the Travelling Cat
He was a scrawny little thing, white raggedy fur, sitting in an orange
crate in a bead shop in a little New England town. He kept staring
at me with his light green eyes, a funny colour, like jade diluted with
milk. I left with two bags of beads and an orange crate full of
The vet declared him unhealthy...a grade three heart murmur...he would
never see his first birthday, never mind survive the flight to Iceland. He
signed the travel certificate, I bought the little guy his own seat
on the plane. He cuddled up in my sweatshirt and stared at me for hours.
An odd cat people would say. When he was big enough to go outside,
he would make the rounds. Door to door he would travel, and sit
and stare. Never meowing, just staring. Like he was reading your mind.
He learned everyone's routines, he knew when to visit, who would give
him a treat or let him in for a nap. He became a snowcat, he grew and
grew till he weighed 18 pounds on his first birthday. A tall cat with
big bones, muscular, strong, leaping from the ground, to the car, to
the roof in a blink of an eye.
"He'll only live a few more years with that murmur,"said the vet. "He'll
just drop one day. Keep him indoors, it will be less stressful for him".
Louis stared at the vet with his funny, spooky eyes, then winked, as
if to say "Yeah, whatever".
Indoors didn't last for long, he ripped out screens, learned how to slide
open the window and turn the door knob. Who needs opposable thumbs. He
would disappear for days, stay out in snowstorms,come in when he felt
like it. He was the king of the snow. When he returned from his adventures,
he would eat a bowl of fish, then sit and stare at me as if he were waiting
for me to entertain him. When he tired of me he would open the window
and go off to visit the neighbours and stare at them.
The last trip to the vets, vaccines, checkup,bad news. His heart
is getting worse. He has a tumour. Let him enjoy his last days, let him
make his rounds and visits. We watched him fade away, his appetite
never faultered, he still had that regal stare over us, his subjects. He
grew slower these past few weeks, losing the spring in his step, growing
thinner and thinner despite his good appetite, despite the meals cooked
for him by Rain, and the fancy tinned cat food from Frieda.
He made his rounds on Saturday. Eating and napping at the five houses
he called home. His last visit was to Rain's, roast beef and a sheep
skin cat bed. She called to say he was staying the night. He died Sunday
morning, curled up in his furry bed near the heater. His poor little
heart finally gave out, the traveling cat came to the end of his journey.
He was seventeen years old.
Addendum: I miss my kitty so much, he was such a character. Such a strange
kitty boy, we had to get a new roof 2 years ago and he sat and stared
at the roofers the whole time, like he was supervising them. My other
cats are in a funk. Saturday night when he was at Rain's, my kitties,
her kitties and all the kitties in the neighbourhood sat on her porch
and meowed. She opened the door and let them in. 16 cats paraded in front
of his bed and paused for a moment, as if they were saying good bye to
their king. It was so strange. Now they are all confused and not sure
what to do. He had a lovely funeral. I'm going to make a stone with his
name for his cairn.