Cats aren't everyone's favorite. And don't get me wrong- I'm not an over the top enthusiast. But I like them, I think they're useful for pest control, good for company during a movie and I like their haughty style. They're not apologetic, not beholden to our whims, and mostly very self assured. I respect cats.
But Ember, I loved that cat. He passed away early this morning, in my arms. I got up to load the wood stove and decided to peak in on him. We had set up a little sick ward, with his meds and a warm bed etc. When I went in, I knew I had caught the last few moments. So I sat down with him and reminded him that he was good, and loyal, and my friend. And I thanked him for the years we spent together.
He was 9, which for a cat isn't too old, but he was long haired and prone to some health issues. I got him still in college, my roommates and I decided to have an illegal dorm cat. We had a large 2 room suite with a balcony and the tiny orange and white fluff ball bounced between the rooms and sunned himself on the porch. He rode home with me during breaks, often times not even needing a carrier, sitting in the seat like a dog would. He grew to be a very large guy- almost the entire length of my torso with a lion's face.
In my first apartment with an ex, he helped us raise another kitten, and actually genuinely enjoyed the company of other felines. He had less appreciation for the dogs though. He was bold, and still enjoyed car rides- even going to get ice cream with me on a few nights when he was younger.
He certainly wasn't the cat that everyone loved though. With me, he was a giant baby, riding draped across my shoulders like a flamboyant shawl purring like a mad man. But you never knew if he was going to like other men, especially boy children. In fact, he was known to stalk them. I often pictured him as a fierce drag queen, all claws and glitter on the surface.
His purr was unique, he chirped and squeaked which scared me to death when we first brought him home. I thought he was sick, but after vet tests he was fine- just noisy. It was like a squeaky door and more than once he woke me up from a dead slumber with the sounds of his delight at finding himself in a warm bed.
He chased his tail on a regular basis, and who could blame him with a tail so huge it looked like a second pet. Like most cats, he folded himself into small boxes, spilling out the sides but apparently very comfortable. He talked back, if I addressed him he would meow in response each time.
On a regular basis I provide care for animals I know are going to be food. And I make peace with the act of taking their lives so that we may thrive. But it still feels so sad, and like such a loss to know that this animal that I shared my life with has gone.
He wasn't the cat for everyone, but he was the cat for me.