Friday, December 3, 2010

My BK


When we moved into our house in Vista, California, in 1999, the lady who was selling it left two cats behind. One was black, and one was grey. We already had our orange and white cat named Velcro and our dog. Pepper, so we really didn’t want two more cats. I told this woman, “You can’t just leave them. It’s not like they’re plants. “ But she did. I was able to find someone who would give them a new home, but first I had to catch them. That wasn’t so easy since they lived wild in the backyard, existing on whatever they could catch. As the moving van was being unloaded, I put down some bowls of food to see if I could lure them. I had two cat carriers waiting in the wings.

My husband left on a business trip the day after we moved in, and I was a little nervous to be in this new house on the edge of the woods. That night, around 2 am, I woke up feeling like someone was staring at me. There were two small windows on either side of our bed. I sat up and looked over my shoulder. In the window, sitting on the fence post was the black cat, just watching over me. The next morning, I got up and found the grey cat stretched across the front door mat preventing anyone from coming in the house. I called my husband and told him that the cats were totems and they were staying. We named the black one BK, as in Black Kitty, and the grey one was known as Grey Man.

The house had laundry room and attached office next to the garage, so the two cats lived in there, going outdoors when they chose. I fed them and took care of them, but they still enjoyed hunting in the woods. My husband, who doesn’t really like cats, developed a great affection for the little old curmudgeon, Grey Man. The cat drank out of his cereal bowl each morning and slept curled up next to his computer. When he got too old to hunt, his buddy, BK, would bring him presents of mice and other treats. Sadly, the coyotes caught Grey Man one night. The next night, I climbed up on our roof and coaxed BK to come in the house. He’s been with us ever since.

It was a big battle with Velcro, who always considers himself to be the King. But we learned that when you put two cats in a van with a dog and four people and drive them three thousand miles across the country, they will bond. So, Velcro has been like BK’s evil little brother for many years. BK comforted my mom as her dementia came on, sitting on her lap or sleeping with her in bed. This cat had such a big motor that when he purred, you could hear it all over the house, and he purred a lot. He was such a happy, forgiving, generous guy. He always perched just above my head while I slept, whether it was on the couch for a nap or in my bed above me in the pillows, guarding me. About two years ago, BK developed thyroid disease. As he grew older, he got thinner and lighter. There were more and more trips to the vet. This summer, I was sure he was ready to go, but he rallied again and again. I learned the true meaning of a cat having nine lives.

Four days ago, he suddenly stopped eating. I couldn’t tempt him with baby food or tuna soup, and the vet told me not to give him his medication anymore. For months, I had been asking BK to let me know when it was time. Remarkably, he did. He became very cuddly, spending literally hours sleeping on one lap after another for three days. Yesterday, when I woke up, he wasn’t sitting next to my bed as usual waiting for me to feed him breakfast. I found him curled up in his little cat bed, but he could hardly walk. I held him for over an hour waiting for the animal hospital to open and then, he snuggled in the armchair while I called the vet. Velcro climbed up and settled in next to him. They stayed together that way until my daughter came home from school. We all said our goodbyes, and I held him wrapped in a blanket like a baby, as my husband drove us to the vet. We love the vets at this animal hospital. Everyone in their office cried and hugged us like we were family. They knew BK well, and he passed away peacefully with grace.

We buried BK last night on the hill above the barn next to our grove of cedar trees. I always think of it as the sacred part of our yard. The horses stood with their heads peering out of the stalls. They knew what was going on. I could feel it. The night was clear, and there were a million stars. Our house is very empty. One of my guardian angels is gone but I know that his spirit is watching over me.

17 comments:

billie said...

Oh, dear. I just completely started crying b/c BK looks much like our Moomintroll, who showed up a few years ago at the barn and has basically glued himself to me body and soul. He's older, with some medical issues, and I worry over him just as you did BK, watching him rally and then slip a little.

Sending the biggest hug I can b/c I know how it feels to say goodbye to a beloved feline. (my two beloveds Sergei and Yuri also traveled cross-country with me - to Texas, then to northern CA, then to Hollywood, then back to NC) and it was so hard when they each passed.

Now there are five felines here and I can't imagine them not being. But somehow we live in the present with our animals b/c they are so good at living in the present themselves! It always seems a shock when they tell us it's time.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks Billie - I'm really comforted to know that you understand. Our animals do keep us living in the present, and they teach us so much about coming and going from this world. That's why I frequently stop each day and appreciate them.

Kate said...

It is so hard to lose a loved pet, even at an advanced age - my deepest sympathies to you. We have a big tabby kitty named (very descriptive) Fat Cat with the same sweet personality and big purr you describe.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Oh lordy this post makes me sad, but I'm so glad your BK went peacefully and knew he was loved :)

My 12 year old lab/pit Sweetpea suffers from cushings disease and is on the decline. I know that her time is coming - I can only hope she will let me know...

Mrs Mom said...

I'm so sorry Victoria, for the passing of BK. But you are right- he IS there, watching over you. And he always will be.

Thinking of you.

Grey Horse Matters said...

What a sad time for you and your family. BK was truly a wonderful guardian to you all. It's so hard to say goodbye, but when the time comes there is nothing we can do but honor their wishes. I hope your happy memories of BK will help you overcome your grief at losing this wonderful animal.

Wolfie said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my cat, Cleo, at 16 years of age to the same ailment. I believe BK made his choice and was grateful that you understood and helped him. You have many great memories of him....he is not far from you.... Take care.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, Everyone - I'm having a hard day and your friendship and good thoughts really help.

Lori Skoog said...

What a touching post. You just know when it's time. So sorry for your loss, but he sure had a good life with you. I have had to go through it so many times...it's part of the deal when you have horses, dogs and cats. Every time, it is so sad and emotional...but it was worth every minute we had together. I'm sure is spirit is all around you.

Oak in the Seed said...

There are reasons these tiny souls enter our lives at unexpected and sometimes unwanted moments. I am glad your generous heart welcomed this knock on your door and recognized BK for what he was, and still is...your guardian spirit now waiting at the next door.
May your sweet memories of him soon assuage your grief... You are not alone.

Crystal said...

I am very sorry for your loss. Animals really do understand more than anyone thinks, and they provide us with more love and comfort than many other people. I am glad there are people like you that would adopt strays and love them, for there needs to be many more. It is never easy to lose a pet, for they become our family. You did the best thing you possibly could for Grey Man and BK - gave them a loving home.

Jeanne B. said...

I'm so sorry about your kitty. {{hugs}}

Rising Rainbow said...

BK sounds like a great cat. I am sorry that his time has come. It's always so heartbreaking to loose such friends. You've have a tough time here lately, Victoria, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

FloridaRobot said...

Sorry to hear about BK Victoria.

The unconditional love and friendship of our animal friends makes their passing so difficult. We learn so much from them when we listen and understand their ways. They enrich our lives so much. Your post brought back memories of us saying goodbye to our last cat (kitty). Jim

jme said...

i cried a little reading this. i am so sorry for your loss. cats are such sensitive, intelligent beings and he clearly shared a deep connection with all of you. i'm glad you have so many happy memories to help keep him with you.

we have lately had a wild black cat take up residence on the farm and sit up on the hill behind the barn as if he's watching over it. now when i see him i am sure i will think of your BK watching over you.

Merri said...

That left me in tears. It's so hard to lose such a wonderful companion.
- The Equestrian Vagabond