Probably most of you know what it’s like to lose a beloved pet. They become members of the family and when they’re gone…well, it hurts.
It’s my turn now. A few days ago we had to say goodbye to one of our cats, Paws. Due to an interesting event during Paws kitten-hood she and I became bonded in a way that I had previously thought was only possible with dogs. Her loss has had a strong affect on me, so if you don’t mind, I’d just like tell you a bit about her. I’ll feel better. Thanks.
(Timeout: I don’t know if it’s “acceptable” for an average, grown man in his forties to shed tears over a cat, but this average man, apparently, does.)
We got Paws as a kitten in 1997. She was supposed to be on solid food when we got her from the shelter, but she wouldn’t eat for the first couple of days and we worried sick that she would die. Then someone told us we could buy kitten milk at the store (who knew?!). We picked some up right away and fed her with a children’s cold medicine syringe. First crisis averted.
Some months later Paws became very ill. She was jerking and twitching uncontrollably. It was like she had been poisoned or bitten by a spider. We took her to the vet and, since we were relatively money-strapped at the time, asked the vet to just do whatever would help her survive the night. Basically he just gave her a muscle relaxant and injected fluids under her skin to reduce her fever. We brought her home and I laid down on the floor with her on my chest. We slept like that all night. She survived. Second crisis averted.
A Bond is Born
From that day on, Paws was “mine” and I was “hers”. Dog owners never enjoyed a more faithful and devoted companion than I did in Paws. She was the most dog-like cat I’ve ever seen. (I was raised around cats so I’ve seen a quite a few). She was the only cat I’ve know who always came when I called her by name. She would play fetch with me exactly like a dog. She loved to play rough and wrestle, and when she occasionally became too rough always responded to the first firm, “No.” And oh, was she a talker, always greeting me with a series of chirps and meows and purrs, and holding endless Paws-Lon conversations.
Cats tend to bring their humans little gifts from time to time. Outdoor cats bring half-eaten mice and dead birds and the like. As an indoor pet, Paws brought me things like beanie babies and mittens, which isn’t as manly as power tools and nails but I guess she was safety conscious. Often, when Dawn and I went to bed at night, we could hear Paws caterwauling downstairs like, “Where are you? I’m down here all alone.” Then we’d hear her coming upstairs with that “I’ve got something in my mouth for you” kind of call. Next thing, she’d be up on the bed dropping a beanie puppy on my chest. And she was always leaving mittens out for us. One morning we awoke to find five gift mittens scattered at our bedroom door. Must’ve thought it was my birthday or something.
Paws learned a few of my human habits, too. For instance, she always stayed with me when I watched TV at night, and when the TV clicked off she knew it was time to stretch, get down, and go to the foot of the stairs to walk up with me. And if I didn’t come right away she meowed to hurry me up.
Paws couldn’t jump though. Weird for a cat, right? We think it was due to her malnutrition as a kitten, but we’re only guessing. Sometimes she would “pump” like a basketball player seven or more times before actually trying to jump (“I think I can. I think I can.”). Often, she missed and flopped to the floor. It was pitiful. And every morning when my alarm went off, she would meet me in our bathroom asking to be picked up so she could get a drink from the sink, because she couldn’t make the jump.
And that’s the Paws I won’t forget. Even now I’m surprised at how important her companionship became to me. But, I think I know why I became so attached to her. In her own animal way, she gave me the unconditional devotion that most of you pet lovers also experience, and that defies explanation. I think it’s because our pets accept us as we are without judgment of our wisdom, wealth, beauty, status, or previous actions. And isn’t that what we all secretly want? – Unconditional love. Total acceptance. Absolute forgiveness. Perhaps in a small way, our pets remind us that our Heavenly Father is at the foot of the stairs, calling us upward, homeward. He has a gift waiting for us.
Goodbye Paws. I know my Father will fill and over-fill the hole you left with Himself.
Thanks for telling me.