(Written to all those who knew Kitty)
Greetings to all of you. Some of you haven't heard from me for awhile, and for that, I apologize. Please know that all of you are frequently in my thoughts, and often in my prayers, regardless of how long it has been since we have seen each other.
The reason that I am writing to you at this very early hour on Memorial Day of the year 2000 is because all of you, to one degree or another, knew our grey cat Selina (also known simply as Kitty).
Kitty died this morning, about an hour ago. I thought you might want to know....
Kim and I took her in to the emergency veterinary clinic late last night because she was having difficulty breathing. She tested positive for FeLV/FIV (feline leukemia virus/feline immunodeficiency virus) -- retroviruses in the same family as HIV (but thankfully specific only to felines). On the advice of the veterinarian, we had her euthanized.
Now while I don't know whether our pets have souls, I do believe that God will make all of Creation (of which Kitty is certainly a part) right and new once again. I don't know how or when -- that is a Mystery -- but it will happen. No more tears....
And, I know that Kitty brought much joy and love into our lives, as well as into the lives of many of you. She was clown-ish, smart, and very loving of her people and her friends (once a friend, always a friend with her).
She expressed that love to many of you when you came to visit us (or, in the case of John and Alan, when we all lived under one roof). She would cannily wait for just the right lap to be formed, then happily jump up, make herself very much at home there, and begin purring loudly. It was a mark of particular affection for her to nuzzle your face, to bonk her head against your chin, or to scent-mark your eyeglasses. Serious indecision arose when she had multiple "favorite" laps to choose from.
While John and Alan lived with us in Tigard, Kitty considered it her solemn duty to herd Kim and I to bed each night between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. She would march to the foot of the stairs and begin meowing in a demanding tone of voice. Sometimes, she would even stamp her feet impatiently. As soon as Kim and I got near the stairs, she would race up the stairs in a grey streak and wait for us at the top of the stairs, meowing until we came up. Then she would race down the hallway to our bedroom, stop just inside the bedroom door, and commence meowing until we were both in the bedroom. At last, her mission of saving us from too late a bedtime accomplished, she would jump onto our bed and purr happily, content that all was right in the world.
In Salem, we have no stairs and no housemates, so apparently Kitty didn't see the need for herding. She still had a nightly routine, though. Every night for the last five years, within five minutes of me climbing into bed, there would the trot-trot-trot sound of Kitty coming into the bedroom, a soft chirrup, and then a small grey weight on my chest. Sleep was not possible until she could scent-mark the corners of whatever book I was reading that night while happily purring on my chest. When it came time to turn out the light and go to sleep, Kitty and I would begin the nightly negotiation for how much space she received on the blankets. Overall, I think it was never accurately determined whose bed it actually was -- ours or hers. Sadly, it is ours now....
If we were home mid-morning working or reading in the study, Kitty would walk in purposefully and vociferously demand a lap. She would actually force her way onto my or Kim's lap. If we got exasperated with her and tossed her off, it didn't phase her. She would simply try a different angle and keep on trying until we finally gave in for a while. Phone calls from the study during this time of day were virtually impossible, as she would purr and chirrup so joyously and loudly that it was difficult to carry on a conversation. After five to ten minutes of quality time with her people, she would allow herself to be dumped off.
Whenever we left town for a day or two, we had to be prepared for a butt-chewing when we returned. Kitty couldn't seem to make up her mind whether she was very glad to see us again or mad because we left. She would somehow manage to purr and sulk at the same time. She hated to travel, so she always eventually decided that she was happy to have us back again.
Kitty went through phases, especially in the first house we lived in in Raleigh Hills, where she would choose very odd spots to sleep in. We called it "nesting". She would choose a bookshelf (with books on it), a small space behind a desk, whatever. That was "her" spot for a few weeks. It seemed the weirder it was, the more she liked it. She especially liked drawers. Woe to the person who left a drawer open (especially if it contained socks), because Kitty would happily hop into it and sleep until we found her. Once we didn't see her and ended up with a meowing dresser.
She had a complete fascination with cupboard doors. She would take her paw and bat at the door to get it open. In Tigard, we were frequently awakened to the thump, thump, thump of Kitty playing with the cupboard doors in our bathroom. In Raleigh Hills, the kitchen had drawers AND cupboard doors. Hopefully none of you who visited there ever found cat hair in your food....
Our house now has linen cupboards in the hallway outside the study where I sit now writing this. Kim is too short to reach the upper shelves of the cupboards, so when she has get to them, she brings in the kitchen stepstool. One day she left the stepstool there while she was off elsewhere in the house. The cupboard doors were open, and one of the drawers below was partly open as well. Kitty happened by and saw this as an open invitation to nest. Up the stepstool she went, using the drawer as an extra step to get to the nice towels in the cupboard. Kim found her there later in the day, looking smug (yes, cats can look smug -- Kitty was especially good at it).
A rodeo ensued when Kim tried to evict Kitty from her new spot, with the end result being Kitty precariously perched on the uppermost shelf some eight feet off the floor (we have high ceilings here), determinedly digging her claws into blankets and comforters to keep from being removed. From then on, it was a game for her to see if she cold pull it off again, with her speculatively eyeing the situation whenever the stepstool made its appearance in the hallway.
Cooking with meat was always an adventure with Kitty. She would come into the kitchen at the first whiff of meat and aggressively demand her share. Her demands included stretching her paws to reach to the cutting board (yes, all the way from the floor!) and growling.
Speaking of food, there was a period where Kitty actually ate at the table with us for dinner. It was when we first moved to Salem. She had the habit of sitting on a dining room chair when we sat at the table. She always sat "properly" and expectantly. One day, we couldn't pass it up. We set a placemat for her and put a small saucer of milk at "her" spot. She daintily reached up and placed both paws on the edge of the table and had supper with us. Believe it or don't....
A few of you may have your own Kitty stories from times you visited or lived with us. I hope you take a few minutes to think about them and that they bring a smile to your face, as these stories I've shared have done for me.
Now I don't know whether the love we received from Kitty came from within her (despite her limited brain) or whether she was a way for us to experience a little bit of the Love of Christ (steadfast, never-ending, unfathomable, and unexpected). Perhaps it was some of both.
What I do know is that I will miss her terribly, and that my tears are not for her, but, selfishly, for me.
Good night, Babes. Rest well.
Page created 08/15/01 by Michael Heggen.
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