Tuesday, May 12, 2009


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I never thought I would grow into one of those people who tells pet stories. OK, I never thought I would chuck babies's cheeks or say "My how you've grown" to my grandson or, for heaven's sake, start to sound like my mother. My mother wrote sing songy poems with contrived rhymes to the little things in her life--kids, cats, dogs, and a famous one for which she won third prize in a Pepsodent contest in which she waxed ironically lyrical about dandelions.

I have obliterated nearly every one of those "nevers", so I might as well go whole hog and take some time and space just to talk about an ordinary cat--as if there could ever be such a thing! I call Tabby an ordinary cat because he never became famous for dialing 911 to save his family from burning flames or make a thousand mile journey to get back home or become infamous for stealing socks from a next door neighbour.

He was a cat that liked to be liked. He came into my acquaintance when my grandson and daughter adopted him from their local shelter. He had been abandoned by his previous owners. Abandoned not just by the roadside which is horrible enough for a house cat, but left alone without food or water in their apartment after they had left. I don't recall now how he was found, but the good news is that he was found: first, by the rescue people, and better yet, by my daughter and grandson.

They were able to give him the love and patience that allowed him to trust again. By the time he was officially a senior cat--as the cat food manufacturers and vets label a cat 8 years and up--he no longer had panic attacks when suitcases came out of closets.

He mellowed sufficiently to tolerate and to become genuinely fond of another feline orphan on the storm, Cocoa. Cocoa came from a shelter and went to the home of a friend of mine. When I told my daughter that Cocoa was in danger of being returned to the shelter, she agreed to take her in. Cocoa and I drove the 200 miles from Indianapolis to Chicago in companionable silence. When we arrived, Cocoa disappeared somewhere within the apartment and was not seen or heard from for some days.

This piece of the story is not about Cocoa except to note that she is normally quiet and tends to take her feelings off to a safe distance--under the dishwasher or deep in some corner. So when Tabby died, it was Cocoa that sent up the alarm. When my daughter relayed the sad news, she said that Tabby had been in a decline as they say here in Scotland for some time. Losing Tabby is only a little less difficult for being expected. The consolation is that Tabby had a good life. As recently as my last visit, Tabby was still playing with strings and toys. A phrase from a medieval text book long ago described an old man "who kept a green heart even into his old age." I think Tabby was like that. Of course those of us who are fond of cats know that each and every one is extraordinary in some way. For me Tabby will always be a testament to a heart that can learn to trust again.


At 7:49 AM, Blogger scorrie said...

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