Farewell To My Tuxedo Cat

I sit next to the dying cat. She is over twenty years old—more than a hundred in human years. I met her when she was six weeks old—a little cross-eyed talkative tuxedo cat in the Espanola Animal Shelter.
At first, she wasn’t mine, she was my daughter’s kitten. I was the mistress—in all fashions—of the fat fluffy Mr. Orpheo, adopted at the same time. Mr. Orpheo was a boyfriend of a cat, if you like them more handsome than smart. In actual men I’d passed through that stage briefly as a teenager but Mr. Orpheo re-awakened my ability to love a guy for his looks alone. He had enormous green eyes. A feather duster of a tail. He was also very sweet-natured and affectionate.
But the little black and white female was the smart one. Her name was Felina, but she was known as “Felina The Cat” because the pharmacy listed a medication for her under “Felina The Cat Sagan.” She dominated poor Orpheo, and bit his ears into permanently ragged fringes. He died squarely in middle-age, leaving her as an only cat for seven more years. My daughter moved out. The little cat was mine. Companionable and sociable, she commented on everything. My husband Rich and I laughed when she seemed to chime right in on our conversations with a well-timed “meow.”
Felina got old, creaky, She yowled and wandered about at night. I was tending to aged and dying relatives, a friend in hospice. I probably needed a kitten more than a geriatric cat on Prozac, but I didn’t mind at all. This cat was feisty, and easy to love, to accept.
When Mr. Orpheo died, I was oddly alright. Perhaps I took my cue from him. Also, he was a boyfriend—and boyfriends by their nature come and go. Never one to be a bother, he disappeared in a snowstorm after he was diagnosed and then failing from lymphoma. He vanished completely, into some neighborhood hidey hole, and that was it. Not so Felina. I knew she wouldn’t. Ailing, she preferred to be next to me every minute. When I realized that after years of thyroid disease and failing kidneys she was beyond the power of pills or potions, I sobbed.
She didn’t teach me much of anything, and our only shared interests involved the bathtub and balls of yarn. She could be annoying, and at times I could’t believe I—in this vast world of terrible trouble—was putting so much attention into keeping one cat going. Yet somehow, I was hers, and she was mine.

***
In memory of Felina The Cat, September, 1995-December 3, 2015

12 thoughts on “Farewell To My Tuxedo Cat

  1. So sweet, Miriam! All of us who love animals, understand and are sending you hugs now. Our pets (in our case, our kitties) are so precious. I love your last line: “I was hers and she was mine.” Exactly. So sorry for your loss of Felina the Cat Sagan.

  2. A beautiful and loving eulogy for a pet that was clearly so special and always destined to be yours. Even though she lived such a long life, it’s never easy losing a pet you love. They are family members, after all, aren’t they. I’m so sorry she’s gone, but what wonderful memories she left behind.

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