Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The least of my brethren

It seems that my muse arrives pulled by a team of Sorrowful Stallions. I was struck dumb by life this past year until once again I find myself unable to remain mute by the loss of a close friend.

The title quote was meant for another species, for Man. And yet, the intent was that how ever insignificant you find one, they are me. All of the creatures of this planet were made for us by God.

You may see it a bit differently.

And yet. To know one of these creatures over a period of time. To really know them -

interact with them

nurse them when they are sick

share their joy

have them share yours

have them share your sorrow

have them rejoice in the fact that you live, and perhaps acknowledge them, though they find that requirement frequently waiver-able on your part.

I am not a cat person

I am not a dog person

I am not a hamster person

I am not a guinea pig person

I am not a fish person

I love those that I spend or have spent a portion of my travel on this spaceship called Earth on our voyage through the universe and life. Those with whom I have shared this mortal existence, whom I have gotten to know.

Yet again on these pages I mourn the loss of a pet who meant a lot to me. Who shared my life for many years, who was a part of my daily life, and whose absence I find both painful and palpable.

I look around and see her in the hall, in her usual places, waiting for me where she usually was. Look up and expect to see her turn the corner. Enter a room and anticipate her greeting. Sit down and notice the absence of her head butt, "Hey!"

Hear her great me in the morning.

For the first time since we got the futon, notice the empty spot on it in the morning. The lack of her presence during the evening.

This is not real and sadly, will not last for very long.

Life will not wait. The bills must be paid, the traffic fought, time will not still itself. The press of modern existence is immutable and insistent and will not be denied.

So I pray that I can hang on to these images and sounds for as long as I can. I cling to her presence as best I can for she will fade. The images will become less real, the sound of her voice, like her, less vibrant.

So I enjoy this phase of mourning while I can for it will be too brief, a shame for someone who was such a part of my daily life for so many years.

She came to us sick, very sick. A barn cat whose owners cared not whether she lived or died, they had kittens to spare on a regular basis and they were not house cats. I laid on the floor with her the first night in our house, nursing her with Pedialyte and giving her contact and warmth so that she would know that she was not alone and that someone cared. I slept on the floor next to her and nursed her through the night until we could get her to the vet the next morning.

We were there when the vet opened, waiting. The vet examined her, heard what I had done over night and said that had I not done so, she would not have survived the night. They attempted to weigh her on a digital scale, but she didn't even register. 0.0 was all it showed. They gave her shots to treat the parasites that she was infested with - fleas and mites.

The mites became such a recurring issue for her that we nicknamed that condition as ear mice. She never stopped appreciating a good ear scratch, even to her last hour she appreciated that gesture.

She was a mouser of some skill. Mice, squirrels, birds, and other small animals.
Angel on the left as I'll best remember her with her fellow huntress Kayli.

We got her  while in Texas where our master bedroom was on the second floor. In the spring and fall we liked to sleep with the windows open at night. On weekends however, that was a non-starter - the tree in our yard was full of birds that started making noise at sun up.

A lot of birds.

How many? So many birds would sleep in that tree that the entire lower section was covered in white "guano". I couldn't let our kids climb the tree because of how much it was covered in bird droppings.

So, on weekends, I'd get up and close the windows, or just not open them at night.

Then Angel arrived. Kayli was already on hand and a mere kitten her self when Angel arrived. They both pretty much came of age together. Once they were old enough to make it out the dog door, they both became indoor/outdoor cats.

Within two months of that ability we were able to sleep with the front windows open and not have to get up with the sun. There were no longer any birds roosting in our tree. It remained that way until our departure - with the girls.

Eventually, feline AIDS and other diseases caused us to make the girls indoor cats exclusively, something I never really forgave myself for doing to them. However, by the time we departed Texas, all of the other indoor/outdoor cats in the neighborhood had died from these diseases.

All of them. No survivors. Not even one.

That she lived as long as she did was a direct result of that decision.

But she never forgot her hunting days in the outdoors.

As I drove up the street on the way home, the girls would see me in my truck and run up the street. By the time I climbed out of the cab, both of them were sitting by the side of the driveway to greet me. A quick scritch, some petting and they were back off on the prowl.

The next couple of places that we lived had things like alligators, sand hill cranes, bears, wolves, and fisher cats. It was just as well that they remained indoors. She learned to hunt lizards and about their tails.

The mighty huntresses meet Jurassic Park.

We lived in an old building in Vermont where she kept the mice in check. She was the chlorine in the rodent gene pool, a characteristic that my Bride appreciated.

Above all, through all of her 15 years, I heard and saw her almost every moment that I was home. Every room that I entered where she had  preceded me brought a greeting from her. Every time I sat at my desk my shins were head butted by her looking for some attention. Every night she jumped into bed to say goodnight and sleep with me, every morning she greeted me in the hallway upon my rising.

Her presence in my life was so pervasive that my Bride nicknamed her the "Puppy cat" because of how she followed me around. Her presence was so constant that the lack of it is deafening to me.

We spent all of her life together and more than a quarter of my life together.

Renal failure is the scourge of elderly, domestic felines. She was tested in June and was well along the curve of renal failure.

A month later she was gone.

I lay on the floor with her the last couple of nights and days she was here. Just like when we started this journey together.

She was my friend and my constant companion for all of these years and I cannot forget her nor make the pain go away.

Even if she "was just a cat."

For I love even the least of Gods creatures, especially when He blesses my life with them.


  1. I'm so sorry for you and your wife. They are not just cats. They become a part of the family.

  2. Ah Brother Marcus, reading this brought a tear to my eye. The furry ones bring such joy and richness to our lives that it is nearly unbearable to see them pass. But it happens and we must carry on.

    What a beautiful post to mark your return to blogging!

  3. Lovely post, so sad. Reminds me of when I was about 8 years old and someone was poisoning dogs in the neighbourhood. Ours was locked in the backyard, so not out and about but someone still threw her some meat. After a trip to the vet, where we were not sure whether she was going to make it or not, my brother slept on the kitchen floor with her that night,while I lay in bed crying, afraid she would be gone in the morning. But we were blessed, she survived and was soon fine. The pets we have had over the years live on in my heart.