Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Life With Cats

My first cat love was Butterscotch, he was an outdoor cat we had for several years when I was in my early teens (he had to live outside because my brother was deathly allergic).  Sadly, he was hit by a car in either 1978 or 1979, and after that, it was a long time before I had another cat in my life.  Here's a picture of him, back in the day:

It occurs to me I haven't lived without a cat for a grand total of 20 years now, since 1990. I was sharing an apartment with my friend Barb at the time and probably would have continued to do so indefinitely except I had a powerful urge to get a cat and she was allergic.  I rented a place on my own and in November of that year, I adopted Murphy.  I named her after Candice Bergen's character on Murphy Brown, which was a hit TV show at the time, because she had an "M" on her forehead.  She was a stray who had been fostering with a woman who worked in my office after giving birth to kittens.  Homes were found for the kittens easily enough but they needed someone to take the mother cat and after I saw how pretty she was in her photo, I couldn't say no.  Here's a picture of Murphy cuddling up with my dad, circa 1998:

In May of 1992, I adopted Carly, who was an adorable little kitten that my sister saw on TV as part of an adoption drive being sponsored by one of the local television shows.  Carly had been featured on the early morning newscast and my sister called to tell me I should adopt her because she looked just like Murphy, who I was thinking needed a playmate.  They never really became what I would call friends for each other but they did get along reasonably well, although Murphy was very much the boss, keeping Carly in her place with a paw on the head as required and grooming her as necessary.  Here's one of my favourite pictures of Carly, it always makes me smile to remember how she liked to sleep on my shoes for some strange reason:

Shortly after Murphy passed away in 1999, I adopted Max, thinking Carly needed company.  As it turned out, she barely tolerated his existence for the next 10 years, she didn't ever want much to do with him and tended to hiss and spit at him if he got too close, which always seemed to disappoint him as he definitely wanted to play. Here's a rare photo of my mom letting Max cuddle up to her, she's not a cat person but Max was too friendly to resist:

For the past twenty months since Carly's passing, it has just been me and Max.  And now, it's just me.

Butterscotch was a stray and the next three of my darling cats were adopted from the Toronto Humane Society.  The first two were also strays - although who could abandon a mother with 3 kittens and/or an actual kitten, I cannot imagine - and Max was a "surrendered" cat.  All these years, I've wondered who could have possibly voluntarily surrendered such a lovely cat as he was but I've always been very grateful that they did, enabling us to be together.

A special thank you to Zoe Nelson, who included in her comment on Thursday's post, a link to her blog entry about a cat who came to visit a week after she lost her companion Cinder (Zoe's story). What a lovely thing to happen and it seems Lola has stayed on to keep Zoe company.  It's a nice story and it gives me hope in this sad and lonely time that some day a new cat or two will find its/their way into my life too.  So far, I'm pretty sure I don't like life without a cat.


Lulu said...

Oh, dear Cynthia. I'm so sorry about Max. I know that losing a pet can feel exactly like losing a human friend or family member. You had a relationship with Max that comes from love and life together. The void is so very painful. I am gently holding you and Max in my heart.
Love, Doriot

Christine Ritchey said...

Cynthia, you don't know me and I don't know you, but I know the heartache of losing a furry family member. I'm so sorry for your loss. In my case, it's always been dogs, but the hurt is still the same. I carry many beloved dogs in my heart as I know you carry your kitties. Be kind to yourself, add Max to your heart with your other loved ones and wait for the pain to lessen, as it always does.

I know that the joy that Max brought you and the love you shared far outweighs the loss you feel now. I know you wouldn't want to have missed having Max in your life, even knowing that eventually he would leave you.

Each animal loved and lost is carried in our hearts and our hearts grow larger because of that love. I know eventually your heart will be ready to embrace another furry friend. Until then, please know that I am thinking of you and Max with love.

Christine Ritchey

Zoe Nelson said...

Thanks for the link, Cynthia. I only made it a week without a cat in my life!