I'm a cat person - there's no doubt about it. There's something about a cat - things go according to their terms - and you have to play by their rules. And those rules are never clear or necessarily logical. But I love cats.
Our cat who we lost yesterday was named Mikaela. We called her "Boo Boo" because when she was younger, she liked to play a semi-hide and seek game - I am even looking at a picture as proof. We never thought she would make it to 15. 4.5 years ago when we were on vacation, she went into acute renal failure, and the vet kept her alive until we drove like heck home to see her. And so these 4.5 years were a gift, but with pets, well, it always seems too soon...
Boo Boo was found by a farmer along the side of the road in Minnesota, where I lived for about 3 years. A woman kept her until the right person came looking for a cat, and that was me. When I first saw her she was hanging out by a stream on the farm. She was only 6 months old and still very much a kitten. She was unique, but so are all cats. I lived in a townhouse and the owner didn't want cats wandering outside, so yes, she got used to being on a leash. She didn't need the leash when we would walk down the street to get the mail together. On her terms we got the mail together - she meandered along, but still was there with me. There was a field next to the townhouses; she would go hide there and I would try to find her (when she was illegally off leash). Later in life she would follow along when I walked the dog, in a cat way, off to the side a bit, but she was fully aware exactly where we were.
She was trained! When I would say "Show me stretchy," she would roll over and extend her long body as far as she could in a stretch. My husband trained her to do this "dolphin" move. You could hold out your hand and she would jump to reach it. She learned to hop on the sink and then request a drink; when she could no longer jump that high she would show up in the bathroom, meow, and announce it was time to lift her up.
She accompanied me on a trip to Colorado from Minnesota. I drove the 14 hours and she sat on my lap through a nasty ice storm in Nebraska. She was the calming force. When I moved back to Colorado, my mom and I were trying to find a hotel and none took pets. So my mom wrapped her in a blanket, climbed the stairs by the office, flung open the door to our room, and flung the cat inside. So back to Colorado went the cat, the goldfish, the plants, and me.
Back in Colorado, I got a tiny 1 bedroom apartment which is where I met my husband, Dave - he lived next door. Denver - apartments - parking lots - eeks! I would let her outside on her leash - she always loved the outside. I find it amazing that, after discovering I put my cat on a leash outside my apartment, Dave still dated me! Animal lovers...
Unlike most cats, Boo Boo didn't mind kids. When we moved into a house, kids would walk by our house on the way home from school. They would see Boo Boo and run toward her. Rather than run away, she would flop on the ground and let them pet her.
She also toured the neighborhood, jumping over fences and sitting on neighbors' porches. She would always return as if, no big deal - she had a cat door.
She adapted to my MS in a way that only a cat could. She "stole" the wheelchair! When it wasn't occupied, she would find it. The cat knew comfort! When I didn't feel well, she would just show up, as if to say, it's time for you to rest and me to sit on your lap and keep warm.
That cat went through a lot - moving from Minnesota to Colorado, then from one apartment to another, then a house, then came a baby, then another house! She traveled! After she was initially sick, she still played. She always loved to be outside. This past summer, when it was really hot, she wanted to spend the whole day outside and Dave and Lori would have to find her at night because she just wanted to stay out.
So there are fond memories of Boo Boo. "The end" is not what I want to remember - it wasn't pretty - she was a fighter. But her final sigh told me it's ok, thank you for being with me, and there are no more needle sticks, no more attempts to get me to eat, no more distress... there is now peace.
I want to remember all the good times... the times when she wasn't sure if she wanted in or out - that quirky nature of a cat. There are so many good memories.
This morning, I went to my weekly physical therapy. This seems odd to me - it seems like I should have stayed in bed. But I went. I walked a half mile on the assisted gait treadmill - that's a first. A half mile when I used to only be able to walk 50 or so feet?
Last Sunday someone said that no matter what the tragedy, we can find good in it. I'm not sure how to connect this to wonderful Boo Boo, but in perhaps that walk was some kind of tribute. A walking tribute, from our trips to the mailbox, our walks with the dog, ... half a mile.
And so Boo Boo, you gave me love, and trust, and joy, and though you are no longer by my side, your gifts remain and I have you ever in my heart.