If a poorly thought out, sentimental post is not your bag today, please just scroll on, because my cat died. So carefully polished is out, sentimental is in.
Now that I’ve thrown that spoiler out there, Let us hop in the Wayback Machine and go back to the olden days of the 1990s. (Forgive me for the ludicrous analogy, but as far as technology goes, the web of the 90s is about as much like the web of today as TVs that had the UHF dial are like my iPhone… and some of you have as much idea what the internet was like in the 90s as you do of what, exactly, a “UHF dial” might be.) There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. You could not just roll up on some hilarious cat memes by accident. There was no single, huge site where thousands and thousands of people could be relied upon to visit every day. Actually, there was, but we called it “AOL.” Everyone was on dialup, and the net was a much smaller place. And if you wanted to share a few LOLs with other cat lovers, you chatted in the Cat Fancy forums. (Cat Fancy has also gone on to the big ol’ catnip field in the sky.)
The other thing that those forums were good for was networking. We asked for and got cat behavior tips that you can now crowd source on Facebook way more easily, and if we knew of an animal in need of a home, we spread the word. Our members might not be in the market for another cat OURSELVES, but we could network on behalf of the person trying to home the animal. One of those postings that popped up was titled, “I’m going to steal a kitten if I can find it a home.” <— That’s some vintage 90s clickbait, and I clicked right along with all the other suckers… and to borrow a page from modern clickbait practice, “what I read there stopped me dead in my tracks!”
My husband and I (not Joy Makin’ Mister. Clutch your pearls, JMMister is Mister #2) at the time were involved in role playing games as a hobby. (This did not, in those days, involve a computer in any way. Sorry kids, no time to explain now.) One of the characters we created had a cat, and the cat had a bad paw, and… well, I’ve forgotten some of the details in the intervening years, since I’ve been busy with other things, and she and the cat were fictional anyway. So I opened this posting, and there is a description of the cat, and it’s this cat I made up, described to a T. Okay, maybe it’s not that uncommon to be a gray and brown, shorthair, tiger striped kitten who’s more or less abandoned and has a bum paw that makes a permanent limp- but I’ve only ever met one in real life, and the fact that I had created a cat named Archimedes who was basically that cat seemed pretty darned coincidental to us. Even more so when it turned out he was located less than an hour’s drive from somewhere we were already planning a road trip. Three weeks later, Archimedes owned us all- me, my husband, and the two cats we already had. (Okay, not really. He and Rom were thick as thieves from the word go. Remus had to warm up to him a little.)
‘Medes and his tiddy-bump little walk would remain mine (and I his) through two moves, several jobs, two marriages, one divorce, two “milestone” birthdays, two pregnancies, and two small humans whom he loathed and feared more than words can say. We had adventures, he and I, in our own little way, and his trademark FEED ME NOW yowl soon became the only holdover of his garage-dweller days. Eventually, he left even that behind as years of full food bowls reassured him he would never be homeless and hungry again. Without being melodramatic, we grew up together. And then, just as I came into the prime of my life, he grew old.
And that’s ok. I mean, it’s what we want for all those we love, right? To live out the fullness of their allotted span as free from pain and sadness as possible? And while we obviously want all our loved ones, furry or human, to live forever, that would just bring about the zombie apocalypse or Pet Sematary, so we aren’t going there. And that final goodbye is part of the contract I made when I took ‘Medes into my life.
I just wish it wasn’t such a bummer. And I wish I could tell the Kitten Stealing Cat Fancy Forum Member, wherever she is, that it turned out ok. That the pitiful ball of fur she was so worried about almost two decades ago grew up, got spoiled, got fat, grew old, and passed peacefully in the short space between full food bowls. Because we all want to know that we’ve made that kind of difference, whether it’s to a cat or to another human being.
So rest well, sweet ‘Medes. Say hi to Rom & Remus, who came and went before you- and to Sunny, too, although you never liked him all that much because he was just too neurotic and I’m pretty sure you thought he should suck it up a little, what with never having a paw crushed and having been fed on canned cat food until he was big enough for kibbles and getting to start life with the sweet deal you were grateful to luck into. But say hey to him anyway, okay? It’s not his fault he didn’t really need saving.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted.
And all you other cat lovers out there will understand when I say that I shall knock my own drink to the floor and laugh at some Grumpy Cat in memory of Pudge Butt. Rock on, kittez.