About to get into the car this morning to drive to the train station, I saw another car speeding away down the street. I didn’t really get a look at it, because my brain wasn’t quite working due to our cat Cuddles lying in the middle of the road. I won’t – can’t – describe it in detail, but she was alive for maybe another two minutes or so.
In what seems like a previous life, I was a paramedic and even began to study Medicine for a while before turning to Computer Science. I’ve seen death, I’ve seen dying, I’ve dissected cadavers. I don’t know why my cat’s death upsets me this much. Maybe it’s that it was just so… undignified. I cried like a schoolgirl (not that there’s anything wrong with schoolgirls) before waking the kids and telling them about it.
Cuddles was our daughter’s cat, at least nominally, who named her when we first got her as a tiny fluffy kitten. But in truth she was a family member.
The name wasn’t very accurate; she never enjoyed cuddling on our laps for very long except on rare occasions. When she did grace me with her cuddliness, she’d stomp around on chest and belly and legs and crotch, purring while digging in with her claws, and refused to settle down for a minute or two, pushing herself up on her hind legs if necessary to rub herself against anything in range. Then, when she finally did calm down, and I could take my hand off the family jewels and stop trying to extract her claws from my skin and clothes, wondering why they weren’t cut into bloody ribbons, she’d curl up in my lap, and turn every which way so I could scratch her in all the places that needed it. After just another couple of minutes of that, she’d get up, find one of her favourite alone-time spots, and curl up there to sleep. Strangely, it made you feel both abused and honoured. “I’m going to use you to get my attention and my petting,” she’d tell you, “and then I’ll just leave you like a dumped lover. Oh, and you’re going to like it!”
God, I’ll miss that. And I’m really more of a dog person.
She had the cutest of meows, mixing a purr in with it to make it more of a “prrr’ow!” Our daughter can reproduce that same noise extremely well. When I was hoarse from calling the cat’s name so she’d finally come inside and eat her cat food, thinking her miles away, my daughter would simply “prrr’ow!” in the backyard, and Cuddles would suddenly pop out from somewhere and let herself be carried inside like the queen she was.
Cuddles got along wonderfully with all the other pets we’ve had (after a period of hissing at them to let them know their place, because size has nothing to do with rank in our household), except for our tomcat, Merlin.
She didn’t like him from the start and has never forgiven him (he’s a few years younger) for being playful when she wanted to be left alone. (Even though she did the exact same thing to Merlin’s predecessor, Chaka.) I think Merlin is physically unable to completely retract his claws and playing with him can be… ouchy. So, hard as it was, I’ve chased Merlin out of my office whenever he made another attempt to claim it, and at some point he gave up, allowing it to be Cuddles’ safe haven. Many a night while I was sitting there at my desk, typing away at my story or working on some project or other, or, lately, blogging, she’d curl up on the comfy chair and purr herself to sleep, safe in the knowledge that I’d valiantly defend her from that other nasty tomcat.
I’m staying home from work today. That’s not an easy decision for me, because I’m an IT contractor, and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. My wife and I went for a long walk with the dogs (this post has a picture of all four pets sleeping…) and talked about how it might’ve been easier or better if she hadn’t lived for those two more minutes, but that we were glad we could be with her in those last few moments. Two of our three kids are battling a cold, so we’re all staying home for a “personal day” today.
Work will still be there tomorrow.