Friday, June 18, 2010
The Cat Who Forgot Where She Lived
There really was no way for anyone but Carol and I and our friends to know how old Müss was, no one could tell by looking at her. You certainly couldn't judge her age by her actions. She was as lively and eccentric at 19 as she had been at 3. Just because she no longer hunted and captured socks, or slept in trees, didn't mean she had settled down to a dignified and sedate old age. No, Müss must have gotten bored, or decided she hadn't done enough with her life. Whatever her reasons, she took to visiting the neighbors with a mind to having a bit of a slumber party at their house.
She would wander off into one of the neighbors' yards and seemly forget to come home. At suppertime, we would have to go walking around calling for her. We'd find her in someone else's yard, or asleep on someone else's porch. She'd be fine for a couple of days and then she would disappear again. At one point, though we looked and looked and called and called, we just weren't able to find her. We suspected that a coyote had gotten her, or a car, but we never really gave up looking for her. After a couple of weeks, though, it seemed likely to us that she was gone for good. She certainly wasn't anywhere we could find her.
For some reason or another, in a conversation with one of the neighbors, the subject of cats came up. This neighbor said that a young cat had just wandered into her house and made herself at home. Upon hearing a description of the cat, we knew it was Müss. Apparently, she had decided she needed a new home, or forgotten that she already had one, and had found our neighbor's house to be a great place to live. We disagreed, of course. We gathered her up, took her home, and closed up the cat door.
She was quite content to be an indoor cat from then on. Eventually she went deaf, so someone had to tap her on the shoulder to get her attention when it was time for breakfast or supper. In her last year she began having occasional convulsions. Whenever she had them and I was with her, I would hold her and tell her that it wasn't time for her to go just yet. She was in her 20th year the day I came home and found her on the floor, cold and stiff. It was the one time I wasn't there to tell her not to go. I put her little body in a shoe box and put the box in the freezer. Then I sat and cried for awhile.
I just couldn't bear the thought of having her little body in the freezer, though, so I called a friend who works for a veterinary hospital and made arrangements to bring Müss's body to her that evening. I had a very hard time talking to my friend as I made the arrangements and it was very hard to drive the 20 miles or so to where the hospital was, the tears made it very difficult to see where I was going. Still, it was better to take her body to a place where it could be properly disposed of, and I felt a bit better after I left the hospital and drove back home. It was a difficult evening, but by the next morning I was at least able to talk about her without breaking down.
It's been quite a few years now since we lost Müss. I still miss her, of course.
She is a cat of legend now, climber of telephone poles, mighty sock hunter, sleeper in trees, adventuress. Her adventures make for wonderful stories that we can tell to our fellow cat lovers as we talk about our beloved pets past and present, and, thus, she lives on in our memories and in the stories we tell. I take some comfort in that.