We don’t choose our cats. They choose us.
One afternoon in the late autumn of 1993, a small grey cat appeared on my back porch and would not leave. I tried to chase her away—I was not a cat person then—but all my efforts were futile. I yelled and even tossed pebbles at her but she’d simply step behind the back tires of my truck and then poke her head out as if to say, “Clearly those rocks aren’t meant for me.”
One day I came outside to get a break from Zephyr layouts and sat down on the bottom step. The cat appeared from nowhere, and ascended the steps to a point directly behind me. I turned around and she butted me in the forehead with her own.
I said, “You hungry?” And that was that.
We would butt heads for most of the next two decades. I named her Fuzzy because her fur was so incredibly soft. As the weeks passed, she gained a lot of weight and I wondered if I was feeding her too much. Then another possibility occurred to me. Sure enough, Fuzz soon became a mother to a single kitten that I was only able to locate weeks after her birth.
In the early years, Fuzzy was a wanderer. In fact, my vet had never seen anything quite like it. Though she was (by then) a spayed female, Fuzzy possessed all the characteristics of a tom cat. She’d be gone days or weeks at a time. My friends would claim they’d spotted her in an alfalfa field more than a mile away. Or wading in Pack Creek. She’d come home covered with cockle burrs and foxtails and I’d spend hours trying to clean her up. Fuzzy would lie calmly as I groomed her and, when I was done, she’d walk to the food dish and demand a re-fill.
She didn’t even begin to slow down until I moved to Monticello, when she was almost ten. By then, she was content to wander the yard and sleep on any number of perches I’d built for Fuzz and her daughter. They both slept through much of the last decade, as cats are prone to do, though they both could move at lightning speed when the spirit moved them.
At times I thought Fuzzy was as close as I’d ever get to marriage. We were like an old couple. She and I had an understanding: she’d do whatever she wanted, I’d yell at her to stop, and she’d then lick her paws until I was distracted by something else. And then she’d go back to whatever she was doing in the first place (usually pulling chunks of my rug out).
When Tonya came into my life, both cats took to her instantly. The last two years have been the best years for all of us.
It wasn’t until last month, at age 19, that Fuzz started to show her age. Her decline startled me, for I was beginning to think she was immortal. But within weeks Fuzzy had gone from a vital middle-aged cat to a frail old girl. Even her purr had lost much of its enthusiasm.
Finally, last week she looked at me through glazed tired eyes and I knew she was ready. We let Fuzzy go last Monday.
It was a death in the family …JS
DOES YOUR DOG…OR CAT…OR TURTLE
OR HAMSTER…OR…HAVE WHAT IT TAKES
‘DOG OF THE MONTH?’
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