For most of my life (the better portion) I've shared a home with at least two cats. (Yeah, sometimes more -- what's it to ya?!) Cathy, a wayward calico that wandered her way into my childhood was my first cat. A month later she delivered a litter of kittens and the house on Clyde Avenue became cat haven/heaven. I persuaded Mom (the arbiter of these decisions) to keep two: Irish and Red. Later, there was Lucky (who survived an attempted drowning) and Augie (rescued in the month of August, hence his name, from similar abuse at the hands of a band of sub-human creatures that resembled tween-age boys).
When I established my own household, Tess and Mac became apartment dwellers with me. Two cats just seems right, despite the stereotype that cats are loners who prefer the solitary hunter's life. Hey, Crosby Stills and Nash immortalized the notion in song: "Our house is a very, very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard..."
Of course, mine are always confined to the inside of the very fine house... when you lose your first cat under the wheels of a speeding car, you never forget...
On the other hand, maybe it's easier to lose a cat that way, suddenly, at the hands of someone else... rather than have to hold its life in your own hands.
Lily and her sister, Jade, arrived in 1997. June 13th. A Friday. But these little kittens, a calico and a tabby, littermates adopted from the DuPage Animal Care and Control, were anything but bad luck. They were signs of jittery, skitter, playful, thriving life in a summer of death: my mother in July, Princess Diana in late August, Mother Teresa days later in early September.
One thing I've noticed in this practice of keeping dual (and sometimes dueling) felines, is that one will inevitably have personality traits similar to my own...and the other will be the opposite.
Lily was definitely the alpha cat in this pairing, and it was she who was my alter ego: lean, slightly neurotic, snappish on occasion, but loyal and loving in her own way. She liked it quiet and didn't cotton to strangers, being the first to flee at the ring of the doorbell and the last to emerge... and then only to peer cautiously around corners and from under chairs, scoping out the intruders from a safe distance. Lily always went her own way.
Lily passed most of her time lately sleeping. When she was up, she was usually wandering around the house, caterwauling, ever more crotchety, nipping at legs and toes, apparently suffering from something called feline cognitive dysfunction as well as a general decline in health. And yet still loving and loyal, in her way. The way she'd squinch and blink her green-yellow eyes, saying "I trust you... I love you" in the way cats do. She was seventeen years old, which is about 84 in human years. I spent the better part of the past year hoping that I would wake one morning to find that she had passed on, joining her sister, keeping her body's own timetable, saving me from having to make the decision. I spent a lot of time being angry at her for getting old and angry at myself for not being able to deal with everything that meant.
I didn't think I would cry as much as I did.
I lost a soulmate yesterday.
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