Pets, no matter what they are; dogs, cats, gerbils, parrots, hamsters, fish, etc. are a significant part of our lives. Unlike family members, we choose them; or at least it seems that way. My own belief is that they choose us.
When I was living in Texas, my beloved female cat, Billie became too old and too sick to live a good life. I knew that she was suffering, and I knew what I had to do. She had been a tough old gal, but enough was enough.
The worst part of taking your beloved pet to the vet for the last time is that there are memories all over the house and in your heart. You think that you will never get over the pain of loss, and you swear that you will never ever fall in love with a pet again.
But there comes a day when you feel like going to an animal shelter. You can tell yourself that you are “just looking.” What you don’t realize at the time is that the animals are looking at you.
So there I was, in the San Antonio Animal Shelter, walking through the cat rooms. I saw a lot of nice cats, happy cats, crazy cats, sleeping cats and so on. I walked into another cat room where there were lots of perches and transoms for the cats to enjoy.
As I was looking around, I felt something bump my head. Startled, I looked up and saw a beautiful all-black cat sitting on a perch above me. She had gently head-butted me as if to say, “Hey! Look at me!”
I did, and I fell instantly and hopelessly in love. Blackie had lived at this shelter for four years. When I asked why she had been there so long, one of the volunteers said, “well, it’s because of her looks.” It was then that I noticed that Blackie had extra long incisors, and a crumpled ear. I thought she was beautiful.
She had a sweetness of spirit that touched my cat-hungry heart to its core. I knew I would adopt her and make up for those four years of being passed over.
Blackie and I were pals from the start. I took her home and bought her toys, treats, a soft bed and the best cat food I could find. She slept with me every night, curled up against my right side.
When the Crankee Yankee and I moved back to New Hampshire, Blackie of course traveled with us. When we moved into our house in Exeter, Blackie made herself at home.
Blackie was with us until she was 20 years old. By this time she was nearly blind, and had to be kept in our office where she couldn’t fall and hurt herself. I slept in there with her to keep her company.
When the time came to let her go, our vet came to our house to put her to sleep. Although it broke my heart, Blackie let me know that she was ready to go. I held her in my arms and whispered all my love for her in her ears and she slowly and peacefully went on to where all good and sweet pets go.
My vet once told me that the reason our pets die before we do is because they are smarter than us. They know all they need to know in their life spans, and they know when it’s time to go. But they never really leave us; each cat I have loved and lost are deeply and forever nestled in my heart.
And do you know what? Those clever little buggers let us know from the Great Pet Beyond that there is a special pet waiting for us. They know when it’s time for us to engage again, and give a deserving pet a home, love, security and family. Don’t doubt for a moment that they can make this happen. They know what we need and when we need it. It is their gift to us so that we may again have another pet (or pets) to love.