On January 19, some nine months ago, the best cat in the world died. Had he lived, he would have turned 16 around Easter. The reason I’m getting sentimental now is not because I’d have loved to celebrate many more of his birthdays – actually, I never knew his exact birthday, what with him being some stray farm cat I swapped for a tortoise (I’m serious, I really swapped him for a tortoise) – but simply the fact that he’s somehow still around.
In a most spooky way.
I can still hear him, for one. He had this obnoxious habit of finding an empty place in a house full of people, and to sit there, loudly lamenting his loneliness, until someone got annoyed enough to call him, and then he’d saunter in with the air of a king stooping to mingle with his courtiers.
I can still see him, too. When I leave the house and look back, there’s his shadow behind the window.
And of course I still check my wardrobe for him before closing the door. I always did that. I’d give the whole closet a thorough search, and then, satisfied it was cat free, locked the door. Guess where I’d always find him, hours later, fast asleep.
A while ago, a cartoon was circulating among writers, stating the nine facts behind a great novelist (depending on whether or not I choose to believe my husband when he says that I’ve so far never neglected him, either eight or all nine apply to me. I don’t know if that will ever suffice to make me a great novelist, though). I still have the dog, so the animal part should be covered. The dog, I must admit, plays a really big part. She forces me out of the house when I’d rather be glued to my keyboard. I don’t know how many plot holes I’ve filled during our long walks, how much the simple fact of getting away from the screen and moving my tired body has helped to make the missing pieces fall into place. Quite a few times, I come home with an entire short story in my head or an idea for a book cover.
However, a dog is not a cat. Especially since the one I’m talking about is way too big to sit on my lap while I type.
On January 19, I made a vow never to have a cat again. I didn’t think the best cat in the world could ever be replaced. The bar was too high for any other cat to jump over. I mean, really. Look at him. He could pose as a model for Confused Cats against Feminism.
Times has passed since that vow. Enough time to make me realize that, well, I need to hear a purr now and then. I need something small and soft and furry on my lap. So a few days ago, I took the family to visit a litter of kittens and told the kids to choose one.
They’ll arrive as soon as they’re weaned.