View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mittens (1989-2006)

On Thursday, Mittens joined Hannah and Seamus and the assorted other pets in our backyard.

Mittens was my daughters' cat. We got him for Christmas back in 1989 when I was going through a difficult divorce and custody battle. I wanted to help create some positives in my daughers' lives at that point.

Mittens was one of those positives.

I took the girls to a co-worker's house. The co-worker's cat had had kittens. There were a number of cute kittens. Mittens was not one of them. But the girls picked him.

He was black with white paws (hence, "Mittens"). He was a cranky, irritable cat. He had a loud purr that sounded almost like a motor. He used to sit next to my face in the morning using that purr to wake me up. He hid from strangers. He even developed a bad habit of spraying in the house for a while.

He also got quite fat.

The girls loved him.

I didn't dislike him, but I did not particularly like him at first. I had my own cat, Seamus, whom he tormented at times.

But he liked me. I seem to have that effect on creatures and people with problems.

So as the girls grew and got involved outside the home, and eventually headed off to college, and after Seamus passed on, Mittens claimed me (and my lap) as his.

I called him "Flat Bob" (a play on Fat Slob). Later, as illness took its toll, he became "Old Bone."

He developed infections in his mouth a couple of years ago, and had to have almost all his teeth removed. He was never quite right after that.

We first noticed Mittens was having more serious problems last year. I took him to the vet. He had failing kidneys. The vet said there were some treatments, but they were expensive and probably would have extended his life only a bit more (he was 15 at the time).

We decided to let nature take its course and to only intervene if he was obviously suffering or got too bad.

Mittens gradually lost weight because his body was not processing the food very well. He was doing a poor job of cleaning himself. He missed the litter box.

I fed him twice as much as Scooter, my wife's cat. I gave him extra milk, and even bought some cans of nutritional supplements to help.

We thought he was going to be gone by last Christmas. The girls made a point of saying goodbye before they went off to college. But there he was at Christmas. And Easter. And at the beginning of the summer.

In the last two months or so he was having an increasingly harder time going up stairs, climbing on laps, even walking. He began to lose bladder control. By Thursday, he was wetting himself and leaving puddles, sometimes even lying in puddles. He couldn't clean himself any more.

So I took him to the vets. I held him for several minutes. He was strangely placid. He purred. Not the loud motor purr. Just a quiet purr. A tired purr.

I buried him next to Seamus.

Friday, before I went to work, I stopped by the spot to say hello. I greeted Seamus and Hannah also.

Hey Old Bone.

If I'm lucky enough to get to heaven, I hope I'll have room on my lap for all of them.

And that they will be willing to share me.

Ah, but I do believe in miracles.


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