I never thought I was going to be a cat person. I'd always had dogs, but dogs aren't the best apartment dwellers, especially if the owner is never home.
I'd resigned myself to the idea of not having pets until I was an official adult, mortgage and all, when Mr W bought me a cat for my birthday.
He figured, I think, he'd better find me something little to love, or he'd have to marry me and get on the parent bandwagon.
Okay, so maybe he was a little right.
I wasn't sure how our cat and I would get along, but things went well and eventually, I decided we'd need another cat to keep the first cat, EG (El Guapo), company while we were busy at school and work.
Enter Otis, a tiny black cat that I picked out at the Humane Society.
To hear Mr W tell it, it was a not so much "picked out" as it was "stolen from the man who put him down and left the room for a HS staff member."
Isn't possession 9/10ths of the law? He put the cat down. I picked him up. I marched right out of there with him cradled against my chest, and that was that.
Mr W insists the man who was holding him first looked incredulous, then crestfallen, as I waltzed by. Uhm-hmm. But he didn't stop me, did he?
Otis was a handful at first. Unbeknownst to me, or perhaps it was a karmic repayment for the way I "took" him, Otis had guardia, which he promptly passed on to my other cat. Oh, goody. He also wouldn't eat, so I wound up bottle feeding him for a while and getting him up to speed.
Yup, like my first baby, in a way.
Otis grew and grew and eventually, was a quite hefty 17 lbs. He'd sleep against my pregnant belly, he'd sleep against the back of the sleeping toddlers, he would play fetch like a dog.
I was looking at some pictures the other day, and I was amazed to see him in his prime.
And I was sad when I looked at the cat laying near me at the foot of my bed, thinking 'how can that be the same cat' ? Thin, bony, and losing fur on his nose, looking...so old.
He's had lots of issues as of late, aside from the weight loss, and I knew in my heart that it was time. I just couldn't ever bring myself to do it, no matter how many gentle nudges my friend Jane gave me, no matter how many times I had to wash something he peed on. I couldn't do it until I saw him, and really looked at him, earlier this week.
I made "the appointment" and tried not to think about it. The day arrived, and I made myself really, really busy.
So busy that I barely had time to pick him up and make it to the vet.
The vet examined him, as I have been extremely lax and he'd not been in for a long time. I told her how he'd lost interest in grooming, was sleeping for extended periods of time (for a cat, can you imagine?), and his other issues. She and I talked, and I told her that I didn't want to do any crazy "let's turn this around" kind of stuff. There were no guarantees for that anyway, and it had taken me a lot just to get to this point.
I'd told myself I was going to be tough, that I would be fine, but in the end, I was a crybaby like I always am. Audrey asked, "Mommy, why are you crying?" "Your Mommy is sad," the vet said, "because Otis is her friend and he's very, very sick..." as she patted my shoulder, I nodded I'd explain to Audrey and she gave me a minute or two.
At this point, Audrey actually made me laugh, unintentionally. She's just innocent, she's four, and as her father put it when I told him this story, "It's like she's our own little Bart Simpson."
She said, "Is Otis going to DIE? Why does Otis have to die ? Otis is gonna be DEAD." I had to explain to her what was going on, and we found something out of the room for her to do when the time came.
It was fast, and it was peaceful for him. The vet said it would be, as it was an overdose of barbituates. My cat, the rock star.
Nolan took it pretty hard, that evening, as the cat had taken to jumping up on his bed and sleeping with him. Just like when Nolan was a toddler.
I find myself looking for him, in his usual spots, and putting things out of his reach...and realizing I don't have to do it anymore.
Then I'm surprised and a little embarrassed to feel a sense of relief.
Audrey made up for her Bart-ness that night. I was making dinner, and she started going on again, about how "Mommy, you're pretty..but you'd be prettier if you wore a skirt. Not pants."
Not that again.
I was crabby, which considering, wasn't so unusual. So I was a bit sarcastic, and I said, "Gee, thanks, Audrey. That's just great, for you to think that all I'm worth is the sum of my parts."
Yeah. Like my four year old will get that, I thought.
Then I heard her say, "No, Mommy. All your parts are pretty."
OH. Oh, my.
I think I may have to rewrite my will.