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 For The Love Of A Cat | A True Story

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Zeroki
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PostSubject: For The Love Of A Cat | A True Story   Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:01 pm


For The Love Of A Cat | A True Story

You always hear the stories about miracle pets, or love at first sight pets. I always read those stories and scoffed at them, believing them to be a load of drivel for the emotional masses. Even as a cat owner when I read them, I’d grown up taking care of the cat; Cleo. While I held a close relationship and connection with Cleo, there had never been “love at first sight” for me because she had always been there. From elementary school all the way to my sophomore year of college; she was there.

In my sophomore year of college, Cleo was nearly 21 years old. She had lived a good long life and she was ready to go. I noticed it that night; she didn’t want to be held or sleep on the bed as she normally did. Her legs were weak and she lay down more than she moved around. Somewhere deep inside I knew she was ready to go but I simply didn’t want to admit that my best friend was going to die. Considering that my paternal grandmother (that’s the grandmother on my father’s side) had died only two weeks prior from cancer, I was willing everything in me to not believe that Cleo was going to die too.

The next morning my father woke me up, telling me that Cleo had passed during the night. She had curled up beneath the heater outside my bedroom and died right there. My dad had put her in a shoebox until I could decide what needed to be done. He wanted to know if I wanted to see her; and I said yes. He opened the box and there she was, quiet; still. She was curled up, her eyes closed as she had been sleeping. But she was cold to the touch, there was no life in her body, and her fur felt empty somehow. I felt for the lack of a better word; numb. It was the only way I could be at that moment.

Despite what everyone said, that Cleo was just a cat and that I shouldn’t feel that way; they didn’t know her or me very well for that matter. Cleo was for the lack of a better word; my best friend. She had seen me at my very best and my very worst. She had seen me for all my good days and then the ones where my world was crashing down around me. Cleo had seen everything about me that I didn’t show to the world. And she was always there, regardless; with a rub and purr to make everything better.

I didn’t go to work that day.

Snow had begun to fall; blanketing the world in white. I needed to choose what to do with Cleo. I couldn’t bear the thought of burying her in the backyard. I felt that she deserved better than that. After a couple of hours of research, I found that the Denver Dumb Friend League allowed pets to be turned over to them to be cremated, with the ashes returned to their owners. Two options were given, a communal cremation or a private one. Private was more expensive of course; but I couldn’t bear the thought of having another pet’s ashes as opposed to just Cleo’s.

So my dad and I took Cleo to the Dumb Friends League; where they asked me about the cat. It felt very objective, but I couldn’t help but break down when the woman asking the questions asked if the box was big enough for her to move and breathe in.

“She doesn’t need to.”

The woman understood and didn’t say much more. The process went quickly, and they took Cleo away.

It felt strange to go home and not be greeted by a friendly face. It was one thing to lose my grandmother; we hadn’t seen each other for years and she lived in Colorado Springs, us in Denver. This time, despite the fact that everyone said that Cleo was just a cat and not worth the tears; there was a hole punched in my life at the lack of my best friend. Others couldn’t understand it; and it’s only nearly three years later that I can finally explain it. There’s something heartrending about having someone to come home to, even if they’re not human. Someone who cares where you are at 11 at night because you’re not home like you usually are, giving love and pets like you usually do. That someone doesn’t have to be human at all.

Various people criticized me for my grief, which usually resulted in my rage and ire. I learned a valuable lesson, regardless of the situation: Never belittle another’s grief and sadness, regardless of how ridiculous it may seem to you.

It was an odd day when we went to pick up Cleo’s ashes. It was sunny, and warm. The kind of day she would’ve loved to find a spot on my bedroom floor and stretch out in a sunbeam. The drive to Denver Dumb Friends League was quiet; uneventful. It felt strange to hold a small tin of ashes and think that it was all that I had left of Cleo’s physical being. It was all I had, and while it felt strange; I felt at peace in some sense; that I had done what I could to remember Cleo as she was, and give her the kind of send-off that I personally felt that she deserved.

But despite that feeling of peace; something still felt out of place. There was nobody there waiting for me when I got home. Mom and dad were there, but they always were. It was something different when Cleo was there.

I fell into depression. I couldn’t quite see it, though the others around me could. My energy was gone, laughing was so much harder. My mother picked up on it too. She could tell, even if I couldn’t.\

She caught me alone in the kitchen one night. I was hungry, getting some dinner. Mom had a proposition, going against what she had said before that she didn’t want any more cats or dogs in the house until all of us kids were out of the house. It was October then; it had just started getting cold again.

Her idea was that we could adopt another cat. The house and apparently even I didn’t seem the same without a cat there.

I was unsure; to say the least. Getting another cat was not the same as getting a replacement laptop or iPod. The wound was still fresh, still trying to heal. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to adopt another connection to become so close to my heart again. I wasn’t sure if I would subconsciously expect the new cat to behave and act just like Cleo had or if I had finally buried the hurt enough to expect otherwise.

Well, in November; my parents, my then boyfriend, and myself all went to the Denver Dumb Friends League. I’d been looking at cats for months, trying to see if I could find a cat that I would be able to not confuse with Cleo. Ever. With that in mind, I had set rules. I didn’t rule out black and white cats entirely, but I didn’t want a cat that would remind me of Cleo. So; brown, pure white, pure black, red, buff, calico, blue, and various shades of tabbies became my choices for what the cat would look like. As ridiculous as it seems, I needed a cat that wouldn’t remind me of Cleo. Not only for the factor of avoiding confusion, but I didn’t want to open up the wound on my heart again for the reminder.

So, the night before we went to look at cats, I looked at all the adoptable cats on DDFL.org

There were so many! I found it hard to choose. But; there was this one little red tabby girl. She looked small, and scared. She was a young cat too by the looks of it. I printed out the information on her and at least four other cats that I really wanted to look at.

I wore a short sleeve grey Broncos shirt, something that could get covered in cat hair and dander without me worrying too much. We left early and were the first people to get into the shelter. We browsed the cat colonies, looking each cat over. There had been an outbreak in upper respiratory infections with the cats. (Not too serious, more like a “kitty-cold”) The colonies of healthy cats were small than the ones with the sick cats.

The first colony was visited had the little scared red tabby in it, named Maxine. All the things I said earlier about “love at first sight pets” was completely gone in the instant that I picked up this red tabby, vanished to the winds of my cynicism. She sank her claws into my shirt, put her head against my neck, and curled into my chest. It felt like she was saying “I’m scared! Please don’t let me go!”

I put her down for a bit; so that we could go see a few other cats. I was trying to be objective in a sense, not let any particular cat steal my heart too early. Though I tried, I had failed and Maxine had stolen my heart regardless. We went back to the colony with Maxine in it, and she came home with us; along with a big black male who at the time was named Spock. This was his third time back at Denver Dumb Friends League since the shelter would allow us to adopt him as well; free of adoption charge. They were renamed Ginny and Sirius Black respectively.

I didn’t know what to expect but I found over time, that the relationship I had with Ginny was fundamentally different than the relationship I had felt with Cleo. Cleo had been my best friend, but Ginny felt more like a daughter, a baby of sorts. I have taken to calling her “my little girl”.

It took awhile for us to adjust to each other; for our personalities to slide into place, if you will. She took a spot on my bed to sleep, next to my head. Initially she didn’t like to be picked up and held; though a few months of work and patience had gotten her adjusted to it regardless. She was younger than DDFL had told us, simply for her appearance and size.

It was strange to say, but I felt complete. The wound on my heart was still there, but Ginny’s unconditional love had a balsam effect. It didn’t hurt quite as much; the love seemed to stave it off. That hurt was then put to rest; as it should have been as I enjoyed the love of my little girl, of my little Ginny. I felt normal, as I had when Cleo had been alive. Ginny would wait for me on the stairs to come home, eventually (according to my mother) set up to wait at about 5:30 to 6:00 every day, which is when I usually got home from my afternoon classes on an average day.

She would wait, and every day; it was the same. Ginny would always, and still greets me with a nudge, a rub, a meow, and a purr. A greeting full of unconditional love, something that I had sorely missed, has become something that I have found that I cannot do without on some level, it seems to me.

NO HEAVEN WILL NOT EVER HEAVEN BE; UNLESS MY CATS ARE THERE TO WELCOME ME.
- Unknown

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Mokambie_Lioness
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PostSubject: Re: For The Love Of A Cat | A True Story   Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:26 am

**wipes tears from my eyes** Wow, I'm moved by it Zeroki, I didnt know how much Cleo ment to you! I look forward to see'ing my lost pets in heavan too! Especially Skeeter our oldest former cat, she was a yellow long haired tom cat, had her own attitude too, but she knew we loved her! She was originally my half brother Christopher's cat, he'd had her since 1998, February 16th, I read his journal's in 2004/2005, after he had passed away in 2003 September 10th, at age 26.
Skeetie as we called her was just the most loving cat, gawd I can remember that!
She moved here from Nebraska to now South Dakota, she too was old! She had to be at least 18 or 19 years of age! So on April 11th 2009 she passed on quietly in her sleep, dad found her, told me that morning, as I got up.. I wont lie, I cried my eyes out, privately in my room. after we buried her, by a tree in our back yard..

I have now three cats and a dog, I can assure you I'm in no lack of company!
I know that feeling of coming home and being greeted by them, I too like you, often find I need that unconditional love as well, its nice to feel loved and needed. Pets are nice, they listen, dont judge or dont care.. They listen, and care, they'll see all about you & I we show no one else.

Heres a pic of her Skeeter, as usuall at sleeping! XD
I know the pic is grainy, but I was using a pen cam at the time in 2004 back in York Nebraska.

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