Sunday, February 3, 2013
Guinness, 1991 - 2012
It was May 23, 1991. He was a small handful of tabby fur. Poison-green eyes, brick red nose -- both runny due to a massive respiratory infection. He was maybe six weeks old.
"Look, maybe you can do something for him. We can't keep him. Good luck!"
He got better. He went to college with me. He weathered heartbreaks and hangovers, family drama of all stripes and disasters. His fur was absorbent and could mop up tears easily.
He moved to Florida with me, for grad school. He developed a taste for small green lizards, and horked up lizard parts at inopportune moments (often as a form of social commentary, I am convinced). we rode out a hurricane because no shelter in the area would take pets.
He moved back to PA with me, and was there as I navigated pre-wedding planning and all the drama that goes with it. He stalked the 700 square foot domain of our first shit apartment, and made it clear to the new husband that HE had been in my life first, and as far as he was concerned, the husband was transitory. Shoes were crapped in; butts were placed on pillows. Eventually, detente was achieved, but it took years.
He inspected the new house carefully, discovered the best nooks and crannies to sun in, and terrorized any mice foolish enough to set paw in the house. The dog we bought was thoroughly cowed within 48 hours, as was the proper order of things. When dog #1 passed, dog #2 was similarly trained quickly.
He looked on in bemusement as the first baby came home. With resignation as the second one arrived. with indifference as the third one made an appearance.
As he got older, he spent more time sleeping soundly in the sun, and left the running of the household to the younger cats. As elder statescat, he only weighed in on significant issues, and his judgement was given mighty credence.
November 6, 2012: I came home to find him at the top of the stairs, struggling to move his back end and crying. Though the vet is literally 2 minutes away, it was the longest drive of my life. The vet kindly told me, with pity in her eyes, that there really was nothing to be done -- there is no cure for old age. Twenty-one is practically Methuselah in cat years.
He purred in my arms as she gave him his last injection, looking up into my eyes with his poison-green ones. He calmly closed them one last time, and the purring slowed, then stopped.
I was lost. I sobbed for a few minutes, cradling my cat, and then gently laid his towel-wrapped form on the table. In the waiting room, a woman I had never met before pulled me into her arms and cried with me, and then walked me to my car.
A week later I picked up a box that was much too small to hold an animal who had been such a large part of my life and my heart. I swore that I would never, ever let an animal get that tied up in my heart again, and that I would never subject myself to that kind of heartbreak.
January 12, 2013: she was a small bundle of tabby and white fur, one eye permanently clouded white by an untreated infection. Her oine copper eye glared with "fuck you!" as she thrust her paw between the cage bars to grab my upper arm with her claws....