Friday, April 17, 2015

Eulogy for a Cat

Kevin passed away this morning. It may seem odd to some to eulogize a cat, but Kevin holds a special place in the hearts of almost everyone who ever met him. He was a funny fellow, sometimes more like a dog than a cat although never insulted by the comparison. He could be difficult, especially when it came to respecting someone else’s personal space. He enjoyed walking on my head or otherwise curling up against my face so that I breathed fur. There was never a baby – human, cat or dog – that he did not love totally and unconditionally. And he purred – incessantly, loudly, happily. I do not think there was an animal born on the planet earth who was happier than Kevin. But he developed heart disease, ironically enough. He almost died four months ago but earned himself a reprieve at the Vet’s by bouncing back from total lethargy to total suck-up. Yesterday, he did the same thing, but overnight he declined rapidly. He was fifteen human years old. Cats have always been a part of our lives. In fact, I have been called the Cat Man. Many felines have crossed over our threshold, giving us and our children a richness and depth I would never trade away. I love dogs, too, but it was a cat – Kevin – who convinced me to adopt our Chihuahua, Meg, when she was a wee pup. Kevin was born in our garage in 2000. His feral mom decided that was the place to have her kittens. We captured her and had her spayed and turned her loose. We took in Kevin and his brother Sean and hand raised both kittens to adulthood. We know that humans make lousy parents for cats, but we did the best we could. Sean passed away in 2010. When we moved to Montana, we could not bring any of our cats with us, so dear friends took them in. Once we were settled, however, Kevin and Jane, the last two of a household that once numbered 25 indoor only cats, came home. Jane was born in 1999. We adopted her on behalf of our daughter’s good friend, as the last kitten she needed to place. For us, she was supposed to be the last kitten we would take in – in fact, I wanted to name her “Omega.” My daughter wanted to call her “Cinder” because she was so completely black. Diane settled the argument by telling us, “She’s telling me her name is Jane.” But she was supposed to be the last. We all know how life goes; a year later Kevin and Sean entered the household. Now Jane is the last. As much as we love cats, we will not take in any more. The ancient Egyptians would mourn the loss of their cats by shaving off their eyebrows. I won’t go that far. Kevin will be cremated, not mummified. His ashes will go back to the earth, and his spirit has already left for whatever passes as kitty heaven. In my heart, he will live on as long as I do. A photo of him playing with our grandson Xander, when Xander was just eighteen months old, greets me every time I boot up my computer. But I do wonder: if all the pets I have ever had will be waiting for me in the Afterlife, that’s going to be a whole lot of love. And Kevin will be leading the pack.

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