I’ve taken, of late, to closing my cat Spirit in the bathroom at night with food, litter, water, a couple of places to sleep—he seems to like the sink—and a toy; all to prevent his sitting outside my bedroom door at anywhere from 5 a.m. on to sing me the song of his people at full volume. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to mind his bathroom exile, since I lure him in with cat treats.
The second night I did it, listening closely for the click of the latch as I closed the door, he somehow managed to open it, thus freeing him to resume his serenade. Thenceforth, I have closed the door, listened for the click of the latch, and placed a canister of cat litter against it to dissuade him from being able to force the door open even if he can unlatch it. The problem there was that as I refilled his litter box, the canister of litter grew lighter and lighter until this morning he was outside my bedroom door at 5:25 with a medley of his favorite wails.
This afternoon, I bought two canisters, one of which will always be full and of sufficient weight, I hope, to keep him in.
And as I pondered our battle, I couldn’t help but think of Thomas, who will always hold a special place in my heart. Like Spirit, Thomas was jet black—thus establishing my ever-since preference for black cats—and, I’ve always thought, proof that both people and animals have guardian angels.
How Thomas and I met is one of my favorite stories. I was living in Los Angeles, at the time. Near my home there was a huge swap meet held every weekend, and I went regularly just to wander around and occasionally pick up things I really didn’t need. One Sunday I had just entered the swap meet grounds when I saw a tiny black kitten, obviously lost and/or abandoned. I was afraid someone was going to accidentally step on him, so I picked him up and took him to the swap meet office to see if anyone had reported losing a kitten. The man laughed and said, “People drop off animals here all the time” and went back to whatever he’d been doing before I interrupted him.
At the time, I had two large dogs and certainly didn’t want to add a cat to the mix. So I just wandered around and if anyone noticed the kitten, I’d ask if they’d like to have him. No one did, until one woman said, “I’d love to have him! I’ll give him a wonderful home!” I gratefully handed the kitten over to her with thanks, and went about my business.
An hour or so later, as I returned to my car in the middle of the gigantic parking lot, I was just about to open my door when I heard a “Meow.” I looked down, and there was the same kitten I’d given away an hour earlier. I decided that someone was telling me something. I picked him up, put him in the passenger’s seat, and went home.
I named him Thomas, and he was with me for 14 years, moving with me from Los Angeles to Pence, Wisconsin. Given the fact that time does tend to blur the bad times in favor of the good, Thomas was truly a wonderful cat and companion.
And then, as is inevitable with cats and people and all living things, Thomas grew old. He would spend the night in my basement and come up to greet me in the morning, until one morning, he didn’t. I went down to the basement and found him lying on the floor, still alive, but I knew his time had come. I picked him up, carried him up to the living room and sat down, cradling him in my lap, petting him, until he was gone. I don’t remember if I cried or not…I probably did. But to have been there with him, to hold him and let him know he was loved even in his last moments, is something that I will never regret.
Spirit’s time will come, as will mine, and I wish us both the knowledge, at the moment of passing, that our lives meant something to others, and that we were loved.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).