December 27, 2014
There will be no more life lessons from Little Cat on the blog. Sadly, she passed away on my lap last Sunday morning, while I stroked her fur, talked to her and offered her every enticement I could think of to postpone that last journey. Alas, she could not. A neighbor helped me bury her in the backyard near the garden, under a shrub where she often enjoyed refuge from the summer heat.
She was really my son’s cat, if one can be said to own a cat. He found her in an animal shelter – a one-week-old, six ounce ball of white fluff – almost fifteen years ago. When we bought the house, three years later, she became our cat, even though she lived downstairs with him. And last year, when he moved to California by motorcycle, he left her with me out of respect for her advancing age and she became my cat.
On the whole, it was a mutually beneficial relationship. I provided her with food, shelter and a clean litter box; she helped keep my blood pressure in check by allowing me to stroke her fur and scratch her ears while we watched TV together in the evening and made this large house seem less empty by feigning rapt attention to my one-sided conversations.
Over this last week, though, I was a little surprised at how many accommodations I’d made to this friendship once I no longer had to make them, how routine they had become and how little bother most of them had really been, in the grand scheme of things.
For example, I could leave the library door open, knowing she wouldn’t climb into my favorite, nubby-textured chair to scratch her back by rolling around in it, leaving it covered in a tangled film of long white hairs.
I could walk down the hallway without fear of stepping on her, as she dashed between my feet to see where I was going and whether there might be food involved.
And, I could finally move the big container with my spinach and lettuce to those spots where it would get the most sunlight in my back room garden, rather than a place where she couldn’t jump into it because she was certain I’d given her a box full of dirt – complete with a carpet of grass-like stuff – for her to sleep in.
I also realized, she probably had her own list of accommodations that she’d made over this year. (She did finally eat most of those dreadful cans of cat food I bought, when I couldn’t remember her favorite brand. She did catch several mice that wandered into the back room, last winter, even when I kept snatching them up in a paper towel and rudely tossing them out the back door while she was still playing with them. She did help me cement several good friendships over this last year with her charming ways. And she did accept that, though I was only a poor human and not a superior species such as a cat, I was a worthy friend.)
So I suppose, dear readers, that is Little Cat’s final life lesson for us all – that the larger part of any good friendship is mutual accommodation to our differences, whether you’re a cat or a human.
Happy new year, everyone.