Monday, November 16, 2009

I Miss My Cat

He died last Tuesday.

He was my first child.

I got him 13 years ago at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter, for seventeen dollars. In exchange, I got 13 years of love.

He was my bridge from being single to living with my boyfriend, getting engaged, getting married, having kids.

He came into my life a few years after I'd lost both parents. My closest family member was nearly four hundred miles away from where I lived, and at the time, I wasn't dating anyone. I didn't have a roommate, I was working full-time from home, and I was in regular need of a hug.


He was in need too -- not just of hugs, but a home. A three-year-old who'd been brought in by his owner, for no reason that was shared with the shelter, he'd been in a cage for ten days and had already won the hearts of the staff, who dubbed him Marmalade because of his coloring. I couldn't take him home the first day I saw him, because I'd come without a cat carrier -- I didn't own one. But it didn't take me long to bond with him, because he meowed each time I walked by eyeing other cats, and drew me in with his gorgeous honey-colored coat with creamy white highlights around his cheeks, nose and eyes, and creamy chest and paws tipped with white, and his tiger-like tail, full of rings. When I offered to scritch his head, he knew a good thing and he promptly flopped down, belly up.

It was love at first belly rub.

I was back with a borrowed cat carrier when the doors to the shelter opened at seven thirty the next morning.

After a quick whisk to the vet, where he was weighed, inoculated and declared "somebody's love muffin" by the smitten doctor, I brought him home. I introduced him to one room at time in my West L.A. two-bedroom, and each time, he'd come back and "buuuush" me with his head to thank me, and meow as if to say, "It's all mine now? I can live here? With you?"

I dubbed him Honey Bear, because he was honey-colored, soft as a Teddy Bear, and simply brought to mind those bear-shaped honey dispensers you can get at the supermarket. He had the sweetest dispostion and gentlest nature of any being, human or animal, I have ever met.

He was a high-maintenance kitty, but worth it.

He demanded food at ungodly hours. He stood on hind legs and poked me with a paw if I neglected to feed him or break for lunch or stop working in time for dinner, or stayed too long on the couch watching TV before bed. He took up half the bed and most of the covers. In his last four years, when he battled lymphoma and endured chemotherapy, he demanded lots of medicine, costly treatments, and even, for more than a year, nightly administration of IV fluids. But, as the vet once said, "He never gave us a moment's trouble."

Always, he was there for me. Through the ups and downs of my romantic life, till I finally settled down, he was a constant comfort.

He moved with me, living in three apartments.

He allowed himself to be adopted by my boyfriend, who became my fiance, and then husband ... and made a man who'd never had a real pet turn into an adoring father willing to take allergy shots to be around him.

He taught my husband and I how to be parents, how to put our "child" first.

He saw me through surgeries and miscarriages and the birth of my twins.

He saw us both through those crazy first months with two babies.

He somehow cajoled my husband into being chief belly-rubber, and the love sessions between the two of them became a regular feature of their lives. I've never forgotten the night he planted himself atop my husband's chest when my husband had cried out from a nightmare. My husband always told the cat, when the cat settled down on his side of the bed, "Puss, you honor me."

But always, always, always, he was my cat first, my guardian, my mascot, my Patronus.

He was unfailingly gentle. He never bit save in play, and then, he would barely leave a mark. He never scratched except by accident, even when I sat him down and put him through the torture of cutting his nails. He rarely hissed -- maybe once, at a visiting human who smelled of cats, and maybe once at another cat at the vet's. Never at me. Never at a family member.

If I made the bed, he got under the sheets.

If I put a blanket down, he sat on it, assuming it was for him.

If I read the newspaper, he lay atop it.

He would often sit on my desk and get right between me and my computer: if I had to work, so be it, but he was going to be a part of it and that was that.

He would sit in a chair at the table during most meals, hoping, mostly in vain but not always, for a handout -- chicken, fish, or even better, the chance to lick a cereal bowl's residual milk. Boldly, he'd leap onto the table even though he was lifted off time and time again. More than a few times, he managed to snag somebody's supper before he was caught.

But mostly, he was just here, content to hang around me, a being whose very presence in my life kept me grounded and safe and enveloped in the sure knowledge that I was loved, no matter what.

He left the world just as my kids, nearly five, were starting to really appreciate him, wanting to feed him, giggling when he licked treats off their little hands, and marveling at watching him lap up water.

I'm glad they got to know him at least a little.

By watching me and their dad take care of him, they learned about being gentle to animals, about how they didn't always come first, about softness and sweetness and coziness, and about how great it is to have a little bit of nature, a touch of something wild, in your home.

But he was my cat, not theirs. He made his loyalties known time and time again, ushering me into the bedroom and plopping down in his accostomed place on the bed, sharing not just body heat, but the simple comfort of being in each other's company, and I was the company he loved best.

As I write this, I am thinking of an old Hoagy Carmichael song that captures the many, many nights (and days) I was fortunate to have with the cat I named Honey Bear. Funny, I never sang this one to him -- mostly I sang him a version of "You are So Beautiful," with lyrics rewritten to refer to a cat, to which he would meow in call and response ... or my own bastardized version of "How Are Things In Glocca Morra?" (I retitled this, "How Are Things in Honey Bear-land"). But it's this Hoagy song that best captures my feelings for him and, I think, his feelings for me:

It's not the pale moon
that excites me
that thrills and delights me
oh no
It's just the nearness of you

It isn't your sweet conversation
that brings this sensation
oh no
It's just the nearness of you

When you're in my arms
And I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams come true

I need no soft lights
to enchant me
If you'll only grant me
the right
to hold you ever so tight
and to feel in the night
the nearness of you.

33 comments:

Diana Birchall said...

What a beautiful tribute, Holly. I understand. I cried!

I wonder - did your cat lie on your manuscripts on purpose to keep you from reading them? Mine do. Just as a writer sees a beautiful creamy blank page as the doorway to endless adventure and creativity, my cats see a good old Warner Bros pile of xerox paper as the obstruction keeping me from paying attention to them. They plump down right on said paper as I attempt to read, and won't be budged. (They've also broken quite a *lot* of computer equipment, but that's another story.) Endless laughter and love - that's a cat.

Jessica said...

Honey Bear is greatly missed, Holly.

Late Blooming Mom said...

Diana --
Yes he loved loved loved lying all over WB work, and also getting between my keyboard tray and the monitor and preventing me from turning pages of whatever script was in my stand-up bookstand. Reminds me of the Sondheim song BEING ALIVE: "Somebody sit in my chair, somebody ruin my sleep..." I miss it all. Hugs to your kitties.

Late Blooming Mom said...

Jessica --
I know you miss the Bear too.
Thank you.
Hug that Sammy for me.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog by chance, typing "I miss my cat" into Google.
What a lovely story.
Our guys died in 2008. They were littermates we brought home when they wwe 12 weeks old. They were the loves of our lives. My little princess died first after a long and courageous battle with CRF. Her brother followed her 5 weeks later. They had always been inseparable. We will all be together again some day.
We had them nearly 22 years.
They were my only children.
They are the only ones I'll ever have had.
I miss them.

reilly810 said...

I also came upon your blog by typing "I miss my cat" into google. I miss my Charlie so much. I lost him Thanksgiving morning 2010. Nothing has been the same in our home. We wish our future children (I will also be a late blooming mom) could have known him, for all that met him were blessed.

Thank you for your words.

Anonymous said...

I had to put my 16 year old cat Sammy to sleep last night due to kidney failure and I'm a mess. Typed in to Google "miss my cat" and here I am. I had him as a single woman for nine years, then as a married woman and then an older mom. I'm thankful to have found your post...it was beautiful. I think we were blessed to have such wonderful animals in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Missing my cat who died 3 months ago (Amanda's urn is in our hutch), I sit and stare at her urn when nobody is looking.

I typed into the Google search bar "I miss my cat" and found you that way as well.

Your post is beautifully written. I miss my kitty even more. She was with me for 16 or 17 years. She took me from high school into college into parenthood/marriage/adulthood.

I love her and miss her. It's touching to know that others feel the same about their pets.

Yes, she oftentimes got between me and my work or other things. Those are some of my best memories.

Love,
Sean

Dimwit said...

I put my wonderful kitty to sleep earlier this week. He was 14 with renal failure and lymphoma. I, too, googled "I miss my cat" and found your post. I miss him so much and truly feel heartbroken. I am comforted by your stories. Thanks so much. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I put my cat to sleep a little over a month ago, but the pain is over my head like a gloomy cloud.
She was a happy cat and my family and i showed her great amounts of love, she was a family member and will always be apart of us. They cant be replaced and will forever live in our memories. Honey Bear, My cat sophie, and many more will never be forgotten. I pray for you and pet owners everywhere. Thank you so much.

LoveHomer said...

My Homer.19 lb brown tabby. The best cat Ive ever had. He was my best freind and constant companion.Homer dissapeared 4 days ago.All of the stories I read on here are heartbreaking but I cant help but think Id prefer any of these scenarios to my own. I will never know what became of him or how he died. I will never have closure. I feel like Im gonna die from this grief.

Tracey said...

Love homer I feel your Pain and know exactly how you feel. He was staying with his grandparents and I was going to take him back after I got back from a trip. Apparently he went missing while I was gone. His grandparents lived in the woods. I'm fairly certain it was a fisher and I can only pray that it was quick. Teddy was also the only child I may ever have and I miss him every day. Sometimes I'm fine but then suddenly at work I will have to leave to go to the bathroom to cry. He was a handful but an adorable one he's the closest thing to unconditional love I've ever experienced and I wish I had been there for him when he met his demise:( I will always feel guilty about that.

Willow's Mom said...

I too found you by typing in I Miss my Cat. Willow did not come home 6 days ago! I am left with a physical pain in my chest. She was my "found" cat just two short years ago. She crawled up our garden starved and battered. Our Jack Russell dog rushed up and encouraged her to come to the house "You will be Ok here. My humans will take care of you". And we did just that! She blossomed into a beautiful ginger girl and we named her Pussy Willow. She was loving and gentle. We all loved her and she graced vistors with her total acceptance and affection. How I wish we had not let her out that evening last Wednesday. I just knew when she did not rush back to me with her collar bell tinkling that something was wrong! My husband Barry went looking the next morning and found what little remained of her. I too grieve that I was not there for her to save her some way. I grieve that her last moments were ones of fear. I look for her all the time hoping, hoping it is all a terrible mistake. I take some comfort in that we all who have posted here have somehow immortalised our fur babies by posting just a little about their lives and the impact they have had on our lives on this post that I understand that on the World Wide Web is forever. All ou babied live a little on this post. Thank you all for sharing your love and grief, it helps mine just a little.

jan said...

Another "I miss my cat" Googler, here.

Your story was so lovely and touching and boy oh boy did it hit close to home. We lost our Beatrice on Thanksgiving night. She was 15. When I got her she was six weeks old and I was 20 and we were the others only companion. I'm 35 now and totally unsure how to live my life without Bea. I have loved and nurtured and adored her for so long... and now, nothing.

Ciao said...

I just lost my Damian two months ago. He had a stroke, and the vets told me it was a vestibular illness (middle ear disease) and that he would recover. For two weeks, I force-fed him and he did start to improve. Then, just as he started to use the litterbox himself, he jumped out paralyzed from the waist down. He was in so much pain. I took him to the vet, where he died in my arms.

He was so precious to me! I bottle-fed him from infancy. I was only sixteen when I found him, and I bottle-fed him every three hours (day and night). He was my rock as I set out on my own. He saw me get married, and divorced. He moved with me NINE times, although I had numerous people offer to take him home (yeah, right). He used to plop himself right in the middle of my textbooks while I was in university. He jumped up on the wall of the shower, just to hang out. When I got home from work and bent down to untie my shoes, he jumped on my back and rubbed his face all over me. He would never hurt me. I loved him so much. I am moving again for the first time since he died, and I just can't stop crying. He always moved with me, and now he's not here.

I just wanted to let you know that I understand how much you loved your kitty. Sometimes I wish I had never had mine because it hurts so much right now, but I know he will always be in my heart. Thank you for your post. It helps me realize that there are others who loved their furry friends as much as I loved my little buddy.

Anonymous said...

I cried reading this! Makes me sad to think that, one day, the kitty sitting on my lap right now will pass away. Don't know what I'll do with myself then. </3 God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have had my cat Benny for 9 years. Every night for those 9 years he has cuddled up next to me and slept beside me. When it is cold he has been my little heat-slave. He is such a loving cat. In 5 days, it is unfortunate that he will be moving without me to my dad's house.
See, about a year ago, my dad applied for and accepted a new job-- 400 miles away. So he bought a new house there and we are in the process of moving. However, I am not going to move there at all. I am 17 right now, and I will be a senior in high school this coming year ('12-'13). I am going to finish my high school education here. It would really suck to move away from all of my friends for my senior year... which is why I am staying.
So, we have to put our house on the market, and in order to do that, there can be no inside pets.
I feel terrible on the inside because I am going to miss him, and I know he is going to miss me. It will be hard sleeping at night knowing he isn't there. The few times he has had to stay overnight at the vet, I didn't sleep well. I don't know what I will do with myself when he isn't here. Perhaps I will cry at night, or maybe I will have insomnia, or even go through a terrible depression. I am already becoming depressed knowing I won't have him in matter of days.
When a loved pet dies, we think about all of the great things they did for us. We also miss them very much. But usually, their death was sudden and unexpected. My cat isn't necessarily dying, although he has FIV, but what is so upsetting is that all the love and affection he shows me, I know that in a few days that that will all be a thing of the past- but he doesn't. He doesn't understand why I have been so extra-attentive to him the last couple of months. He doesn't know why I have been crying around him the last few days, and he is starting to get scared. It is the absolute last thing I want for him to have to leave me, but we have to do it. I wish things hadn't turned out the way they did, but I guess I wouldn't know just how much I love Benny if this weren't happening.

alimac said...

I too, like many here, came across this post by googling.

I lost my cat, Sadie, who was 14 1/2 years old from diabetes last June. It will be a year in two weeks (29th). I got her when I was 7 years old, she was my first best, my best friend and my constant companion.

I tear up as I write this because I miss her so much - she was always waiting at the front door when I got home and followed me around the house. Sadie trusted me with her well being and I only hope I gave her the best life possible.

Losing her was the start of many changes in my life - Me and my boyfriend (who was there with me when she passed) have blossomed in our relationship, moved in together and have 4 cats. I found a cat, Minnie about 3 months after Sadie's passing and she had 4 kittens.

One of her kittens has "manx syndrome" so I think of her as a true blessing. Between my mom's household where I moved from and my new home there are 7 cats.

But no cat will ever replace Sadie.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
I lost my beloved cat Raiden 6 weeks ago. He was my constant companion for over 11 years. And the emptiness caused by his passing is overwhelming in a way that is difficult to explain. Your post articulated my thoughts and feelings perfectly.

Anonymous said...

I am the 'anonymous' who posted in 2009...the one who lost her feline guys who were her only children and had almost made it to 22. Well, they are four years gone and we still miss them deeply and talk about them every day. Thing is, now we are talking
more about the joy they brought to the world and to us. If only I could feel that silky fur or their warm weight just for an instant..in memory I do but if only, if only.
Thank you for your poem and this page.

Anonymous said...

I lost my beautiful Wiz Fiz yesterday, she was 18 years old. She found our family when I was six. I sympathise completely with all of your stories, cats are so special and become a part of your lives like no other animal could. My heart breaks that my Wiz is no longer here, and I feel like my heart is broken so I will never recover all the pieces. I miss her so much already.

Anonymous said...

I lost my beautiful girl 4 weeks ago. She would have been 18 last week. We have been through so much together - marriage, divorce, medical school - she brought me so much joy. I've just turned 40 and am single and childless and feel so empty and alone. It's like my heart has been ripped out and I feel like I have nothing to offer my patients anymore. I can't sleep, I miss her so much. She was old but it was still sudden and unexpected and I didn't know what to do. I failed my best friend - the signs were all there that she was getting sick and I missed them. I thought I had another year or so with her. I miss her so much.

dan-o said...

To Anonymous and all who bash themselves for 'missing the signs,' you will realize in time you missed nothing. You would have missed had you not known the unequivocal, unbridled love which only God and our furry children can give. I wish we humans could offer same to each other, but I have neither seen nor experienced it in my 54 years. I ache every day for the only children I will ever know -- Luna and Henry, both strays, gone within 15 months of each other after 12 years of surprises, laughs and tenderness so dear and sublime it breaks my heart. For me, the sobs and tears always find their way to solace when I consider this: if my sole purpose this time around was to but save the lives of two non-humans, to show them love, to provide a haven from what could have been, then this life was not in vain. However small a purpose it may seem to me, I am constantly reminded by the photographs left behind -- it was not small to them.

Anonymous said...

I also had to get my beautiful Sophie put to sleep, 3 days ago. I miss her so much, and I keep expecting her to wander into the room. I still don't know quite what went wrong, but I'm comforted by the 14 years we had together, from my single days through to marriage and kids. She is an irreplaceable member of our family, and I will never forget her.

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous who wrote
"Anonymous said...
I found your blog by chance, typing "I miss my cat" into Google.
What a lovely story.
Our guys died in 2008. They were littermates we brought home when they wwe 12 weeks old. They were the loves of our lives. My little princess died first after a long and courageous battle with CRF. Her brother followed her 5 weeks later. They had always been inseparable. We will all be together again some day.
We had them nearly 22 years.
They were my only children.
They are the only ones I'll ever have had.
I miss them."
back in 2009 and came back in 2012 with them four years gone.
We still think of them and talk about them every day. But with time, the good memories and smiles outnumber the sad, sick-cat days and bad memories. That's hope. I am glad to see this blog still here for us who find it via googling.
Aloha, mahalo, love is stronger than death.

ACHNYC said...

I’ve just read your beautiful love story for the second time in a row. My own most precious, most beloved and adored feline soul mate died 19 days ago. I cried deeply when I first read your tribute (and this time too), and I have not been able to stop thinking about your words. What you’ve lovingly described about this special and rare kind of devotion, echoes perfectly my relationship with Foo, and I can hear and feel all of the motherly love and grief that filled your heart when you wrote this. Foo, I’ve always said, was sent by God to be, not simply “my cat”, but to be my son. That is how he and I loved each other, from day one when he was a mere baby in my arms right up until the moment he died 12 years and 8 months later, also in my arms. He loved me with a steadfast vehemence that I am certain I did not deserve, especially from a creature as pure and good as he was. Just as you’ve said about your baby, happiness for Foo and for me was simply to be with each other. I used to tell him regularly that the world beyond our apartment door was big and wide and filled with all sorts of people and animals and things he couldn’t possibly imagine, but that he was, without question, the thing I loved and longed for above all else. When he employed his signature “Foo flop” and pressed himself as close as he could to my side and I encircled him with my arm, it was, for me, the purest kind of bliss I’ve ever known. We, too, had lots of little songs and nursery rhymes modified to include his name, but my favorite tune for him was “Baby of Mine” from Dumbo. When I think of him now, I’ll also hum “The Nearness of You” which I’ll never be able to hear again without tears. I know that I have to go on without him, but I also know that my world will be always somewhat diminished, somewhat less rich, without this perfect creature who was in some magical way, my own heart and soul made wonderful, furry flesh. Your story has moved me and comforted me in a way that is immeasurable. Thank you. I’m saying a prayer tonight for my Foo and your Honey Bear, thanking God for giving them to us and asking him to hold them dearly until we are reunited.

Sarah said...

Thank you LB Mom for your beautiful post, and all Commenters for their thoughts as well. Like most, in the modst of sadness, I simply typed "I miss my cat" into Google, and here I am.
I lost my cat Bugsy a couple of weeks ago. He was an unusual breed, Pennsylvania Snowshow, sort of half-Siamese, with bright blue eyes that almost looked like Day-Glo in the sunlight LOL!! He was 18+, and since 2010 had battled ailments including the loss of an eye to cancer, and prgressing kidney disease. I thought I was ready to let him go...but I think we all realize it is so much harder when it actually happens. I've been lucky to recently get 2 little orphaned kittens, brothers, who I have been bottle-feeding and now finally weaning. It's funny, as much as they bring me joy, I still feel emptiness, missing Bugsy. This is what I wrote this weekend, trying to get my thoughts on paper.....

WISHES FOR BUGSY

So many times in Bugsy's last year, especially after, already blind, he lost his hearing too in the autumn of 2012, I would find myself missing seeing a cat romping happily about the house or yard. Able to play, hunt, see, hear, chase small creatures and catch them… I even found myself missing my daily task of cleaning up chipmunk tails, mouse feet (or other unmentionable parts!) on the porch each morning. I'd think of the fun of getting a new healthy kitten - and then guilitly banish the thought as soon as it rose up. I’d refuse to look at any newspaper Pet ads "kittens free to good home"...but every time I'd see Bugsy wobble unsteadily towards his food dish or litter box...put out a paw blindly to find a step, bump into a wall, change course methodically til he found what he was looking for, my heart would constrict, and I’d think of a healthy new kitten, unfettered by age and infirmity.....and then I'd scold myself for being so selfish, wishing for a new healthy cat.....when I still had my Bugsy.

So now Bugsy is gone, and I'm blessed with not one, but two healthy young kittens, charging about with boundless energy, ears pricking at any small sound, eyes finding any toy, even a tiny bit of string with tissue attached (bird training!)...glowing with the energy and health that Bugsy lost bit by bit. And yet - I find my heart is not filled as I'd expected.

And I realize that it isn't a new kitten I'd wished for, even as little Joey and Josh give me joy as they play and wrestle and snuggle and purr. It's that all along I was only wishing for Bugsy to be restored. The kittens are wonderful....but my wishes, always, were for Bugsy. Just for him.

Wishes for Bugsy to be whole again, to have both his eyes, his hearing, no pain in his hips or back, able to roam his yard, lounge in the sun as King of the Porch, spy stray rabbits or birds, chase them, catch them.

And return to me, trotting up the path as I whistled for him, chirping a happy greeting, tail up, blue eyes shining.



Anonymous said...

I'm sobbing as I write this- I Googled "I miss my cat" and found your lovely post. My Smokey died a few months ago, and I miss him so much it physically hurts. He would follow me around, all day, every day, for the precious years after I rescued him from the shelter. Right before we would go to sleep at night, he would let out this long exhale of a sigh/purr and I cannot believe we'll never be together again, I love and miss him so much. I love you so much, dear Boots. I can't wait until you're in my arms again.

Laurel Bern said...

I lost my Peaches at age 16 3 weeks ago. Not only is he the exact description of your baby, his behavior was the same as well. So affectionate. Okay, not at the vet. Then, he turned into a raging tiger about to get his tail cut off.

I picked up his ashes today. They're sitting in his favorite spot in the deep window sill in the sun. [if the sun ever decides to appear again!]

He was my best friend and got me through some very difficult times. I memorized everything about him and promised him months ago that we would never leave each other...

This is so difficult.

Anonymous said...

I am not a Mom and never will be. He was my only child. I had Bubu for16 years. It hurts me to write his name. He was a tiny kitten when my boyfriend ( now husband ) and I bought him for $ 40. The pet shop had put him in a cardboard box ( with air holes)tied with string. He had broken out of his prison before we had even left the shopping centre. I had to put him down the front of my shirt to keep him secure. He slept with me nearly every night of his life and I know he truly believed I was his mother. He was an extremely ingratiating animal and refused to accept my non cat lover husband's rebuffs. Consequently he too misses ' Our little boy'.
My next pet will be a dog because no other cat can replace him. Mummy misses you so much Bubu. I will never stop loving you.

debbie said...

I'm so glad I have someplace to pour out my feelings right now. I lost my Whiskers yesterday after 19 years of being my best friend. I hurt so much. Our house has an empty feeling without her.I pray to God all day for this pain to go away.

Anonymous said...

I miss my baby boy Twink.
You were my friend for seven years
Daddy loves you so much!
I just couldn't let you go on with renal
failure and lymphoma.
You were a beautiful creature who only loved
his Daddy.
My house and heart is empty without my baby boy.
I see and hear you everywhere I look in your favorite
places around the room.
I miss you baby boy
I just do

Anonymous said...

I lost my baby boy, Buster Orange on 10/1/2016 at 17 years old. He could be a pain in the butt meowing to go inside and outside after only a couple of minutes. Later in life he was only an indoor cat. He had renal disease. He always slept by my side and put his paw on my arm. He greeted me when I came home from work. I tried to save him from this kidney disease crisis but was unable to. I've read all these stories and feel as all of you. Something is missing now. it hurts so bad when you lose a pet that really loves you unconditionally. I've listened to that song "my buddy " sung by Lena horne. The words ring true " your buddy misses you".