Kay Halsey shares the story of a beloved feline who wandered into her yard one day and stayed for decades. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns
By Kay Halsey
When I had children at home we often took our supper out of doors in the lovely backyard where it was cooled by orange and apple trees. My husband would enjoy feeding a stray cat under the table when I wasn’t looking. Cat loved his donations and stayed around. He became my cat.
He could jump from the roof to the ground and run very fast. Other cats stayed away, but Cat found our house his home. Eventually, when my husband had died and my four children had left home, he was my companion.
He was my companion for 25 years. He sat by me, with his rear towards me, guarding me. His tail always lightly touching my leg. He slept in the mornings until I made my breakfast. I would find him sitting in the chair waiting for me to come and eat, hoping I would let him lick my cereal dish.
One morning I missed him. When I went outside I found him lying on some weeds, enjoying the warmth of the sun. His long tan and black hair had turned to white.
Anytime I stopped working and sat down, he joined me. He jumped in my lap, hoping I would scratch his neck.
Cat talked to me – a guttural sound was a Good Morning greeting, a high-to-low growl was notice that he wanted more to eat.
He had been around for 25 years at least. He would ask for food, but smell it and not eat. His body was long and thin. His rear quarter dragged and he’d lost his jumping ability. Inability to swallow and difficulty in movement seem to go with age.
The stress of caring for an old cat was immediate. I tired of seeking out accidental messes, shed fur, fleas, and smells. I myself was having trouble keeping my home clean.
I made an unplanned decision to take him to SEAACA, a facility that humanely disposes of cats. It was reason instead of emotion.
I put him in my arms and put him on the back seat of the car. I registered him with the clerk at SEAACA for $35. I was told to drive to the back of the building and wait my turn in the tent.
I held him in my arms. A man in green gloves came out of the gate and put him in a wire cage. I saw his sad eyes! I knew this was the loss of a wonderful companion so necessary for both of us. A neighbor told me that the clerk gives the animals a shot for termination. This was a sad day in my life.
There are many losses when you grow old and find yourself alone. I am safer and now more active in Tai Chi, fine art painting, and writing for memoirs class.