We lost our oldest and dearest pet last week, Zoë the cat. She was a loving and faithful old cat, and we started and ended just about every day with her for the past 15 years.
When she was young and spry, she would follow me everywhere, even getting mad if I closed her out of the bathroom. What a fuss she’d make, clawing and scratching at the door. She would not be denied, and it didn’t take her long to figure out how to jump up and flick the light switch off. The minute I’d open the door, she would scuttle in and sit on my feet, or jump into my pants, if the situation allowed. She was one smart cat.
She was also the self appointed mother to all of our pets, and when there was no one around to mother, or scold, she would drag various stuffed animals long distances just to place them by her bed and bowls. It took us the longest time to figure out what was going on with this one.
We’d see the stuffed animals in the kitchen, and scratch our heads. We asked the kids if they were bringing her the toys, and they said no, but we didn’t completely believe them. We even started to suspect each other. Then one day I came home early and caught her dragging a teddy bear down the stairs by the scruff of its neck. She had gone up to the bedroom and grabbed it off of the bed.
After that, we always made sure she had a few by her bed, and it soon became a family thing. My mother-in-law liked to bring her little stuffed kittens, and Zoë would move them from her bed to her food bowls and back again, clucking at them and cleaning them. Good old Mama Zo.
We recently had to travel, and Zoë went to our Vet for boarding and tests. She had developed diabetes in her old age, and it was the perfect time for a blood curve. While there, our Vet discovered that she had an infection. She and her staff treated and pampered the old girl until we got back, and she actually seemed to be getting better by the time we took her home.
She was incredibly active for the last week of her life, visiting with everyone and checking out every corner of the house, and in retrospect, I see it as her farewell tour. As the weekend came and went, she started to slow down, and by that Sunday night it was obvious that she really wasn’t getting better. I can’t believe that she fooled us so completely, but I think she was running on pure love.
So, here we are, adjusting to life without our old friend holding court in the kitchen. I find myself constantly glancing over at her “spot”, expecting to see her laying there contentedly in the sun. Her little food bowl and favorite rug are still there, we just haven’t had it in us to put them away yet, but she’s not. It takes a beat or two for the realization to sink in, but it does, and I’m left feeling both happy and sad.
Animals can be unquestionably faithful, giving you so much for so little. Zoë lived to be with us. That’s all she wanted, to be with us. Well, that, and a little kibble, of course. Ecstasy for her was being brushed while she ate. Ecstasy for me was having her snuggled up next to me, purring like a little motorboat.
I take comfort in the fact that she had a long and happy life, and in all the joy she gave us, and I smile when I remember one of the last conversations I had with my Dad before he passed.
He had grown up on a farm and loved animals, and he would cater to our pets when he was with us in the summers. “Can’t be bored here,” he’d say, “The cats won’t leave me alone.”
Anyway, he had just made the move from the hospital to the hospice, and once he was comfortable and settled in for the night, I asked him if there was anything else that he needed or wanted. He was on the cusp of sleep, and I wasn’t sure if he was even going to answer me, but after a pause he looked up at me and said “Get me a cat.”
I guess we know whose lap she’s on now.