Friday, December 3, 2010
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.