We know they're not people...

Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Our pets. Sometimes, though, I think they may be better than people- or at least have all the best qualities we wish we could so easily display ourselves.

We moved into our home in 1997 and the boys were all young. Jason would have been 11 at the time, Dan 9 and Kyle 7. It was winter and our house was surrounded by hills to sled down and places to explore. And so it was on these explorations they came across the cat.

She was feral- someone had either abandoned her in the hills or she ran from them, we'll never know. But she would be seen scavenging for food- she was a master at finding it. That winter was hard, though, and the boys all worried for her safety.

She wouldn't let us near her, but we began setting food out. She would sneak in to eat it in the garage, and dart away the moment anyone approached her. Because we didn't know if she was a girl or boy- Jason named her Robin. Not gender specific, but also because of her "Robin Hood Like" stealth in stealing food.

As the time went by she would begin to trust us. Not shying away- putting one paw into the house before she would bolt- eventually coming inside. She never liked being in for long. If she became impatient with our responses to her desire to leave the house she would stand and paw at the doorknob herself, trying to open it.

You were never to touch her unless she initiated it- she was not a cuddler. But she found ways to entertain us and slowly- she became part of the family.

Dan says that had she been 'normal' she would never have fit in with our family. He's probably right.
In the last few years- she got slower and more comfortable- choosing laps a little more often. At first it was just mine- then others. This last year or two she really slowed down. Gone were the mice and bunnies at the door, and usually she would prefer to sit in the sunny window and look outside than to actually go out. This past winter she never left the house.

I looked for her when I came home. If we were gone too long she would be moody and irritated with me for awhile and then, finally, she would forgive me and climb back up on my lap. She liked sitting with us towards the end, preferring our company to being alone.

We knew she wasn't well. She didn't often make it to the vet- she didn't like being picked up even at the end. But her breathing was labored the last few weeks- she had slowed even more.

Last night we knew she was nearing an end. Unable to climb the stairs to us any longer- she stayed in the basement where her food was, though she hadn't touched it in days. We waited for her to tell us what to do- and in the end she did. We knew the last thing she would want was to be poked and prodded and stuck at the vets office. She was happiest when she was out in her own little jungle world- or sitting comfortably on a trusted lap.

The vet said even with intervention she had less than a couple weeks to live- and she would starve in the meantime. Starving was how she came to us- and we would not let her leave the world that way. So Dan and I took her in this morning, and we held her limp in our arms and told her she was a good and faithful cat- and we let her slip away.

The grief feels so much like people grief- maybe even more so in some strange way. I find it surprising, but I also know it makes a sort of sense. She was, after all, someone who came to us of her own free will- chose to stay with us no matter what- and eventually found comfort and relief in our presence -and in our arms. Isn't that what we are all searching for in others?

I'll miss her always. And the moments of pain will probably fade- but right now they are so present and I "see" her still waiting for me to get up in the morning or coming straight up to me when I get home. I know we will keep "seeing" her in all those moments we have come to expect- playing in the ribbon when Christmas comes, trying to steal a drink from the dogs bowl, lying in a sweet spot of sunshine.

Yes, we know they are not people. But they find a way into our hearts anyway, leaving them a little bruised and battered but all the more full. Rest well, my baby girl.


  1. Rest well dear kitty, rest well: sending love to Diane, Jay and family.

  2. I will miss her: she always had a bite for me when she was done with the petting


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