Today is my Day of Remembering. I have lost three cats and, considering the ages of my current beasts, I will lose more, relatively soon. Rather than commemorating their lives separately, on the dates of their deaths, and thus collecting a sombre catalogue of memories, I will remember them together, on this day.
Bear-Bear died on this date, six years ago.
This long and very friendly mancat came to stay with me in April, 2013. He had been found, a vagrant, wandering around an apartment building. He seemed healthy, and was neutered. He loved people. I suspect he had been abandoned.
He turned out to be not as healthy as he appeared. He was anaemic, and so could not have stood the anaesthetic of a dental procedure he needed for his gingivitis. Eventually, it was determined that he had cancer. He died on February 25th, 2014.
What I recall most about the BB is his friendliness. He would have been such a good family cat. He would have been perfect for children. He got along with my beasts, though they didn’t really care much for him. He talked quite a bit, and when he spoke, it was in a conversational tone. Even on his last car-ride, going to the veterinary hospital to leave me, he spoke casually, as if discussing the weather. It was a sunny day; Bear-Bear liked sunny days.
It is always sad when death takes a living creature, but it is particularly regrettable when it takes one who would have been made happy so easily, and who could have made others happy so easily. It angers me that more people didn’t know Bear-Bear, and were unable to meet such a marvellous fellow. They missed their chance, and in so doing, caused him to miss his.
But I knew the BB, and he will survive in my memory. To me, he was ‘the ugly brute’, my conversationalist. Now and then we still talk, he and I.
Tungsten died thirteen months later. She was my first cat, and suffered from my ignorance of feline ways. But she was stoic about it, for the most part, and very forgiving. She taught me a great deal. Despite my lack of knowledge, she and I became good friends.
She was very little and light to hold. She never weighed more than seven pounds, I think, but even in her middle age could leap five feet straight up, if she wanted to be somewhere. She liked to be on my shoulders, often jumping there, sometimes when I wasn’t prepared. It was a good thing she was light…
On my shoulders she lie facing left. On my lap, it was to the right, usually curled clockwise. She loved being on my lap, with my hand on her tummy. She would curl around it. She would lie there while I read, or watched tv (I had television in those days.) At night, she would slumber in my hand, or in the crook of my legs. She enjoyed my company.
When I brought other cats to live with us, Tungsten established that she was top-cat. She was the ‘tiny terror’ and, though not dictatorial, she let the others know when they had done something wrong. She became chums with Renn; the only pair of my cats who were friendly toward each other. The big and the small, they sat and lie together, and groomed one another.
Tungsten had hyperthyroidism, which we were able to control. But she had something else, probably cancer, and she became sick and died on 26th March, 2015. I think of her often, and miss her always, the feline queen of my heart.
My sturdy boy. That’s what I called Parker. This hefty orange fellow came to me in January, 2017, because he was having trouble managing his diabetes. He and I and his doctor worked on it, and were able to drop the dosage of his insulin from seven units twice a day to four, and that, though still high, seemed to work for him.
He was friendly with me from the start but I knew a threshold in our relationship had been crossed when I picked him up from his dental surgery a few months into our acquaintance. He was brought in his carrier from the operating room of the hospital; his back was to the cage’s door. When he heard me talking to him, he turned around and rubbed his face against my fingers through the carrier’s bars. We had become friends.
Parker tried to be amiable to the other cats, but it was rough going. In fact, he and Tucker had a knock-down brawl at one point. It was only after Raleigh was introduced into the household that Puck, as I sometimes called Parker, and Tucker settled down to making the best of each other’s presence.
He loved his food - he could eat half or even two thirds of a big tin of food at a sitting (I loved to see him put it away) - and he enjoyed playing, but his real joy was being outside in his harness. He knew the sound of it and would paw at the door, purring with anticipation. Once outside, he would talk, delighted in being in the fresh air. He liked meeting people on his walks, and was widely admired for his handsomeness.
In February, 2019, he was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor said that Parker had a few weeks to live. My tough little Die Hard defied death for four months. Even the day before he left me, he was outside, no longer sturdy, not walking much, but loving the early summer’s air and the cool grass. He didn’t want to go when his time came, and I didn’t want to let him go, but it was undoubtedly his time. I will always think of him outside, in his orange glory.
These are the three I recall, when I think about the cats I have lost. Each was unique, each irreplaceable, each my friend. I will remember them.