An Uncommon Cat

March 13, 2009 at 8:02 pm 2 comments


(aka The Cowardly Lion)
January (?) 1990 – March 12, 2009

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~Mark Twain

I let Leo go today. I had been waiting for him to tell me when he was ready, and readied myself for his decision. Not that you are ever really ready, and not that it is ever easy. And not that I don’t think he would have tried to stick it out a bit longer. But I am calm and at peace with the decision that I made and, even though I would have loved to have another day or week, I know that it was inevitable and it was the kindest thing to do.

My vet, and my pet-sitter (who works at my vet) were wonderfully supportive, gentle and compassionate. They made him as comfortable as possible, with a soft blanket and lots of quiet time, gentle hugs and soothing voices. And then, they cried right along with me. They have known Leo for as long as I’ve lived where I do now — so that’s about 8 years, or almost half his life.

I knew Leo for 19 years. Longer than any relationship (save for my immediate family) I’ve ever had. He was with me through several nasty break-ups; a cross-country move (and back); and the deaths of both of my parents. He was endlessly patient and uncomplaining of my sometimes complete lack of attention or even presence, requesting nothing more of me than I was able to give. He was my feline hot-water bottle, always there for warmth, comfort and a gentle head-butt when I was sick, down or just needed a friend who wouldn’t say too much, ask too many questions or provide any unwanted advice. Just listen and offer up an ear or chin to scratch, and velvety coat to stroke.

Even though he was well into middle age at the time, he tolerated with remarkable grace and a complete lack of spite the new fur creature who came into my life: the endlessly exuberant, almost dangerously bouncy Molly. They came to be fast friends, although Leo never gave up the upper hand, err, paw, to Molly. Even though twice her age and half her size, Leo was totally the boss of her. They shared the sofa, the bed, the pull-out couch in the TV room and my affections equally. Leo knew he had the preferred spot curled up at the top of my pillow at night, and Molly curled at my side. Frequently, after a long day at work, I’d come home to find them curled up together. Over the past few years, they certainly have spent more time with each other than I’ve spent with either of them, and for that I feel a not inconsiderable amount of guilt. I was glad, though, that they had each other.

From his humble beginnings caught in a raccoon trap, through to his gradual emergence out from under my bed where he cowered for the first six weeks, through to becoming one of the most sociable cats it’s possible to have, Leo graced my life. As my first cat, he taught me about cats–their subtleties and their charms. How they can speak volumes with a flick of their tail or a backwards glance. The special kind of joy that comes from watching them pounce on a toy, and the unique solace that only a purr can give.

I will miss you, Leo and I thank you for being my friend.


Entry filed under: Personal Musings.

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