Telling Thomas’ story could take an exceedingly long time. He was there at the beginning of our marriage, in 1996. He was still there when the last child left home to marry. I’ll try to be brief, but no promises.
A friend of our daughter’s cat had a litter of kittens. It was clear they wouldn’t keep them, so we had to take him from his mother too soon. He was so small, but they told us he was the smartest in the litter, so he’s the one we chose to take home. They weren’t wrong.
I still remember what my wife said. “We’ll take the tiger kitty.”
That first night he kept us all awake, wandering about, loudly meowing for mom, milk, and his lost litter mates. He was so young we had to feed him Ensure, so small he’d fit in a coffee mug. So cute he became “the first cat I ever really loved”(TM).
At his peak, he weighed 18 pounds. When the vet lifted him out of his carrier, one time, he said “that’s one big cat”, but he was never “fat”. Last week, no longer able to eat, barely able to stand, he couldn’t have weighed 10 pounds dripping wet. I don’t think he suffered, but I don’t regret my decision to send him over the Rainbow Bridge. He would have suffered if I hadn’t.
I will miss him.
Throughout his life he was so unafraid of people that I feared it might be his undoing, some day. People aren’t nearly as nice as Thomas thought they are. But maybe I’m wrong, because anyone who met him wanted nothing more than to pet him. It was amazing how he’d charm them. Our neighbors would mention that they’d left the front door open (in Southern CA this happens a lot) and “Thomas came to visit”. He’d walk right in the door, looking not so much for attention as the company of people. We really did have to take him from his mom too soon, and sometimes I think he thought he was a people.
Mental images, thoughts, and memories of Thomas are racing through my head, right now, and not in chronological order.
Walking through our housing development with Thomas walking beside us, like a well-trained dog. Thomas fetching crumpled balls of paper once had me convinced he was the reincarnation of a beloved lab-mix I had named “Sagan”.
Him walking right up behind a skunk, tail raised, and sniffing its butt, then walking away “unstinkified”.
Two dogs appearing outside the bedroom screen door one morning. Thomas sat calmly looking at them, then erupted in such a violent attack, it was the speed that astounded me, that left a torn and shredded screen door and two (big and) terrified dogs high-tailing to back home. Then there was the time he stood down a 100 lb Belgian shephard by simply arching his back and circling him. (Titus is a good dog.)
Taking Thomas and Allyson (get it? Tom Cat and Ally Cat?) on an all-night flight from the West coast to the East when I took my first job out of college, before 9/11, when there could still be 2 pets on one flight. Allyson, who I had charge of, spent the entire trying to get out of her carrier. I didn’t sleep a wink. Thomas, who my wife was responsible for, trusted his humans completely and slept contentedly the entire trip.
Then there was the night I pointed the laser poiner at a spot halfway between Thomas and Allyson. Their hips swivelled as then dropped their front legs to the floor, then “WHAM!”, attack! Only the attack ended in them butting heads. Forgive me, but all these years later that attack that ended with two dazed kitties sitting on their haunches wondering what the fuck just happened still makes me laugh.
Later, when the clowder grew (a story for another day) we began feeding the clowder wet food. Thomas didn’t eat with him. He just wanted to lick the empty cans clean, like he did when he was an only cat, every time I opened a can of tuna. “Come get your cans, Thomas” is something I’ll never say again.
There’s so much more I want to say, but I’m only going to say this. Thomas loved to be cradled in my arms like a baby, on his back. If you don’t think that’s significant, give it a go. Try picking up a cat and flipping him/her on his/her back, then cradling him/her in your arms.
I’ll wait while you put merthiolate on the scratch marks on your face, neck, and arms.
He knew I wouldn’t, couldn’t, hurt him. And I just made the decision to kill him. Because I
loved love him, and I didn’t want him to suffer. It’s going to hurt for a while.
Goodbye for now, Thomas. You’re a good kitty.
If we aren’t reunited with our pets in heaven, it ain’t heaven and I ain’t going.
Tags: natural wonders
You must be logged in to post a comment.