Friday, February 20, 2009

A good cat

I'm sure I've stolen this blog post title from one of my friends and fellow bloggers who went through the death of a pet in the past year or two, but it seems fitting. We had to have Dodger, our cat of almost 14 years, euthanized last night. He, like his daddies, was very much a creature of routine, so the hardest thing about the next few days will be breaking those routines: not having to step gingerly when I get up in the middle of the night for fear of stepping on the cat who would always be curled up right outside the bedroom door; not coming home every afternoon to a cat who would greet me with a quick rub against the leg, then direct me firmly over to the kitchen to get his daily treats; not worrying about whether the unthinking twitching of my feet while watching TV would signal "game time" to him and have him pounce on me, claws out, to draw blood right through my socks.

I think cat people and dog people generally want different things from their pets. Everyone knows a good dog does things like play catch and fetch slippers and slobber their affection all over you, though I've never had a dog so I don't know for sure. But a good cat is different from a good dog, and probably different from person to person. Dodger did not show affection promiscuously, but that made it all the more special when he did. He was not typically a lap cat, but if the conditions were right (a chilly fall evening, Don had his jeans on, the moon was in the seventh house), he loved curling up on Don's lap or leg for a long snooze.

He liked being around us, so most evenings, he was in the living room watching TV with us, and upon retiring, he would start the night curled up in bed at my feet, but he was also independent--he never stayed in bed much past midnight, as though he had more fun things to do downstairs, and he'd go through spells when he spent more time upstairs in a closet or in the basement on a pile of towels than with us.

When I was teaching and would be home in the afternoon, he would frequenly curl up at my feet on the couch while I was napping. I will always treasure the handful of times when I'd be lying on my back reading and he would jump up on the couch, and stretch out full length on my chest and stomach, facing me with his "purring face" on, the closest thing to a real cat smile I've ever seen (except for two weeks when he was a kitten, Dodger never purred, but he frequently had a contented "purring" face). I'd have to put the book down, of course, to accomodate my little visitor, but then we'd both have a nice long nap together.

He became a pest at dinnertime, begging at the table for anything creamy or saucy (of course, that was our fault for letting that habit develop), and he was a regular visitor up at the computer desk in the study. During his last 3 years when his health was in decline (diabetes and asthma), I could tell how good he was feeling if he could make the leap up to the desk to visit. With the onset of his diabetes, he quit making the jump for a couple of months, but he soon felt well enough to once again be a pest at the computer, right up until just this last weekend. I can't imagine not having a cat in my life, and I'm sure we'll adopt another one eventually, but not right away. Dodger was indeed a good cat and will be missed.

1 comment:

  1. Boy Mike (and Don), I can relate to the issue of the hardest part being the change in routine. I still, almost a year after Lucy's death, think I see her out of the corner of my eye in some of her usual old spots.

    I was very honored that Dodger deigned to let me pet him in recent years. He was, indeed, a very good cat--and also a very much-loved and well-taken-care-of one...for which he showed his gratitude with his purring face, desk trips, and cat smiles. That's a good cat, all right.