I have been preparing for this day for a long time. “My” kitty, Roo, is 18 years old. I know it’s time. I know we’ve been on borrowed time. And I know what I need to do. But it’s ok (I tell myself). He needs to go be with his Rose.
When my Parker doggy died in 2007, I was heartbroken. I didn’t want another dog if I couldn’t have Parker, so I thought I’d just be by myself for a while. A couple of days after he left me, I noticed as I got in my car that I didn’t have my phone. I went back into the house, and said, “It’s just me…..” and I realized ….. I was speaking ….. to no one.
I thought that day that perhaps I did need another four-legged family member, not a dog, but maybe a cat. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my friend, Tonya, the animal whisperer, and she was very happy to encourage me. She smiled with a bit of delight, and said, “Wanna visit the shelter? It’s still opennnn......” I should have known better, but I agreed.
Fast forward to meeting one of the original grumpy cats. He didn’t want to snuggle. He didn’t even want to come out of his cage. He was nine years old, kind of an old fart, but there was a sweetness that drew me to him, and I had a feeling most people wouldn’t even notice him. Most people, I figured, would want the cute little, baby kitties. So I went with the least obvious choice, and after visiting again the next day, I told the staff I wanted to adopt Roo. I could hear the collective sigh of relief as I’m sure they all thought this guy was going to live his days out at the shelter. Nope. I decided we would rescue each other.
As I said, there was something sweet about him. He had been adopted from the shelter at four years old and brought back to the shelter five years later. Don’t even get me started on that. I feel my blood start to boil every time I think about someone doing that to this sweet boy. Who gives a sweet kitty back to the shelter after five years for no legitimate reason?? Well huh, I guess I got myself started, didn’t I?
Ok, taking a breath….I was told he was afraid of men and children. That turned out not to be true. He liked everybody. I suspected he had been locked in a room for a considerable amount of time because he hated closed doors. Seriously, if you felt the need to be bitched out by a cat, just close a door.
So the doors stayed open. And I gave him his space. And we were there for each other. And all was well.
When Dad died in 2012, Mom talked a lot about getting a dog. The idea of companionship was one we liked, but we were worried about all the care a dog would need, and we were afraid she could trip over the dog and fall. As my sister and I were discussing how we might possibly make this work, I had to go on two weeklong trips, and I mentioned that my neighbor would be taking care of Roo. Mom suggested I bring Roo to her, and she would take care of him. So we all thought, “Why not?”
And that begins the love story of Rose and Roo. When Roo and I arrived in Peoria, about 1-1/2 hours from my house (translates as 1-1/2 hours of Roo chewing me out – not a fan of car rides either), I put him down just inside the door, and suddenly I felt like the third wheel. (Cue harp music.) Mom quickly fell in love with Roo, and the grumpy old man fell fast in love with her. I thought at the time that I might not get this cat back. And I was correct.
The next time I was at Mom’s house, it was clear Roo needed to stay there. She was spoiling him rotten, and he was sucking up to her like nothing I’d ever seen. There had always been rules about animals not being on the furniture. Suddenly those rules didn’t exist. Mom first had said she didn’t want him on her bed. Then she said he could be on the bed, but not under the covers. By the time I returned, he was sleeping on the pillow next to her head. He was shameless.
She’d sit at the kitchen table, and he’d come in the kitchen and sit by her chair. That, to her, was the universal sign for “Poor kitty is starving and needs a treat.” I tried to tell her she shouldn’t feed him that much. Have you ever tried to tell a Jewish mother that she shouldn’t feed anyone too much? If so, you’re laughing right now.
The cutest thing, though, was when it was time for bed. In the evening, she would be sitting in her favorite living room chair, and Roo would come out from the bedroom and jump up on the arm of the chair and meow. A lot. And she would look at him and say, “Hi, Roo, is it time for bed?” He would meow, and off they’d go, because Roo had declared it so.
I realized at some point that he was meant to come to me that day in 2007, but only because I was meant to connect him with Mom. He ended up staying with her for 3-1/2 more years. Sometimes I’d whisper to him, “Don’t go anywhere yet. You need to stick around for her” because I couldn’t bear the thought of him going first. She was his constant companion, and he was hers.
So when Mom passed away, I figured Roo wouldn’t be far behind. It’s been a little over four months now, and I know it’s time. I’m really ok with it. I’m not happy about saying goodbye to him, but I do believe his calling was to care for Mom. And he did his job well.
I know he’s going to the rainbow bridge, and I have a feeling a certain great friend of his will be waiting for him. Probably with food. Just guessing.
Have fun, you two.