not just a cat

Dear Louis,

I a writing this now because I know soon it will be too late.  And then I won’t be able to get the words out of my head through all the grief.

I can still remember the day I brought you home.

I was sixteen and had begged my parents (who both had a very known hatred of cats) if I could have one of my boyfriend’s cat’s kittens. I was just as shocked as anyone when they agreed.

I chose you, Louis, because you were the runt.

Your mom was a very small cat, but your dad was HUGE.  I thought for sure you had gotten your mom’s genes and no one would want you.

You could fit in my hands like a small white ball of fluff.

Black ears that were way too big for your body.

Black striped paws and face.

Looooong black tail.

Shiny blue eyes that betrayed to the world that you were Siamese.

You were the softest sort-haird cat I had ever touched.

I remember naming you Louis for two reasons.  1) it was my boyfriend’s middle name. and 2) it is Eddie Vedder’s (of Pearl Jam) middle name.

Plus I thought it was such a man name…not a cat name.  And that made me happy.

You were so tiny.

The first night we made a nice soft place downstairs for you to sleep.  You had food, water, and a litter box.

And you meowed constantly.

For some reason that night, my mom came in to say goodnight to me after I had gone to bed.  This rarely happened anymore, since 16-year old girls really don’t need…or want…their parents dropping in to say goodnight.

When my mom walked in, I was sitting up in bed sobbing.

“What in the world is the matter?” She asked me.

“I love him so much already, mom.  And someday he will die.  That is what pets do.  You get them for only such a short time.”

“Oh honey.  Why do you always look on the gloomy side?  Cats can live forever.  I am sure Louis will be around for a very long time.  And it’s good that you love him so much.  Because you are in charge of him.”

We both chuckled.  I wiped my tears and went to sleep.

And it’s true, you were my cat since you came home in 1994.

Oh, and you didn’t stay small.

At all.

In fact you grew and you grew and you grew.

Until you were the biggest cat ever.

My brothers and I would have friends over and your largeness would startle them.  But you were never mean.  In fact, you usually just wanted a nice pat on the head.

Oh, I totally shirked on my duties of keeping your box clean (mom did it) and feeding you (mom did it) and giving you water (everyone did it…upstairs…by the sink because that is the only place you would drink it.  out of a coffee cup), but were definitely my cat.

You were there for my first break-up.

You were there when I graduated high school.

I cuddled you close before leaving for college. (and while I was gone, you found your cuddles from my brothers…particularly from Mike).

After college, when I moved out, you came with me.

That was in 2001.

It’s been you and me against the world since then, Lou.

You stuck by me when I thought my world was crumbling.  You slept on my bed and nuzzled my face and firmly meowed at me when you believed I was oversleeping.

You kept me company in that little house where it was just the two of us.

You gave Cort the side-eye when we started dating.

You moved with me again into our current house in 2004–seven years ago this November.

You continued to comfort me and listen to me.

And when Cort and I were married, you made clear to him you were not pleased with someone getting in your territory.  Remember how you peed on him in the early morning hours two days after we had been home from our honeymoon?

Sorry that you have had to be banned from the bedroom since then.

But you two took to each other quite well.  You even tolerated Cort’s antics with you.

And once Cort was with us?  I suddenly was a slacker at my cat-care jobs.  And even though he cleans your box and feeds you, you are totally still my cat.

Every time I cry, you suddenly appear next to me, purring and rubbing your head on me.

You stayed up all night with me through my miscarriages and when I labored with Eddie.  You paced.  You meowed.  You pawed at the door for Cort when you felt that I needed help.

You always hated kids.  Every kid.  You would growl (yes, growl) and hiss at them without running from your place.  Like you weren’t going to give in to some small spazzy person.

But when Eddie came along, you turned to a mush pile.

You would meow when he would cry.

You would curl up next to his bouncey seat or lay next to his activity mat as if you were supervising.

You still don’t like little kids, but you still let Eddie do whatever and you are so very patient with him.

He used to crawl after you.

Then he would chase you.

Then he would pull your ears and tail and fur.

Now he tries to carry you or put you on my lap or tell you to “MOVE!”

And you take it all in stride.

Because he is your boy.

You used to run all over the house and jump on the furniture.

You used to eat us out of house and home.

You used to be up before us pawing at our door for food and company.

You used to.

Now, dear Louis, you are seventeen and a half years old.

Your kidneys are failing you and your thyroid doesn’t work like it should.

You have lost your appetite and can’t even walk down the stairs to your litter box anymore.

We have to lift you onto the furniture so you can cuddle near us.

And you are so thin and so frail.

You won’t take your medicine.

You won’t eat your food.

And despite us bringing you a litter box upstairs?  You have still used the floor.

I am terribly afraid, my dear Louis.

I cry knowing that our time is getting shorter.

And I think of that young girl I was crying because I loved my kitten so much.

You have been with me more than half my life.

You have been the one “person” that has been true and loyal through my hardest times.

Your fur holds my tears and my secrets.

I hope I have given you a blessed life, Louis.

And I hope I can continue to make you feel loved for the rest of your days.

Thank you for being my family.

I love you,

Me

*************

I didn’t include any recent pictures.  I would rather remember him all fat and cuddly than how thin and frail he is now.

He has a vet appointment on Tuesday.  We will find out if he is in pain then.  And no, I can’t make him live in pain, so we will find out then what our “best” route will be.

Yes, this hurts.

Fiercely.

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