This morning I woke up to a pounding on my door and the sound of my mother crying. She told me that you were dead.
You didn’t pass away gently in your sleep. You were killed, probably by raccoons. It was a violent death, and definitely not one I ever wanted for you – indeed, I had never considered it in my list of possibilities. You weren’t a fighter – sure, you’d gotten into a couple scraps over the years, but it was pretty rare that it went farther than exchanging insults in that particular yowling tone that cats have. I wanted you to slip away in your sleep, curled up in a sunbeam.
I don’t want to think about how you looked this morning when we found you. It’s something that’s going to haunt me, and I couldn’t even bring myself to go closer than five or six feet away. It’s my mother who was brave enough to wrap you in a piece of fabric like a shroud.
Luna, I knew you for almost your entire life. When I started sixth grade, my teacher told us her cat had just had a litter of four kittens, and that if we wanted, we could come see them if we wanted one. I met you at three weeks old, and I loved you on sight. You were this tiny little puffball of white fur with a toothpick of a black tail and little black ears sticking up over those bright blue eyes. I wasn’t a particularly large eleven-year-old, and you fit comfortably into my cupped hands. One of my friends adopted one of your siblings, a high-strung grey creature prone to hiding under beds, and your tabby-like sibling went to another classmate, a boy who followed me around for a week, trying to persuade me to trade you for the tabby. Obviously I refused. Our blue eyes had met and we had bonded. You met me at the school when I came home from a weeklong field trip to Walden West. I have a picture of me hugging you there at the pickup. Poor Luna, you were probably terrified.
The early adjustment was a little bumpy, as you were never good at changes, and this was the biggest of your life. At seven or eight weeks old you were taken from the home and the family you knew and handed to us. I remember that sometimes in those first few weeks, you seemed to have bad dreams. You’d start trembling and whimpering in your sleep, and I found it terribly upsetting.
But you settled in. You played games, you loved catnip and chasing a toy that was some pieces of cardboard attached to a thick wire, so I could make it jump and twirl. In those early days you behaved a bit more like a normal cat, although you were never a lap cat. I have a photo of you sitting on the fabric my mom was trying to run through the sewing machine, with an expression that really says, “Well? What do you want?”
I don’t think we trained you. I think you trained us. We couldn’t get you to keep a collar on, and we never put in a cat door, worrying about other critters getting inside the house. That meant that we were your butlers, opening and closing the doors when you asked. This was particularly irritating on rainy days, as you’d insist on checking ALL the doors to see if it was raining outside all of them. That said, in spite of your aversion to rain and continually-expressed surprise and betrayal whenever the sprinklers went off (every other morning for, like 80% of your life, but you never picked up on the pattern), you had a preference for drinking from puddles, drip lines, and so on. I have a memory of you at about age two, sitting in the middle of a mud puddle and carefully washing your paws, then replacing them in the mud puddle. It took you a while to figure out that you’d already DONE those paws a few times over.
In some ways, we were lucky with you. Yes, you scratched up the furniture, shed everywhere, and generally made a nuisance of yourself at times, but we also never had to worry about you getting on counters, messing with holiday decorations, or hiding deceased prey anywhere. Your idea of hunting, in fact, was to sit in plain view, purring loudly, while the robins laughed their heads off at the very idea. You got hold of a fledgling or two, but you never really knew what to do with them, so you carried them around for a while until we noticed and separated you from your frightened toy.
In fact, over the years, we defended you from a number of adversaries. At the first sign of yowling, we’d all bolt outside with flashlights and shouts to drive off whoever was bullying you. Usually it was a neighbor cat, but occasionally it was something larger. A year or two ago, you spent a few months being harassed by a particularly aggressive scrub jay who had a nest in the trellis above the back door. I am so, so sorry I wasn’t able to protect you this time. That’s the part that hurts most at the moment.
Last month you turned eighteen, and in the past few years you really turned into a cranky old lady cat. Your grooming went downhill, you began refusing to use the litterbox, and one of your ears was permanently crumpled and folded over due to one of those blood vessel things cats can get if they scratch their ears too hard. A month or two ago, we realized that you were showing pretty much all the symptoms of feline dementia, and we started to wonder about your vision and hearing, but you were physically fine, so we just tried to adjust to your new issues. You were old, that’s all.
You were always surprisingly loud. For a cat who really never got above 8lbs (and most of that was fur), you had remarkable volume. Whether purring, washing, or talking, you could be heard all over the house. How did you DO that?
You drove us crazy sometimes, but you were OUR weirdo kitty, and we loved you. I hope wherever you are now you can find your mama and finally get an answer to how a shorthaired grey cat with green eyes managed to have a white and black longhair with blue eyes. We used to call your father the Midnight Marauder – you were the only one of your siblings who looked like that. Two of your siblings were grey, and one was a mixture of tabby and white. All were shorthaired.
I’m glad I took a moment to pet you yesterday. I’m sorry I took to calling you “Whiny” of late.
Luna, Lu, Lunar Object, Lunarsich, Lunatic, Leafbutt –
We miss you. We’re so sorry it ended this way.