The one thing about having animal companions is that they don’t get to live as long as we do and in our lifetimes, those of us who are cat people or dog people (or insert animal of choice) end up losing several animal companions throughout our lives. Back in 1989 my sister and I bought a kitten. Immediately we knew her name was Sonni (short for Sonnillion). Not to mention she was a pretty yellow color and had a sunny disposition. The name just fit. This was the first cat that truly chose me as her human. Sure, our cat Acey (when I was growing up) was pretty much my cat, too, but she was considered the family cat. Sonni, however, turned out to be mine and I hers.
I had Sonni throughout college and into my twenties and when I got married, Sonni came with me. Sonni lost her battle with Kidney disease back in 2003 at the age of 14. I was devastated by the loss. Of course by that time, there were four other cats in our family. Tezra, who I got as a kitten (saved from her fate as a meal for a snake), lived until she was 12, at which time she got cancer.
Then there was Bandit, my sister’s cat who I was safe-keeping until my sister could find an apartment that accepted cats, and who I ended up keeping because Sonni loved her so much and she deserved a forever home without being moved from home to home. She lived to the ripe old age of 18 when kidney disease finally took her. Last came Shadow and Oliver, brother and sister who my sister could no longer keep once the first baby came (because he was allergic). The cats had no place to go and adult cats are often hard to get people to adopt. So my husband and I took them in. This past summer, at 17, Shadow was the first to go from Kidney disease. Then recently, cancer claimed Oliver (also 17).
That is the nature of our animal companions. They all pass over in their old age (hopefully old age). I loved each and every one of these cats and they greatly enhanced the quality of our lives, oftentimes more than we acknowledged.
So when Oliver passed I felt something I hadn’t felt in 25 years. A strange pervading emptiness in my home. The house seemed too big. Too quiet, even though there are two of us living here. I thought I would grieve and take some time before deciding whether or not to bring more cats into our lives. But after a short time I realized I couldn’t. I used to have a sign hanging in the main bathroom that declared, “A house is not a home without a cat.” That’s SO true for this house.
With this in mind, I went through all the reasons I wanted another cat (or two) and realized all of my reasons were completely selfish. I wanted animal companions to keep me company while I write. To have another heartbeat in the house when my husband or I are home alone. I wanted another cat (or two) to love and take care of. I wanted another cat (or two) for cuddling and petting and sitting in front of the fire with. The only non-selfish reason I could think of was that while I wanted cats for all of these reasons, there are cats out there who wanted forever homes just as much as we wanted cats in our home. For that, they would likely put up with being petted and given treats and having their pictures posted to FB with silly sayings like, “It’s Caturday!”
So today my husband and I went to the local shelter/adoption center, found two friendly, sweet cats we wanted to adopt, were accepted, and brought home two beautiful female cats (aged 2 and 7). Yes, they have the names they came with and they’re perfectly good names, but we’re considering renaming them. Now our house is no longer cat-less and our kitties are home. I look forward to the privilege of being their cat-mom until they, too, eventually pass on (a long-long time from now). Even as I type this my husband is trying to coax them out from their hiding places and I hear their sweet little meows from the room they’re sequestered in until they get used to the idea of being in a new house. I already love them. I just hope these two kitties get along with each other like we’re hoping they will. There’s plenty of room in the house if they don’t, thankfully. They can each have their own room, or floor if they wanted. LOL! Pictures of our new family members forthcoming once they finally claim the house as their own. We need to give it a few days.
So here’s to a changing of the guard. Those who came before will never be forgotten and the kitties in our lives now will be cared for and loved by us for as long as they’re on this earthly plane.
To all of the people who were patient with me not answering email over the holidays and patient while I put off readings to grieve Oliver’s death – thank you. I appreciate each and every one of you. My schedule should be back on track soon.