You all saw this coming, didn’t you? I mean, we blew a royalty check on the fucking cat, and all it turned out to be was a pathetic gamble with more money than we really had that maybe, he’d get to live the full cat allotment and not have to check out early.
But it was not to be.
That thing on his face got really big, and then it had some sort of internal explosion, and I don’t care how much that beastie is horking down, when he’s literally weeping blood, it’s time to call the game.
I called it, but Mate was the one who put a gentle hand on my shoulder as he left for work yesterday and said, “The cat?”
“Yeah. Fuck. The fucking cat.”
We prepped the kids–I mean, you all were hear last year, right? I mean, surely this post left a wee bit of a dent. So you know how it goes. Part of the wonder of having sentient quadropeds in your domicile is that you teach the cycle of life and death the children without, say, the trauma, of a family funeral, right? So we’ve done this before. We know the drill.
Yeah. Still sucked.
Watching your seventeen year old ginormous boy-child come completely fucking unglued–to the point where he practically knocked a proffered box of Kleenex out of your hand sucks. He clutched that cat to his chest and sobbed great gulping sobs that shook the house, and the little kids looked at him with big eyes.
Chicken tried to compensate by mothering everyone. The little kids, her big brother, me. She woke up this morning and found one gray cat on her bed without his orange buddy, and cried.
Zoomboy… Zoomboy sobbed. Zoomboy sobbed on Chicken when I left the house with the cat in the carrier, and then I brought the box-o-death home, and Zoomboy laid face down on his bed and shook with sobs that threatened to tear his body apart. He spent half the day siting in a deck chair and staring out into the back yard. It was very Women’s Network–but then, we got that cat especially for him.
Zoomboy was a holy frickin terror when he was a year old (you remember the days we called him ‘The Cave Troll’? Yeah. He earned that.) We wanted a new cat–but one that could defend itself from holy frickin’ terrors, and one that would only scratch when a kid was hurting him and one that was, in the family parlance, bomb proof. We went to the adoption center, and as I was looking for a three-legged mommy-charmer that we had seen the week before (she’d been adopted–I’m not joking about the ‘charmer’ part) the older kids ran in and said, “Mom! Mom! Mom! We want THAT one. He looks just like GARFIELD!”
And there he was. Chicken wanted to call him ‘Danny’ from her favorite poem about cats (“A Day in the LIfe of Danny the Cat”) and T wanted to name him Dennis Quaid because he’d just seen Flight of the Phoenix, and Quaid was his mancrush. I picked Dennis Quaid, figured Chicken could call him Danny if she wanted, and that, since Mate was on a zillion business trips at the time, if he wasn’t home, I’d get to sleep with Dennis Quaid. (I love this joke, btw–and you will see a version of it in large scale in Making Promises. Well, this cat was the beginning of all that.)
He was big and orange and placid, and about two years ago we chose a trip to Disneyland over a $3000 operation to make the cat feel better, figuring whatever it was would work itself out. It did, but only to a point, and really, we just had some borrowed time.
It was good time. Every morning for the last year, I would sit on the chair with a kid on either side of me, and Dennis Quaid would come up and sit on my chest and purr in my ear. His breath was putrid–but he really liked that back hollow under my hair, and I didn’t have it in me to refuse him. Who refuses a purring cat, right?
So yesterday morning, after Mate shored me up to pull the hammer, I stood and stretched and went to where he was on the back of the couch and pet him as he purred. At one point he reached out his claws and made me do a nose-to-nose–I was his human. He needed to mark me. I cried the whole time, but with dignity, because he was a dignified guy, right?
And as the kids were saying goodbye, Squish and I had this conversation:
“You’re going to take the cat to the vet, and he’s going to die?”
“Yes. So say goodbye now, because he’s not coming back.”
“He’s not coming back?”
“Are YOU coming back?” (a little bit of panic here!)
“Yes, Squish–Mom’s definitely coming back.”
“Oh. Good.” She could definitely deal with the cat being gone, as long as Mom was coming back.
Okay, I thought. There you go. Insta-perspective. The men in the family are sentimental (hence Mate bailing from the whole scene so it would hurt less) and the women are practical. There you go.
His heart stopped before the second syringe was fully in–he was just that sick, and just that weak, and his heart was just that ready to go. He could have been anywhere from twelve to sixteen years old, and it was just time.
So there I was, driving home, with the ominous box in the back of the minivan, and my vision was clear enough to drive, and there were these horrible, soft, helpless, mewling sounds coming out of my throat and I couldn’t seem to stop them, because apparently my sons get it from somewhere, and because that fucking cat was not going to be on the table when I got home, and he wasn’t going to wake me up to feed him, and he wasn’t going to sit on my chest and goddammit, when would I learn?
I took the long way home, drove to McDonalds, got myself a coffee drink, and got home with a brave face and helped the kids bury our buddy in the flower beds in the front yard.
Come Halloween, maybe he can chase the ghosts of all the rats in there, and maybe bat around the guinea pig’s zombie for fun.
Goodbye, buddy. Maybe I’ll see you then.