I put it off for longer than I should have. I’d known since July, when Spot started dropping weight, when she stopped sleeping at the foot of our bed because the jump was just too much effort, that her time with us was short. I put her on medicines to control the diabetes and the thyroid condition. I switched to moist cat food because it seemed easier for her to digest. When arthritis set in, in late October, the Cat Lady made Spot a little fleece-lined bed and we set her up in a cozy corner by the fireplace.
It may seem like a lot of trouble to go to for a tired out old cat, but ’round here our pets are part of the family. My husband’s cat, Spot was here when I moved in. For the past seven years her presence has been a natural and comforting part of this country life of mine, like the whispering creek and the big, shady trees. Her warm, rough tongue has more than once served as an alarm clock when the power went out in the night (how do cats know, anyway?) and her warm, furry body warmed my feet on many a cold winter’s night.
When we found J.J., three weeks old and motherless in the woods and brought him inside, Spot took it in her stride. When Lucille burst onto the scene with all her puppyish exhuberance, two years later, Spot flicked her tail and gave me a look that said… Here we go again. Not a very good playmate, Spot often returned Lucille’s affections with a swat at the nose or a good telling off but still, they had a bond. Lucille has known for longer than I have that Spot’s time on earth is short. She seemed to understand that Spot was no longer able to clean herself, and took the job on herself, licking her from nose to tail at least a couple of times a day. Or maybe it was just her way of offering comfort. I’m constantly amazed at how compassionate animals can be.
Two weeks ago the Cat Lady came to help me give Spotty a bath. She washed her and fluffed her dry, keeping her calm as only a cat lady can. As she was leaving, she said, “It’s time. You know that, right?”
Yesterday we dug a hole in the frozen earth, and today I laid my dear friend to rest. I know I did the right thing, but still, it’s hard. I have trouble with goodbyes. Always have. But if loyalty, compassion and kindness find their way to heaven no matter what form they took on earth, then I’m convinced this gentle soul has found a patch of sunshine along some golden lane, and I hope, the gentlest of hands to hold her. Until we meet again.