14 years. I have been through losing a home, and gaining several others, marriage, and divorce, long relationships and short, loss of a job, another marriage, losing relatives I adored, watching my friend die of cancer, having two nephews, happiness beyond belief and sadness beyond words, too … But the one single thing that ripped my chest open, yanked my heart out, and threw it against the ground, reducing me to a big pile of nothing had to be a 5 pound cat.
But this is not about me and my grief. It is about the most loved and adored cat there was – my buddy cat, Fero.
I adopted him when he was 3 months old, when my former husband wanted a cat that behaves more like a dog. My husband was adamant about an Abyssinian. I didn’t care. I just wanted a cat. And a dog Fero was. But he was also a human, and a cat. And so much more. An angel, a total pig when it came to eating, and a motorboat, too.
Fero died this morning, after a long time of fighting whatever reduced him to 5 lbs (from 14) and about a month of fighting kidney failure. The way out was not his choice entirely, and I hope that one day I can forgive myself for making that choice. And I really wish dearly that people would stop telling me that I did the right thing!
I don’t think there ever was a person that ever, in 14 years, met him, even for one minute, that doesn’t remember him! His favorite thing in the whole world besides food was the doorbell. He loved to greet everyone when there was ever any movement at the door, and that included us, and the plumber, too. He talked to everyone. He asked them how they were, in his sweet growl and told them about his day, in his soft voice too. Someone who would only see him once, like an electrician or a contractor, would say, over years “oh, you have that cool cat”. They would not remember his name, or my name for that matter, but they would remember “that cool cat”. I have a coworker who only saw him once, but his son picked him up and could not believe the friendliness. He calls him “the purple cat”, although he was not purple. But he was that unique.
Even when he was sicker than sick, the nurses would greet me at the door with “Oh, Ms. Wilson, he has been a chatter box. He has told us all about his life, and about how much he hates that IV, and he’s asking us about our days, too. He must be feeling better”. Yes, he was that friendly!
He had ticked brown hair, beautiful, clear, almond shaped eyes, gorgeous to the very end. He had a smile on his face and a happy outlook about him. A louder than loud purr, and a beautiful, kingly allure. He was royal, and he was what you call “a presence”. You were never not aware that Fero was in the room. He brightened it up and was the center of the conversation. He made sure of it. And he was so worth it! He would not live to be a bore.
Whoever said cats have no personality has never truly met a cat. And whoever said that cats are selfish creatures, independent and wanna be left alone has never met Fero! He was completely selfless. He was more in your business than he was in his. He was at the door when you walked in, next to your lap, when you were on the couch, on the spare dining room chair, at the dinner table, and right next to your pillow, when you laid down for a nap.
This just in August - with my nephews, joining us for dinner and a movie, later. Always present.
His biggest passion was food. He loved everything, or at least he thought he did. He begged for anything that came out of the fridge, and everything on the counter, or on your plate. He asked politely, with a tilt of the head, in a questioning growl that I will miss soooo much, if he could try anything you were having. Anything. He was always, and I mean always on the island stools when I prepped for cooking, just watching me carefully. He was always on the same chair as me, when I was having my breakfast. Even when he was sick last week, he carefully watched my husband mix the batter for the Thanksgiving pie. His favorite foods, beside any brand of cat canned food were ham, white chicken meat, popcorn and potato chips.
He was not ever a lap kitty. He was too much on alert for the doorbell for that. But he loved to cuddle. His favorite was to breathe hard in your ear while purring, or in the root of your hair. And he loved, loved, loved to have his tummy rubbed. My favorite mornings, here in Utah, were when I would find him in front of the hot vent in the winters, all stretched out asking for me to rub his tummy. He purred, forever and he would never get enough …
He always jumped and was present in the kitchen every single time the fridge opened, or the pantry door. He was so incredibly smart. They tell you that Abyssinians will learn words, just like dogs, and will respond to commands. I don’t like training pets to do things on command much, so I never took the time to train him. But he definitely learned the word “treats” on his very own!
He learned the Windows shutdown song, on my Dell laptop. Every time the song would come on (and he of course was right next to my wrist as I was typing), he jumped in the middle of the room, and headed for the kitchen. He knew it was time for a bedtime snack. And I mean, every single one time, in 14 years! Lately, I muted my laptop, in the hope that he would just chill. It took him probably about a month flat to figure out that the sound was gone, and he was now sitting perched over my shoulder on the back of the couch, just so he could watch my screen. When the screen would turn blue, I was not even closing the lid, but when I pressed the shut down button and the pictures would disappear – he knew!
He loved to redecorate my house with his toys. I have a some cat toys, small, furry things I bought over the years, and people have given me, as gifts for all my cats, and I keep them in a plastic basket, out of the way. He would meticulously pull each one out, and spread them all over the dining room floor, where they would get premium visibility. I listened to him, and only put them away when I had guests.
I’ll miss his wet nose in my ears. And his jumping in the middle of the kitchen every time the laptop shuts off. And his bony fingers mashing and webbing into mine. I’ll miss the smell of his feet, and of his breath. I’ll miss sharing my meals with him, and especially the popcorn and my breakfast bar in the morning. I’ll miss his nose glued to my bedroom door in the morning and to my entrance door when I come home from work.
14 years. We have watched each other at our worst and our best. I have cradled him to sleep as a baby and as an old sick kitty, and he has cradled me, through my many disappointments. At the end of the hardest day in my life, there was always his reassuring paw on my forearm, and his soft talk, and his deep, brown eyes, and his friendly tilt of his bony, earful head. He’s made me love cats more than I thought possible before, and he’s made me hate people more. I just hope I gave him at least an ounce of what he has given me.
When I adopted him 14 years ago, I signed a piece of paper that made me promise I would care for him, that I would not declaw him, and I would not allow flees, worms or any kind of parasites to live in or on his body. That I would not hurt him, or adopt him further to other people. I kept that promise religiously for every single day of every single one of those 14 years. Except … for the past months, where he’s been sick. I could not shield him from this one. The Big one! I could not. I did not know how. And I will never forgive myself for it, either!
Even skinny, he was still joyful, happy and communicative – till the kidney failure set in. And then, a week ago, he stopped eating. I knew he was near the end when my baby stopped eating. Stopped begging for food, and stopped jumping in the kitchen every time the silverware drawer would open. Then, two days ago, he stopped drinking. And then moving on his own.
I am not running through this to give myself absolution. This was also part of his life. The very sad, but fortunately, very short, part of his life. He trusted me blindly. I moved him across the country and I would crate him every single day in the car ride, and he never fought it. He talked and talked in the car, but I think he was asking for explanations. Oh, how I wish I could give those to him!
I am not quite sure how I’ll move on from here, but like Churchill said … I’ll have to just keep going. Blindly, and hurt, and down, I will keep crawling, and praying that my Fero is well and we shall meet again, on a sunny, beautiful pasture, somewhere.
They say kitties go to kitty heaven when they die, but I swear Fero would love a people heaven. Full of good hearted people that would listen to his stories and would feed him whatever they could spare.
Wherever he is now, I hope he’s free of pain, and there is plenty of foods and toys for him to enjoy. I hope it’s warm, and there is a vent he can purr by. I also hope they have a Windows, not a Mac, computer with a Windows XP song.
There is no way I could ever, in a million words, even begin to do justice to this amazing cat! I am just trying to leave a mark in time about his beautiful givings to us, and I am just trying to get this out of my chest, as it smothers me. As it should!
I am forever humbled that this unbelievable creature has spent most of his short life with me. I will never be the same because of his passing, but mostly because of his life and what he has taught me. Egyptians worshiped cats, and now I know why.
Rest in peace, little buddy. Until we shall meet again, momma loves you forever and always just the same.
June 1, 1998 - November 26, 2012