Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Beloved Cats--RIP

When our daughter was in the sixth grade, she said to me one day after school, “Mom, I want a kitty.”
My dissertation on the fact that we were a dog family and already had one of those did not deter her.
“Poco’s my brother’s dog,” she said matter-of-factly.
We relented, of course, because she was a child who rarely asked for anything. Some children might beg and cry for a certain toy, doll, or game, but she simply did not do that. How could we deny her the pleasure of a sweet little kitty? The only stipulation she stated was that it not be a Siamese cat. “I’ve heard they’re mean,” she explained.
As soon as the local paper arrived later that evening, she spread the Classifieds out on the kitchen table. With great excitement, she ran her finger down the columns until she found “Pets.” We told her it should be a free kitten. She carefully read each ad, but all of them were about dogs. Finally, she located only one ad that listed cats, and it said “Kittens-Free.”
I watched as her narrow shoulders slumped. She was near tears. “There’s only one ad for kitties, and they’re Siamese. They have six.”
As any wise mother would do, I consoled her by saying we would look each day until we found the right one. But she decided then and there that she would take one of those, after all. I knew she did not want to wait.
By eight o’clock that evening, she was the proud owner of a small, beautiful, male Siamese kitten. From that moment, they were inseparable at home. She would lie down on her bed or lean back in a recliner, and the kitten jumped in her lap. If he saw a button anywhere near, the kitten sucked on it, soaking the surrounding fabric. Our daughter tried to break him, but it was a no-go. They only thing she could do was to wear clothing without buttons on the front. Of course, he became Buttons.
Before the year was out, a friends of hers said they had a new litter of kittens—Russian Blue. The first thing she ever begged for was one of those tiny balls of blue-gray fur. We relented once more, as loving parents sometimes do against their own rules; in this case, one dog, one cat per household. She chose another male, which she named Simon. My husband, ever the comedian, tried to convince her to name him Bows—so her cats would be Buttons and Bows. She did not think this was funny. So, he suggested she change Buttons to Garfunkel—then she would have Simon and Garfunkel. With a long-suffering sigh, she said, “Ohhh, Dad. That is not funny.” He gave up.
Buttons became a hunter of the first order. His daily mission became stalking a poor hapless bird, lizard, garter snake, or field mouse. With his wiry, fast body and smart brain, he was excellent. Very often, he caught something, but rarely did he kill or even maim. His goal in life was to wag it to the patio door and sit patiently with it squirming in his mouth until he received his hard-earned praise. Any one of us would step out to the patio, tap Buttons on the head, and he would release the small animal. Thank goodness, most of the time it scampered, slithered, or flew away. I asked my daughter once, “Why doesn’t he eat the animals he catches? A stalker usually does that.” Her answer was that he preferred Little Kibbles.
Simon, on the other hand, grew to gigantic proportions. The Russian Blue is naturally large, and when one is neutered, he adds more weight. He attempted to stalk, but he was far too lazy. I always said he needed “remedial stalking lessons,” because he ran his version of “full out” toward his prey. Actually, our lovable sloth lumbered along, giving the animal plenty of time to escape. In fact, a bird would watch and continue pecking at something, teasing until Simon was almost upon him. The cat never in his life caught anything.
There is always an ending to a story. Our beloved three animals behaved themselves very well and got along beautifully. I can’t say they were ever chummy, but they stayed near each other and did not fight. We were all family.
Our son and daughter grew up, graduated, attended college, married, or roamed the world. My husband and I became the caretakers of the animals. The dog was only a couple of years older than the cats, so they all became elderly together. In fact, I told people that my husband and I ran a nursing home for a dog and two cats. The three of them lived to be very old, for animals. During their lives, we spent as much money on veterinarians as pediatricians, so anyone could see that we took very good care of them. Each one lived with various old age ailments and met his demise simply from a deteriorating body. My husband, grown children, and I cried each time, as if we had lost a member of our family. Their photos are in an album with the caption, “Rest in Peace—Poco, Buttons, and Simon.”

Celia Yeary
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  1. Ahhh! I love stories where the pets become members of the family. Sounds like your group got along famously and that you and your husband taught your kids to love well. Hugs!

  2. MAGGIE--THANKS FOR READING. I'm waiting to post this because I'd rather readers go to Cindy's blog--much more important! So, I especially thank you for finding it. And thanks for going there, too. Oh, we spoiled those dang animals so much. I'll never have another pet, though. they are so much trouble. I'm just glad our kids had the pets they wanted. Celia

  3. The gray one looks just like my Gracie!

  4. Oh my God Celia, this is so much like what my husband and I went through as loving parents. First it was Rino a German Sheperd and Mitsie a black and white cat. Then Birdie, a yellow parakeet and finally Wendy, who stayed with us for nine years until we move to an apartment. Each of them had a story too long to tell. But we spent as much as you on vets for sure.

  5. LIANA-ahhh. How sweet. He was a very stupid cat--I don't know what else to say.He demanded attention and love, and if you ignored him, he'd slap out at you--not touch, just let you know he was not happy. But he couldn't seem to do any normal cat things.bless his heart. Celia

  6. MONA--see what we do? It's a common malady of parents.After they all died--close to each other--I said never again--and I meant it. Celia

  7. Celia, You have such a good heart*
    I had pets because I didn't have children. They always become part of the family and I suffer each time we lose one. But Chris and I need the love they give. It's so awesome to have unconditional love!
    Mary Ricksen

  8. MARY--I understand. Honestly, though, if my kids hadn't wanted animals, I wouldn't have, either.Oh, and my husband, too. Poco, the small white dog with long hair was our first animal. Our son was in first grade, daughter in third, and my husband walked them to and from school down an alley to save a few blocks. In a back yard, a tiny white puppy, covered in soot and filth, whined and cried and followed the three along the fence line every day. Pathetic little dog. One day, my husband stopped with the kids because the owner was in the yard.My ever so polite husband asked about the dog, and that she looked hungry and cold. The man said, I don't care--I don't want it. My husband said, we'll take her. And here they come, the three of them, rushing home to show me this pitiful animal. No! I said. I don't want that dog. Look at her. She's filthy and no pigment around one eye and her ear is bent back. But that little thing strained toward me, knowing she had to win me over, I guess, and whined and blinked her pretty eyes...uh, eye, and I didn't even realize I reached out to take her and hold her like a baby.That was the sweetest dog in the world. The entire neighborhood loved Poco--including me. Celia

  9. I'm a sucker for a pet story. Nicely done and how wonderful to have such great memories of beloved pets. We treasured all of the pets we have had throughout the years.

  10. MARYANN--thanks for the comment. I can tell you are definitely a pet lover. Our daughter and hwer husband have three big dogs--all found at the shelter or a pet fair.Celia

  11. Awww, Celia! What a beautiful blog. Please accept my condolences. I'm a "kitty mama" myself, and we recently had to put down our nearly 21 year old tabby, Saki, who was such a sweet, calm kitty. Many happy memories and blessings to hang on to, despite the hole left by his passing. I hope you find comfort in the fact that you're a wonderful pet owner - and I'm thinking of you!!