Happy TGIF! Today’s excerpt is a bit of a tear-jerker if you have ever had to say good-bye to furry (or feathery, or scaly…) loved ones. As with every ending there is, for the survivors, insight, learning, and promise of a glimpse of what is just beyond the horizon. Happy reading, and have a wonderful weekend!
Tail ) Tale
Chapter 6—Life Six: Life and Death
One day while I was napping under the grapes the most terrible thing happened. The two mean dogs from across the road came into the yard. They would do that sometimes because they liked to play with Mitzie. This particular day though, Mitzie was busy helping Brown Grandpa fix the lawn mower. It was a task that involved all of her concentration—apparently. The mean neighbour dogs could not distract her so they started to wander the yard looking for ways to get Mitzie’s attention. Eventually they found me and decided it would be fun if they roughed me up a little bit. It was so scary! One dog would pick me up in his sharp teeth and shake his head so hard I thought I would explode. Then, he would throw me up in the air for the other mean dog to catch and tear at. I howled and hissed and clawed at those stupid dogs every chance I got. One time I even got a chance to bite a stupid floppy dog ear!
I must have made quite a ruckus because Mitzie stopped helping Grandpa to see what the fuss was about. I have to hand it to Mitzie, most dogs would have joined in the fun—everyone knows dogs are real suckers for peer pressure—but instead she ran back to Grandpa for help. Mitzie may have been a dog on the outside—but on the inside she was a real cat! Once Grandpa pulled the dogs off of me, Mitzie gently took me by the scruff (just like my mom used to) and began to clean me up. I was so freaked out and in pain I didn’t know what to do. Everything started to go black, but then Mitzie started talking to me. I started to hear her tell me to stay awake, and that Brown Grandma was going to make me better.
Mitzie was right about Brown Grandma. She came straight from her garden to pick me up and carry me into the house. Gently, she and Grandpa inspected and treated all of my battle injuries. Mitzie sat nearby and watched carefully. Sometimes she would whine and nudge Grandpa just to hear him tell her I was okay. Brown Grandma and Grandpa would not let me play outside while I recovered from my injuries. Brown Grandma even served me breakfast in bed for the first few days. I would have been really bored and lonely during my recovery if it weren’t for Mitzie. She came to visit me every day—she even insisted on giving me one of her slobbery kisses the first day she visited me. I am not a big fan of slobbery kisses, but I made an exception for the dog who saved my life. I finally began to realize why Grandpa liked Mitzie so much!
So how many lives is that? Santa’s, Pretty Lady and Little Boy’s with red hair, cat shelter, Pretty Lady’s—part 2, Brown Grandma’s—that makes five, I think. That would make life after the dog attack life number six. I didn’t go outside much for the rest of that summer. I wasn’t scared or anything—it just took me a while to recover from all of my injuries. My encounter with the dogs got everyone’s attention. Cleo and Monty also stayed indoors for the first few days after my attack. Auntie was very upset and just to make sure I would be safe next time I went outside, she talked to the owners of those stupid dogs and made it very clear that she would call the dog catcher if they were ever seen in our yard again.
Time passed and I recovered from my wounds, but I never could enjoy playing outside like I used to. I guess I kinda grew up. I wasn’t the only one who grew up. My boys, weren’t little any more–both were nearly as tall as Grandpa!! Now, when they came over, they were helping Grandpa fix the yellow tractor, and helping mow the lawn. They didn’t take a whole lot of time to play any more. Auntie was done with school, and she was working now. I couldn’t tell the difference because she still had homework, except now it seems she was doing something called “marking homework” instead of writing it herself. Cleo still looked like a little kitten, but she was not herself. She got sick a lot, and the only thing she wanted to do was sleep on Auntie’s bed. Eventually, the doctor came and told Auntie what was wrong. Whatever it was, it made Auntie and Grandpa cry. The doctor checked us too. I guess he wanted to see if we were sick like Cleo.
The doctor was a funny little man. He had a wooly face, and a scruffy head of hair. He wasn’t very tall—in fact he was a little bit shorter than Brown Grandma. He wore glasses and he talked a lot. He talked to us, to Auntie, to Brown Grandma and Grandpa, and he talked to himself. He carried a big red tool box. It looked a lot like Grandpa’s tool box except the stuff inside the tool box was very different. The doctor’s tool box had all kinds of scary looking needles, thermometers and medicines. I didn’t mind the doctor too much—at first. In fact when he tried to listen to my lungs and heart, I purred really loudly just to let him know I was not scared. This made the doctor laugh. He laughed and poked my belly and told Brown Grandma that I needed to lose weight. Then he took my temperature. I was not amused by the doctor after that and I yelled at him. Trust me, no cat likes having their temperature taken—especially after being called fat!! The doctor seemed pretty content with both Monty and me. I could tell that Brown Grandma and Grandpa were very relieved. Auntie was too—but she was still very sad about Cleo.
Later that night Monty and I stood outside Auntie’s room while she talked to Cleo. She told Cleo what the doctor said. The doctor couldn’t make Cleo better, and unfortunately, Cleo would just get sicker and sicker. She and Cleo talked about what they should do. Cleo was always very good at talking to Auntie, and Auntie always understood her. Cleo decided that she wanted the doctor to come back and put her to sleep. This decision made Auntie cry a lot, but Cleo just purred. I think Cleo’s decision made Auntie really sad, but Auntie listened to, and respected cats so she supported Cleo’s decision. Eventually, Auntie opened the door and let Monty and me in. Auntie took Mitzie for a walk to tell her about Cleo’s decision, and Cleo talked to Monty and me privately.
I don’t know what she told Monty—that is something Monty never shared with me. She and Monty were very close—practically soul mates. Cleo and I, however, were never close, but we did have our moments. I did admire her for her climbing abilities, and she was pretty clever as far as cute cats go. I asked her if she was scared and she said she wasn’t. She knew that her time with Auntie was nearing its end. Then, she told me something I would never forget. She explained to me that there are two types of cats. There are those cats who love children, and are best and happiest when they are in a home with children—they are called Kids’ Cats. Kids’ Cats love playing with kids, and they are tough enough to endure all the games of make-believe that children play. These cats grow up with their children and pass on gracefully as their kids grow on into adults. Then, there are those cats who, while they don’t mind children, they are best with teenagers and adults. They love a home where they are the children, and all the toys are cat toys. These cats are called Furry Children. They love nothing more than listening to adults talk about their day. Furry Children have time to pursue their own interests (like climbing trees), because they don’t need to play with the adults all the time.
Cleo looked me in the eye and said that I was a Kids’ Cat, and that she and Monty were Furry Children. She told me that Monty had agreed to hang on long enough to see Auntie move out on her own, but that he too would soon be going. She told me that while we may have nine lives, they all come by us quickly and that I should think about maybe finding myself a home with children because that is my true calling. Like I said, Cleo was remarkably clever for a cute cat.
When the day came to say our last good-bye to Cleo, everyone–especially Monty, Auntie, and Grandpa–were so very sad. They all missed Cleo very much. I am not sure who missed her most Auntie or Monty. Grandpa loved us all so much, and it made him sad to say good-bye to any of us. As you can imagine, I couldn’t talk to them about what Cleo said to me. I just couldn’t tell them about my plans to find a home with kids because there never seemed to be a good time to do so. I could talk to Brown Grandma though. She was always so sensible, and even when she was sad, she kept her head about her. She knew exactly what I meant when I told her I was a Kids’ Cat, so she set about finding me the kind of home I needed.