I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Goodbye, my friend

I had to wait a week to write this post. And even now, as I begin to write it, the tears are flowing.

Last Wednesday, my beloved cat, Midnight, died. She was 20 years old this month. I knew something was wrong with her the night before as I went to bed. She just didn't look right. She's been battling kidney problems for a long time and I didn't know if her lethargy was related to it or not, but she just looked like death.

As I drifted off to sleep, she didn't jump up and sleep on top of me -- like she has done nearly every night over the past 20 years. When I woke up, she still didn't look right. She was disoriented, walking in circles. I fed her and she ate a little something. Then I pretended that everything was okay, because, well, it had to be. As a single guy, she's all I have ... or had.

I don't say that to mean I don't have family and friends. I have lot of great people around me. But none who go through the routines of life with me. There's a difference.

Midnight and I took to each other right away on that fateful day in 1990 when I got her. A good friend had called me a couple of days prior and asked if I wanted a cat. His wife had a friend whose cat had kitties and she was trying to get rid of them. Growing up, we always had a dog. I'd never had a cat before but one of my sisters is a cat person so I'd been around them some and enjoyed their company. So, I said yes.

I went out and bought some cat food and a bag of cat litter. Then I converted a shoe box into a bed for the cat and another shoe box into a potty box. As I prepared for the cat's arrival, I called and told my mom I was getting a kitty and after she found out the little girl kitty was pure black she told me I should call her Midnight.

Midnight it was.

My friend, his wife, and their little two- or three-year-old daughter arrived at my house. Their daughter must have had a ball with Midnight because by the time they handed her over to me, Midnight had candy stuck in her fur and she was anxious to escape the little girl's clutches.

After my friend and his family left, I picked up Midnight to show her her new surroundings. She literally fit in the palm of my hand (she was the runt of the litter). We stopped at her food bowl. Her new bed and potty box were close by. I set her down and she attacked the food I'd set out. Then she tried out her new bed. And then she gave me some idea about her personality when she attacked her bed.

I snapped a few photos of the events that day:

She was the cutest thing I'd ever seen. And over the next few weeks and months, we began to develop a routine.

I'd wake up and attempt to move her off my body. I tend to sleep on my stomach and within the first couple of nights she established a pattern of sleeping on the back of my legs -- although she made it clear that I needed to spread my legs wide enough for her to be able to sink down into the covers and have her own fortress. I didn't really understand what she wanted at first, but after she continued to dig and burrow her way between my legs, while lying on top of the covers, I finally got it.

After we were both up, she would often march in front of me and take me to her food bowl. Then she'd follow me into the bathroom. After I cleaned up, she'd settle in for a nap. When I was working away from the home, she went ballistic before I left for work, begging for attention -- which I always gave her.

After I got home from work each day, she would be waiting for me on the kitchen counter. I'll never know how such a little thing got up on the counter, but the second I set my keys down on the table, I could expect her to leap off the counter in my direction with all four legs sprawled out. I'd catch her and give her all sorts of ruvins (that would be "lovings" for those of you who don't speak cat-ese). She liked to rough house so I'd take her into the living room and we'd wrestle. She never lost a battle. At the end, I'd hold up her paw in victory -- a practice I continued until one week ago.

One of her earliest hobbies was catching flies. She loved to bat at them and disable them. I never saw her eat one. She just loved to swing her paws at them. Another one of her other hobbies was batting at visitors. She would hide behind a corner or under an end table and as they walked by, her little paw would shoot out and bat the living day lights out of the passerby's foot, giving the person a heart attack. One day, my mom was visiting and I heard her scream. Midnight had struck again. She had to be the most feared three-pound kitty to ever live.

She developed lots of other hobbies as she grew up, including lounging on top of the television, begging for people food (she once carried a McDonalds cheeseburger -- still in the wrapper -- off the kitchen table), working on her sun tan by lying around in windowsills, drinking out of every uncovered cup in the house, taking over every shoe box the second the shoes were removed, sneaking away to sleep under the covers when it was cold (to her, whenever the temperature was below 80, it was cold) inspecting the Christmas tree by chewing on the branches or swatting at the bulbs as she walked by, curling up in my lap every afternoon as I settled into my recliner to read a book, and meowing her fool head off every time I returned from somewhere, until I picked her up.

She also had a sock toy, which we affectionately referred to as her "socky," and she loved to carry it around with her. It was small so she could fit it in her mouth and I'd find it all over the house. Sometimes I found it in bed, sometimes it was in the living room, sometimes it was in the kitchen and sometimes it was in my office.

She got into all sorts of predicaments growing up. When she was really young, she shimmied her way down one of the heat vents that somebody left off after painting and I found her down inside the furnace. I just followed the meows. When I got close to the furnace (it wasn't on, thankfully), I reached my arm in, way past the filter and found her. She was covered in dust, but safe.

Another time, she slipped out the front door one morning when my roommate was going to work. She'd never been outside (except for when she was born -- she was born in a barn) so when he called me to tell me I was panicked. When I got home, she was waiting on the porch. I guess she realized she had it a lot better inside.

As she aged, she became a bit of a prima donna. No more chasing bugs for her. Why chase bugs when you are served several different types of food every day, in addition to eating human food? My dad was a photographer and he shot this photo of her one day as she posed like a queen:

She took over every inch of the house and I loved it. She transformed the house from a place in which I stored my stuff to a place in which I lived and enjoyed life. I grew to depend on her every bit as much as she depended on me. She was a faithful companion. One who hung out with me at night while I read a book or watched television. One who spoke to me in so many ways. And one who loved me as I much as I loved her. That's pretty hard to find.


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