Friday, June 24, 2005

Cinder meets Darwin

My mother's cat? The one I was going to euthanize because the neighbors complained about her and called the Animal Cops on us? Yes, that one. The one who had lived in my Mom's garage and driveway for 21 years, stalking mockingbirds, killing lizards, growing increasingly to resemble nothing so much as the undead. She passed yesterday. And it wasn't even my doing. I woke to find my dear husband digging the grave in the backyard (no, he didn't do it either) and warning me to get the dogs and the baby back in the house. It was very cinematic. "Cinder's gone." he said. Hardly a surprise when a 21-year-old cat dies. It's like shaking your fist at God for taking your dearest 268-year-old aunt. "Damn you! She had just begun to LIVE!" Frankly, we did not believe she would ever go. When Mom died last year, my brother and I were at a loss about the cat. We tried to move her to a friend's house, but she was miserable and desperate to leave. She was happy only at Mom's house, where she was the queen of all she surveyed. One time, when I was in high school, I came home from school to find Cinder stretched superlong and sunning herself contentedly on the driveway. A couple of feet away from her, on the lawn, were feathers. I started looking around for bird remains that needed removal, but could find nothing. In the middle of the feathers were two feet. Cinder had devoured the rest. I know - it's awful. That is precisely the reason cats should be kept indoors. That, and of course, to avoid their getting sick and dying prematurely. She and the birds had a longterm relationship. Even up to her death she was stalked regularly by one mockingbird or another. My son and I joked that it had been the SAME bird for the p ast 20 years. Elderly adversaries who hated each other as much as they needed each other. Since we've been staying in the house, Cinder had been coming inside on almost a regular basis. It was almost eerie, considering that for the 20 3/4 years before we came she couldn't stand to be indoors. But she had been coming in, sleeping under the end table and even letting our dogs investigate her. Day before yesterday I seriously began to wonder if we would have to take her home with us when we return to our house because she had been growing increasingly spry. At lunchtime I opened a can of soup and Cinder stalked the soup, then flew onto the countertop, knocking the bowl out of my hand and causing a great deal of squealing from me and Buttercup. We captured it: Cinder stalks soup Cinder attacks soup Cinder sitting You'd scream, too, if that were coming toward you. I will miss her. Mostly I will miss all the things that she seemed to embody - namely the part of my past that still literally lived in this house now that my mother is gone. She was a witness to a part of my life whose witnesses are becoming fewer and fewer. Part of me wishes I had taken her to the vet - held her while she passed. I could have done that much for her. ANd if she hadn't been jumping on counters and kicking the dog's ass, I would have done it. Instead, I tried to give her as much company as we could in the time she had left. Goodbye, Cinder. We'll miss you. May we all live to be so old and creepy no one wants to touch us. 100_1319


Blogger PPB said...

Aw, I'm such a soft touch with animals that I'm crying over Cinder, but it does sound like she lived until she died which is all we can ask for right?

I'm sorry that your witness pool on earth is shrinking.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Songbird said...

I suspect Cinder was content to meet the end alone; think about how many cats just wander off when they're "done." They are wiser in their own ways than we will ever be.
She sounds like a wonderfully brave and eccentric cat. And what a blessing to her that you were able to help her stay in her own familiar space until the end.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Moreena said...

So sorry to hear about your cat. Our own elder cat has lately begun showing signs of renewed energy and spriteliness. She also recently jumped on the counter and then stomped on the open Whiska's snack pouch (she gets half a bag with her meds in the morning and the other half with her meds in the evening) to ooze out all the stinky wet cat food and lick it from the floor. She also has been showing signs of unexpected tolerance and sociability (even allowing the baby to pet her, and actually purr about it).

So now I'm a bit worried, as that all sounds a bit familiar reading this entry.

Anyway, I'm sorry. I think PPB above put it best.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Rory Kearn said...

I'm sorry about your cat. I enjoyed the pictures and cried and laughed while reading. It's why I like reading your blog.

We had a very, very old cat when I was a kid. We sort of got him when my mom bought the house. They left, he stayed. His name was Spook and he'd had his jaw broken in a fight once and had his bottom teeth all sticking out at odd angles. He was too creepy to touch.

He disappeared one day and my mom found him a few days later, frozen in the garage. It was dead winter in Montana. He fell asleep and died peacefully. I missed him, too. Which was weird since he scared me most of the time.

I guess I can relate, except for the Mom part. I am sorry about that, too. I can't even imagine.

10:14 PM  

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