For those of us who live alone and have no children, our pets are surrogates.
Eleven fun-fill years, my cat Merlot cuddled, meowed and scratched at me every morning waiting for “dinner.” He was sometimes bothersome and oh-so talkative when I’d use milk and not offer him any; he won out. Many times when I was here at my computer he’d come in the office and jump up into my lap, then lie on the desk, just to be here with me. When I was reading or watching television in the evenings, I’d leave a space by the arm of the sofa next to me for him so he could come lie down, turn over and nudge me for belly and head rubs. He’d do the same early mornings in my bed before I was fully awake He was a lover. He was a home body.
Merlot was with me when I put down two of his “siblings.” I usually have two cats, and one time under different circumstances, I had three. Merlot was always in the mix. I got him after I put down another big, furry black and white kitty cat and Merlot looked almost the same. In Denver, the Denver Dumb Friends League is a brilliant animal shelter, and Merlot looked at me that one day 11 years ago and said, “I so want you to love me and me to love you.” When we “met” in the viewing room, he put his front legs around my neck and hugged me; he came home with me.
When it was just us, no other cats, we had a great time together. He made me laugh and he became a beggar for scraps at the dinner table, in the kitchen, on the sofa, and outside when I had guests. He was always around. He was a love bug. He was close to me almost all the time when he was awake. Oh, I miss him!
Two years ago I was lucky enough to bring Bali home. Bali is a Siamese-Tabby mix and gorgeous. The two of them sparred in the beginning, but they really did get along. I feel that cats and dogs need a buddy to spar and play with, and have as a companion. It’d been eight months of just us when Bali came into our lives. She’s an amazing “child” and Merlot liked having someone to chase up and down the basement steps and “slap” when she got too close, invaded his space; actually they were good friends.
I’m an animal lover and each animal I’ve had to put down, as you as animal owners know, breaks my heart. Domestic animals live an average of 10-12 years, and we outlive them by decades, but we continue to give our hearts away, spoil them, feed and care for them so they’ll have the best life they’ve ever known. When we put them down, we can hold them, tell them thank you for the time their shared, that I love them, and that as God’s creatures, they made a huge paw print on my heart. My first two cats came from a friend’s cat’s litter, and then Merlot came from Dumb Friends League. Bali came from another home and had been at a shelter for six weeks.
We don’t know what the cat’s life was like before s/he came into my house, but I can tell you that the life they have with me is pet nirvana; I hope the same with you and your animals.
Merlot didn’t venture out too much; he was a home body. But Bali’s high energy and adventuresome spirit sometimes caused him to not only venture across the street, but also to roam a block from home. I gave them that freedom; their own cat door. I also try to bring them in at night and lock the cat door because I’m concerned about predators – fox and coyote. Sometimes, I’ve locked Merlot out all night because I thought he was in and I knew Bali was, so I locked their door. (Bad form.) He was always at the front door waiting for me as I stepped outside pre-dawn to go to the gym.
Last night I had friends over for drinks. I served shrimp cocktail and Merlot was a bother; he smelled the shrimp and wouldn’t leave us alone. He was cute about it, but he was bothersome. The cats were out last night, and I went to bed not thinking about any danger.
Maybe, just maybe had I not had that third glass of wine I’d have heard his cries for help. Maybe, just maybe if he’d been just a bit faster. Maybe, just maybe if … there are no more maybes. Merlot was in the front yard this morning as I got up to go to the gym, but this time his ravished half-body and fur were strewn close to the driveway, obviously the remnants of a coyote’s feast.
He was almost safe inside, but… .
I’ll miss you dear Merlot. I’m so, so sorry for your violent death and that I wasn’t there for you. You were almost home.