Saying goodbye

When I first saw him through the pet store window, he gave me a look of total disinterest and turned his head away.  When I went inside and tried to engage him, he refused to make eye contact.  Since all of my cats have always been friendly, I didn’t know what to make of this character.  I assumed he was one of those stereotypical aloof cats who didn’t want anything to do with people unless he needed something, like food.  Well, that was fine.  I didn’t need him either.  I had just lost a cat and was still grieving.

As I was getting ready to walk away, the woman who rescued him started telling me his story.  He was abandoned, along with four other kittens and his mother, in a cardboard box inside a motel room.  All of the other kittens, including the mother, were adopted.  He on the other hand, with his “get lost” attitude, was still waiting after six months of sitting in cage.  Well, what could I do?  I always did like a challenge.

I brought him home and explained to him in no uncertain terms that I would not have an unfriendly cat in my house.   He gave me the stink eye and walked away.  I then proceeded to pick him up and carry him everywhere with me, while he squirmed and tried to bite and scratch me.  I just put on heavier shirts.  After he sneaked up behind me and bit me in the ankle a few times, I bought him a collar with a bell so I could hear him coming.  He then proceeded to chew through the collar so I wouldn’t have a warning that he was on the attack.  I then bought him a break away collar with a bell that he proceeded to break apart by using his paws and teeth.  After that, whenever he would bite me I would flick my finger again his forehead.  Oh, the look I would get when I did that.  But it worked.

Because of his big ears, I named him Mickey, after Mickey Mouse.  As he grew, he came to accept that I was not going to leave him alone, and realized that he actually liked to be pet and loved.  Within a few months, he was a happy, playful and loving cat.  I had a dog named Patches, and as she and Mickey played together, he began to take on dog-like qualities.  He would run to the door when I came home, fetch toys and sleep on Patches’ bed, which she did not like one bit. When my girl Patches passed away, Mickey would sleep on her collar.  He missed his dog.

When Mickey was around 7 years old, I met a man named Steve.  Steve was not very fond of cats.  However, since Mickey acted more like a dog than a cat and craved attention, Steve could not help falling for him.  Steve would pet and play with Mickey for hours, and those two became best friends.  When Steve would go out at night, Mickey would sit in the living room and stare at the front door waiting for him to come home.  Instead of my cat, he became our cat.

As he aged and lost his hearing, I taught him sign language and since he was smart, he was able to understand basic things like food, come, and no.  Yes, I still had to tell him no at times because he was still a little mischievous.  As he got even older and couldn’t play or run around as much, he was content to just sit with us or sleep on our laps and really loved pushing his face into Steve’s beard.  He would often want to do this in the middle of the night, which Steve accommodated.  They had some bond.

Last week, at the age of 21, we had to say goodbye to our boy.  We know he had a great life, a life filled with love and happiness, and we are so grateful to have had him for so long.  We will never forget him.


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