Tuesday, 06 October 2009
I Kill the Cats
By Judy Vaughn
I feed the cats. I open the door in the middle of the night to let them out, I open the door in the middle of the night to let them back in. And then, when the day comes when they're too sick to stay, I’m the one who takes them to the vet.
Max The Cat was scraggly and ready to bite the dust when it was his time to go. Scraggly in mind and spirit myself that day, I took him to a vet who promptly told me to forget it. He was a goner. No need to do any tests, she said. This was a dead cat.
Her tone of voice, her manner, made me bristle. How could someone pronounce him dead with so little concern? No, lady, I won’t let you kill my cat. I’ll go elsewhere. So I wrote her a check I knew would bounce and marched back onto the street to the SPCA and a kinder hearted vet.
Gypsy Thomas Vaughn and I also went to the SPCA. It was lunchtime. There was no one on duty to help, so we drove to the beach to say our long goodbye. The motion of the car calmed him. It calmed me, divorcee handling an ailing cat as well as the vicissitudes of daily life.
As for Catherine the Cat, she had already known the joys of motherhood when her time came to die. Her offspring were celebrities. Rock Hudson, the charmer. Doris Day and David Niven, so much alike they seemed like twins, and Spook, the rambunctious all black runt of the litter. - each had handily found a home.
Catherine, however, was not so lucky. When I was not at home one weekend to open and close the door, I returned to find the next door dog had done her in.
Crazy Irving, was suicidal, but that’s another story. When he finally died on the basement floor, I buried him in the back yard at twilight.
Jules – ah, Jules! He smiled on us for such a short time that when he left, we hardly knew him. “Can Jules come out and play?” asked the neighborhood children about the kitten we had found as a coming home present for our daughter after her year of study in France. Alas, Jules was a bon vivant. He left one day and, unlike the folk song cat, never came back.
Art was the last cat to live at this address, a household dedicated to artistic endeavors. He was here ten years and his name, thank you very much, was whatever you wanted it to be – Art Dealer, Graphic Art, Academy of Art, Art Deco, Renaissance Art, Contemporary Art, Black Art, African American Art, Art Tatum, Art Garfunkel, the Art of Gracious Living, Our Father Who Art...
He hid from us the last few days. He slipped on the stairs. He could no longer jump from roof to roof. And when I finally sat in the cab cradling him in my arms, he looked up at me with eyes so sad I could barely respond.
We spoke at length, he and I, about how much happiness he had brought into our house. And as the vet performed last rites, a nurse and I calmed him by continuing the parlor game which had always been part of his persona.
Even in death, we were giving him new names – The Artful Dodger, D’Artagnan, Op Art, Pop Art, Compartment, Cuisinart, Art for Art’s Sake...
[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]