Thursday, May 31, 2012

Saying goodbye to a beloved pet

There’s an echoing cry reverberating through my house.

The fact that I live alone is an interesting footnote.

Two weeks ago, I lost a cat that I adopted more than 15 years ago.

Rumor stalks my mom's garden.
If you asked my co-workers, they would say the sight of me in tears was something that was more than an abnormality. It was a downright rarity. The only thing that makes me cry is ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘E.T.’

In the time since he’s passed, though, I’ve found myself crying over Rumor more than I can imagine possible.

Most people think I named Rumor after my job. You know, “I heard a rumor.”

Rumor was actually named after one of the Moor Cats in the Terry Brooks Shannara series. I adopted him the day before I moved from my college house down to southeastern Michigan.

Rumor liked to sleep under blankets in front of the heater.
He was a one-pound wonder I adopted from the Mount Pleasant pound.  I still remember his paw reaching out from the cage to make contact with me.

It was literally love at first sight.

About a year after adopting Rumor, I got him a brother. Whisper was named after the other Moor Cat in the Shannara series.

Sadly, Whisper only lived a couple of years. He survived an apartment fire, only to fall victim to undiagnosed feline diabetes.

What was interesting about Whisper is that he was never really my cat.

He didn’t want to be petted, nor cuddled. It was kind of like Rumor was my cat and Whisper was Rumor’s cat.

Rumor and Arwen
They cuddled and cleaned each other for hours each day.

When Whisper died, Rumor was lost. I decided to adopt another cat.

Obiwan is a jet black monster – who I affectionately refer to as the black menace – who is probably smarter than any cat I’ve ever met.

Obiwan can open the attic door and close kitchen cabinets. He’s also got Pica for cats – meaning he’ll eat just about anything.

Obiwan is a congenial cat that tries to fly out the back door to hunt bugs and rabbits any chance he gets. He’s exhausting.

He was a good match for Rumor, though.

Unlike Whisper, Obiwan didn’t want to cuddle with Rumor. He did want to wrestle with him, though.

The duo survived yet another apartment fire together when Obiwan was still a kitten.

Rumor and Obiwan wrestle about a month before he died.
When I finally bought my own house, I found Arwen. She’s a long-haired calico that was an impulse buy in Roseville. She’s beautiful, but stupid.

When she came into the house, the balance shifted. Rumor was still in control, but Arwen was his new cat. He still played with Obiwan – but he slept with Arwen.

Still, when it came time to playing, Rumor and Obiwan always searched for each other. You could hear them actually call for each other. It was a distinctive cry.

 When Rumor got sick, he dropped like a rock. When I loaded him in his carrier to take to the veterinarian, Arwen tried to climb in the carrier with him. She was used to him comforting her.

Obiwan was standoffish, though.

When I came back with the empty carrier, though, things changed.

Obiwan not only spent three nights sleeping in the carrier – which I haphazardly dropped on the floor in the laundry room – but I could hear him constantly calling for Rumor.

Rumor and Arwen
Arwen, however, didn’t seem to remember Rumor. She wanted more attention than normal, but Rumor was a distant memory.

Obiwan is still struggling, though. He opens the door to the attic daily. When he gets up there, he’s obviously searching for something.

So am I.

I now you’re not supposed to have favorites with kids or pets – but Rumor was my favorite.

Not only did he cuddle up next to me every night – with his head on the pillow and snores that drowned out the bedside fan – but he also liked to be carried around like an infant. He also would actually wrap his arms around me when I picked him up and hug me – head on neck and purring.

Pretending that Rumor was a nice cat would be an overt lie, though. He wasn't. He only liked me -- howling at anyone else that came in the house. He especially hated my mother -- so much so that when he even heard her voice on the phone he'd let his disdain be known.

Yet, with me, he couldn't have been more lovable.

Two weeks after the fact, I can’t decide who misses him more.
Sure, Rumor was like a child to me – but he was Obiwan’s best friend.

Right now, we’re trying to muddle through. At least we’re doing it together.

Grief isn’t something reserved for people, though.

Grief is universal. Animals and people feel it together.

That has never been more clear than watching Obiwan continue to search through the house for his best friend -- and settle on letting me pet him for a few minutes before he picks up the search again.


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November 11, 2014 at 8:44 PM 

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