Feline love story

By Mary Sharry
Sun contributor

A soul mate is one with whom you share the same ideas, someone with whom your thought world is so alike that words are not necessary. Politically and spiritually you are on the same page, sharing a heart to heart, mind and body connection. Hand to hand, this bond is recognizable in our human relations. What about our relations with the animal kingdom, house pets, mainly? Well, perhaps not politically, but in a spiritual and physical way as in this story we share a heart to heart comfort in being close to our pets, our furry family member.

She was four years old when we adopted her. The adoption papers noted that she had experienced stress prior to her being turned over to the animal shelter. We knew she’d most likely be terrified to experience something so stressful as strangers, us, as well as our unfamiliar habitat. She was gray with medium length fur and she had bright, jade green eyes. She sported a handsome smile with her white moustache and bib. Her name on the adoption papers said Roxy, but she didn’t look like a Roxy to us, so we changed her name to Kitty Cat and hoped she wouldn’t mind.

Kitty Cat, we realized, would have a difficult time adjusting to her new surroundings with us, so we introduced her to the house as easily as we could starting with the bathroom where we had placed a litter box which she took to at once. When we opened the bathroom door to let her explore the rest of the house she sought shelter under the couch. Coaxing with food and softly calling did not bring her out. We decided it would be best to let her be through that first night. In the morning I noted that there was less water in her water bowl, although food placed in her food dish before we turned in had remained untouched, but she had again wet in the litter box. No amount of coaxing could get her to eat, though. We tried every kind of tempting cat food on the market. She weighed 15 pounds when we brought her home and now was down to 13. Fortunately it was the food of last resort, or so it seemed, that she began to eat; and then she ate and ate and continued finding places to hide around the house after she’d had her fill of food. In time, she began to crawl out of the dark cover and explore — a closet, a place behind a stack of paintings and best of all, the basement with mysteries behind the washing machine, some stacked bushel baskets, a soft pile of laundry. Still, loud noises such as the snapping of a pillowcase when folding laundry or the unfortunate banging of a cabinet door sent her scurrying. We tried to be careful. It took almost two years before she seemed to fully trust that her surroundings were completely safe. In that time, though, she had learned to trust us and found that our laps were warm and comfortable places to settle, and that was when she began to own us.

We were as gentle with her as, well, as with a kitten. I talked baby talk to her, something I’d never done with my children when they were infants. I told her what pretty little white ‘toofies’ she had when she yawned, and called her names like baby girl and sweetie kitty. She didn’t mind! She stretched out in the sunshine on the floor or sat at the window watching birds — she was quick to spot chickadees. She’d watch the cedars bend and sway in the wind and falling leaves or snow. She would follow us from room to room. We didn’t leave her sight, nor she ours. Like soul mates, we were attached. When Bill was at his computer, Kitty Cat took over, lying on the keyboard, putting her paw on his hand when he moved (what else?) the mouse. When I lay on the couch to read it was a signal for her to climb onto my belly. I would read to her until her paw would reach up to my hand. The message seemed to be, put the book down and pay attention to her, cup her head in my hands, stroke her ears. We two, on the couch, Kitty Cat and I, belly to belly.

We were smitten for almost nine years, head over paws in love with our Kitty Cat, and life was good. Nearing her 13th birthday, though, she began to show sickness. Her body functions gradually began to shut down. Trips to the vet, tests, medicines, special foods and ways of food preparation, even enemas, nothing restored the lively interests she once showed playing with toys, growling at some of them, batting them about and tossing them in the air. Pure cat joy! She lost weight and took on a look of fragility, and at last we knew the time had come to say goodbye. I sang to her on the way to the vet’s office, the last trip there.

We are owned by our pets and when infirmity creeps into their bodies we make a decision on their behalf to let them go, to bring relief from their suffering. Someone said that when an animal ages it seems to happen rapidly, and so it was with our kitty. We miss her terribly. I hear a sound in the house and momentarily imagine the padding of her paws. I walk into the kitchen and look behind me. Maybe she sits there patiently waiting for me to open the magic box, the door to the refrigerator. When I lie down to read I expect she’ll jump up to join me. We were that attached, heart to heart, paw to paw.