Obituary for a Small Monster

The cat died on Thursday. Our lives will never be the same. Zeke had controlled our lives as certainly as Grendel controlled the Danes.

Zeke had been with us for just five years. He came to us after 9/11 when his service provider lost his job and apartment and had no place for Zeke anymore. So Zeke refugeed out from his native Brooklyn to a home in the country. Kook came along too and for awhile Kook ran things. He tolerated Zeke but when it came to a showdown, Kook had the upper hand. And, as the Alpha cat, Kook also preempted the more available lap. Zeke made the best of it and settled for me.

Now, I am not a cat person. Cats don’t need people and I don’t need cats. But I was adopted. At the rare times that my lap wasn’t occupied by my laptop, Zeke would move in. Like when I was saying Morning Prayer or eating a meal. Zeke had to learn to accept a good deal of rejection. Often he would come downstairs in the morning and do my exercises with me. My exercises are mostly stretching and cats are good at that.

But do you know how a cat can take over your life? First thing in the morning to last thing at night. If I so much as turned over in bed after about 5 a.m., Zeke would be at the bedroom door yowling – and he had the yowl of a probable Siamese ancestor in his definitely unpedigreed lineage. He was ready for breakfast and wanted to be sure I knew. If I managed to wake up without alerting him, I had a routine for getting glasses, slippers, bathrobe as quietly as possible and sneaking out to the kitchen. He always heard me. Somewhere about 4 p.m. he would begin yowling for supper – which we had scheduled for 5 p.m. We tried to teach him the difference between 4 and 5 but he refused to learn. Last thing at night I would close the bedroom door (thus preventing the heat from the woodstove from warming us), get into bed, and notice that the door to the loft above the bedroom was still open. So – out of bed, up stairs, close door, back down, and into bed again. Not every night but often enough to be annoying. If that door wasn’t closed, Zeke would go up there at 5 a.m. and yowl about his breakfast. Kook more than once had launched himself from there to our bed, eight feet south and eight feet down. Zeke, less aggressive, would threaten to jump but never did. Just yowl.

And, in between, the house itself was catified: cat beds for the comfortable chairs which had to be moved if we happened to want to use them ourselves, an ugly slip cover for the couch to garner cat hairs, a scratch box in one corner to use up energies that might otherwise have been used on rugs and upholstery, a cat dish at one side of the kitchen (two at opposite sides until Kook went to his reward some months ago) and a cat drinking fountain, cat pan(s) in the cellar – which of course, needed to be emptied at regular intervals, creating another bag or two to take to the town dump every few weeks. I had to keep sap buckets under my desk to prevent Zeke or Kook (mostly Kook, to be fair) from finding the open compartments of my desk preferable to the cat pan.

One small cat; what a difference! The last two nights our bedroom has been warmer, I can get up when I want to, I can sit in my own chair without having to remove the cat cover and get up without having to put it back. There’s space on the pantry shelves where the cat food was once stored. I’ve got volumes of space in my desk where I can put all the things that otherwise piled up on top of it. We can go away without having to pay someone to come in daily to feed the cat.

Last but not least, it may well be that the various asthma medications I take daily to enable me to breathe can be reduced or eliminated.

Our lives will never be the same again. Thank goodness! And yet he will be missed. Why, I have been wondering, do we endure the hassle involved in keeping house for a cat? But then, why does God put up with the hassle of providing a place for us?

1 Comment

LibbyFebruary 7th, 2007 at 6:08 am

a lovely obituary, Dad. Thanks.

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