This morning after going out to breakfast my daughter and I went to the pet supply store. It’s mostly a dog supply store but in one corner of the store, one very large corner, it’s filled with a huge variety of cat related items from the practical to the extravagant.
We took our time looking at each item, not just the ones we were looking for. We picked up a new litter box, a new scooper, 3 little penny candy style catnip toys, one of those long twirly ribbon cat teasers, cat treats, a collar, and a wool cat cave.
When we’d had a chance to pull all of our items together and discuss weather a sausage or rainbow arc nip toy might be better than the penny candy toys, and decided between chicken flavored dental treats and catnip flavored dental treats and we were sure we had made the right choices we wandered up to the register and sat our stuff down.
I like this pet supply store. I’ve been there before. It’s where I would go to get… well to get shirts to comfort my elderly man cat.
They started to ring up our purchases and the cashier smiled. The other person who was at the counter working on pricing stickers asked joyfully, “Oh did you get a new kitty?”
I paused. I thought about not answering. I thought about not being honest.
“No, one of our cats died and our survivor is sad.”
The look on her face was pained and embarrassed. She made an assumption and it was jus wrong. She asked if our cats had been bonded and I said yes without hesitation. They’d been together his entire life. They hated each other. They loved each other.
She joked that if one of her three cats died the other two would just go on like everything was normal. I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t know if I hope it is or if I hope it isn’t.
But I do know there was something delightful and liberating for both me and my daughter about saying it out loud. About shocking someone with the unexpected. I felt a little bit wicked and a little bit healed.
Two weeks ago today Ripper, my darling sweet old man cat died in my arms at 5:30 in the morning. I’d been holding him for more than an hour. His paws were tangled up in my hair, his nose nuzzled into it breathing in the scent. He was wrapped in his favorite blanket, nestled in my arms while I rested on the couch knowing it was the end.
I’ve had many cats, and just like people it is hard to compare them. But Ripper was my cat and I was his person.