This was Leo.
Last week he died after being an important part of our household for about 12 years, death being an inevitable event for cats, dogs, &etc. And for humans.
Inevitable, yes. So we knew it was going to happen. That doesn’t mean we grieve any less. In fact, because a cat is a small helpless creature dependent on us humans for its upkeep (dependent in this respect not unlike a small human baby) we tend to grieve more than we would for an elderly person expected to die at any moment. I remember the extent of my grieving when my father and then – soon after – my mother died, and I believe I am now grieving more for Leo than I did for them.
Of course, a lot of the grieving I did for my parents, was done over the years prior to the event, as they progressively lost their physical and mental abilities. So, when their final moments arrived, I had done a lot of the grieving already. Leo, on the other hand, gave us less than a week’s warning. He was lucky, I suppose, to be able to shed his mortal coil, so effortlessly and painlessly.
So, what sort of a cat was Leo?
Well, he was not a lap cat. I have a photo of him, not published here, with me trying to keep him on my lap and he not wanting to oblige. In this photo, I am almost overbalancing on my chair, while he – with a cross look on his face – struggles to get down.
Leo showed his affection in other ways. He loved going for walks with my human partner, Janet. And he loved lying in wait for us when we drove to town to get provisions, or when we went out to the local Ko-Op for an evening meal. On such occasions he would greet us with massive and evident enthusiasm. And with a cheery cat-grin.
He was intelligent, more so than a lot of humans I know. He understood a lot of English commands (and some Russian) and many other words that were not actual commands. I often wondered what he might have said if he could have talked back.
In his heyday, he was a great mouser. No mice or rats dared breach his territory. I wonder if, now he is gone, rodents will venture back.
Unfortunately, we could not train him to disregard the native wildlife. He killed quite a few lovely birds, and brought back baby goannas – alive – in his mouth to show us. He had an altercation with an adult goanna once. Once only. He bore the scar to prove it from that day on.
There have been three cats in my life since I first took up with Janet. First there was Benedict (a.k.a. Benny of course). Then there was Moses. And, most recently, Leo. Now they have, all three, gone to God. I grieved for each of them.
You have, presumably, suffered similar heartache because a beloved pet died. It is part of life if you have pets. So you will understand my distress. And, in turn, I shall understand yours.