You trusted us enough that you landed flat on your side after B once dropped you when I said you believed he’d never do so. That trust was broken when we brought M and K into your home, taking your attention and your B. Despite this, I loved you too. You curled behind my legs at nap time. You were movable beyond belief. You never bit, hissed, or scratched. You loved, plain and obvious, always.
You both chirped at birds. You left balls of cat hair in your fighting wakes, and slept together curled like yin and yang. You traveled with us across the US and back again in ridiculously tiny cages, and rarely complained. You napped with me every day of each pregnancy, wiggling around my blooming belly. You were my companions, my friends, and I failed you in every sense of the word. I am so sorry, boys. You were my first children, and I loved you. You may be gone, but never forgotten. Never.
Depressing enough? Too bad. I feel better now, having shared a little piece of them. It won’t bring them back, I know, but it makes me feel like they’re still here, just a little.