Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The beast of honor

Recently, while doing some housekeeping on EP and going through some very old posts that either needed deleted or transferred to the vault, I noticed that there were no complete posts about my first "baby".

Back in 2006 when I started this blog, I needed an outlet to kvetch about breastfeeding and my agony over whether to stop pumping at work, being a working mother to 2 kids, a wife to a stay at home dad, and well, just to kvetch in general. (Boy, things haven't changed much have they?) And it just occurred to me that there's a member of this family that has yet to receive an entire post: my cat.

Her name is Cleo. Or now, affectionately coined by my oldest son a few years back, Coco-B (B is the first letter of my last name, but the kids really call her that with the "B", I'm not editing for anonymity). I first got Cleo, as she was named by me, back in December of 1994 with my ex-husband in NJ. She was a feisty member of an orange and white clan of kitties, and was equally feisty when I brought her home, scarring me up and down my legs and arms with playful, albeit painful, scratches. Even though she was like a sniper on my ankles, she was hard to resist, as she was really cute and had that deep, trembling purr that made your legs vibrate when she curled up next to you.

And so life went on with a divorce, a new apartment, then a new husband and another new apartment. Throughout the mobility, she was a consistent presence; a being that always represented familiarity even though she couldn't trade conversation. She always pissed me off, and yet I wasn't complete without her around. Anywhere we moved, home wasn't complete until the litter box and the food dishes found their designated spots. And she always found them. 10 times since 1994.

And then came the kids, and while she used to be a frequent subject of the camera, she isn't so much anymore. While organizing photographs recently I noticed, just like the youngest kid never has any childhood pictures, she, too has been ignored. And then again, as I leaf through the photographs over time, she's become less and less of the generous subject. These days, I can hardly get her to look at the camera. I wonder why that is.

During the summer months, she enjoys the warm sunshine on the porch during the middle part of the day, and then hovers close when I'm gardening. And like a dog, she follows the kids and I down the street to our local park, while our neighbors marvel at "that cat that follows her family down the street."

She's so light these days I can lift her with one arm. She used to be a burly, butch of a cat, with thick, bristly, bright orange hair. And her personality was equally bristly. Now, the fur on her back is thin, scarce and dull. Her eyes are more tired. Her gait is less frisky. Her attitude less confrontational. She is certainly in the autumn of life at 14. Although she still longs for my lap, like a child needing to be cradled in his mother's arms for comfort. Just one more time.

So she is 14 now. She has most definitely seen it all. Heard it all. Lived it all. If only she could talk, I fear the words that would spill out of her mouth. It is a blessing and sometimes a burden how much a pet can become a part of you, a part of the family. A completely dependent being with unrelenting needs and wants. A blessing that they can give so much joy; a burden that they pass so quickly. I would bet Cleo has a few more years in her to stick around. Just to piss me off. And just to break to my heart when she goes.



Blogger Alissa said...

We lost our long-time kitties a couple of years ago. They had long, happy lives, and one would follow us around the neighborhood like your Coco-B.

She's adorable. I love kitties. We have a new one, now. We had planned to just be a one-dog family, but I needed a kitty.

Okay, my word verification is "bringtp." Bring toilet paper?

6:39 AM

Blogger Alex Elliot said...

I love pet posts! I've been meaning to do birthday posts for my pets. I remember when our family dog past away when I was 24 thinking that he had been with me for almost all any of my major life events. He was with me through all my boyfriends and when I got engaged to my husband. Cute cat!

7:21 PM

Blogger Heather said...

My cat is similarly neglected, on blog and off. She tends to ignore all of us most of the time now. She's almost 13 years old now and getting arthritic. Sob!

8:59 PM


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