Saturday, March 28, 2015

The cat who cast a long shadow

10 years ago today, we put our cat down. In a world where millions live in fear and whatever the opposite of freedom is, where children grow up hungry and without hope of breaking the cycle, where good people die young and those who take advantage of others so often seem to escape justice, the life of a cat seems ridiculously trivial indeed. And in virtually all respects, it is.

But he was our cat, and he was a part of our lives for a dozen years. And small memories, however trivial they may seem at first - or even second - glance, still matter in the lives of those who retain them.

We had had Shadow since he was a tiny little thing, and after a late-night escape attempt outside the pound from which we had just adopted him, some tenuous nights spent hiding under the covers hoping he wouldn't claw us in the dark, and a disturbing sequence of broken glass, chewed-up flowers and destroyed furniture, he settled into quite the contented life with us.

He was there when we brought our first munchkin home from the hospital, when we pulled up stakes and moved to London in the dead of winter, when we settled into our new home here and welcomed two more little people into the family. As he imprinted himself on the top of our couch, he also imprinted himself on us.

He taught our kids what it was like to treat others with care, and how to communicate non-verbally. Through him, they learned empathy, patience and gentleness. When he got sick, they learned how precious life is, and ultimately what loss feels like. He was their first real pet, and they continue to carry those early lessons as they continue their own journeys into adulthood.

So, yes, he was a silly cat who wrecked the house, ruined our sleep and drained our wallet. But a decade after we said goodbye, his rather long shadow continues to touch us. And as I look at our kids who were lucky enough to have their "Best Cat" in the house for as long as they did, I can't help but think that they're better people because of him.

On balance, it ended up being a reasonable tradeoff.

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Kalei's Best Friend said...

You hit the nail on the head.. I agree w/u on all points... The fact that he 'was just a cat'... is just that.. some would trivialize the importance.. but that 'just a cat' played a big role in your lives... when u think about it, we all play a part in each other's lives.. depending on the circumstances and to the degree that we relate w/each other.. and w/hope, we all become better than before.

MorahMommy said...

As you said... he was our cat. He was special and we were lucky to have him for as long as we did.

He was our family.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. My cat is family as well and sometimes it's hard for others to understand the bond you can develop with your pet.

Tabor said...

If there is no sorrow or pain in our lives how can we appreciate and understand joy. If we never make a sacrifice for something else how shallow our lives become.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I still miss my cat Max, from about 9 years ago.

Thumper said...

I still miss Dusty, and she's been gone for 14 years. I miss Hank, too, after over 10 years. When Max and Buddah go, I'll be wrecked.

But...I wouldn't change it. The fact that they all hurt so much means they meant so much and every minute was worth it. Even though I don't think so when Max shoves his nose up mine at 3 in the morning.