Missing pet is universal time of loss

Missing pet is universal time of loss

      Early for our physical therapy appointment last week we shared the waiting room with an obviously distressed woman we didn’t know who told us that she had just lost her cat. “ I loved that cat,” she told us. “She was always with me either sitting on my lap or close by. I don’t know what I’ll do without her she was such wonderful company.” And with that, she began to cry softly right there in the waiting room.

    We told her we were sorry and that the best thing to do was to get another cat as soon as the sadness started to lessen.  ‘’You can’t replace her but having another cat around will ease the loss,” I said.

     I should know. It’s been just over a year now when Lexie, my own beautiful long haired tiger tabby went out on the deck to get some air and just disappeared, never to return. That sweet-tempered beauty was always at my side. When we lost first our youngest son and later a grandson, she was right there for me to put my grieving face down into her luxurious fur and weep for our great loss.

She was a comforting presence in a time when I felt inconsolable. She seemed to sense my sadness. I know that sometimes old pets go off to die but she was a spry 13 so I think she was taken by a predator. My husband had seen a coyote in our neighborhood but we’ll never know for sure.

We brought her home from a shelter that claimed she was part Maine coon cat even though she never grew to be bigger than medium size. But her fur was wonderfully long and soft. You couldn’t keep from petting her, just to run your hand through that fur.

At any rate, when she disappeared, HiHo, the short-haired stray tiger cat who had been calling on her and whom we had adopted in the cold of winter, was left as the king of the roost. But despite his large size, this sissy is the proverbial scaredy cat. After scrounging outdoors for at least two years of his life, he suddenly decided he would be a house cat.

After Lexie disappeared, he became more and more reluctant to venture outdoors. Since he was a solid 17 pounds, it wasn’t easy for my husband or me to just pick him up and set him outside. We would stand at the open doorway and call him and he would just sit there looking disdainfully at us refusing to budge.

We had to set up a litter box down near the garage for him since he wouldn’t even go out to do his duty. “I think he saw whatever predator must have taken Lexie and is afraid it might happen to him,” I told my husband.

“Whatever the reason, he’s messy and  I’m tired of cleaning out his litter box,” my husband grumbled.

He’s not the only one. Linda, our cleaning lady who comes every couple of weeks, says that houses with pets are much harder to clean than petless abodes.  “You could probably give him to a shelter,” she said, siding with my husband.

But I couldn’t do that. In the first place, he’s better than an alarm clock. Every morning exactly at 7 a.m. he appears beside my bed patiently waiting for me to get up and feed him his breakfast. It’s almost uncanny how he knows when to wake me up although he spends most of his day sleeping. Unlike Lexie, he is rather remote (He rarely comes near us or wants to sit on our laps),

He’s still a presence in the house. He’s a neat looking cat with very nice markings and almost dainty soft grey legs and feet, but his short fur and aloofness don’t invite cuddling. In other words, he’s simply a cat living in the same house with us but he lacks the charisma of his predecessor. 

Still, when people come to visit, he’s right there to rub up against them, urging them to scratch his chin. He chased one young woman who was allergic to cats all around the living room coffee table as she tried to escape his advances.

So in choosing a pet, whether at a shelter or elsewhere, be sure to spend some time with the animal to discover his personality. Like people, pets all have their own idiosyncrasies and can be unpredictable. Better to know about them ahead of time because, unless something bad happens to them, they will be with you for a fairly long time.


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