Thursday, December 22, 2022

Goodbye Sweetest Kitty Boy


Sixteen and a half years ago, Matt and I, still early in our relationship, received a call from my cousin that her mom's friend had found a litter of kittens. There were two left and they were looking for someone to adopt them so they didn't have to be taken to a shelter. A few hours later we had two kittens running around our new apartment (we had also just moved in together). They've been there for every part of our lives the last sixteen years: all of the changes, all of the good times, and the bad. In March, we said goodbye to Sophia. December 10th we said goodbye to her brother, Doc.

Doc was our sweet kitty boy, as I called him. He was snuggly, loving, tolerant of the kids, and would always aggressively meow to be fed each morning. He slept on our legs each night, purring randomly as we all slept. I knew his remaining time with us was short as the fall grew on. I took us to the ARL that weekend in November not to replace him or his sister, but to fill the void they would leave. I knew it was going to be rough on all of us and I hoped a few kittens running around would help. And it did, it has. However, that wasn't the highlight.

The highlight was watching Doc transform into a kitten again in his final days. In his younger years, Doc never would have accepted us bringing new pets into our home. Heck, he didn't love Zeus when we brought him home! That was two and half years ago and a steady decline, meant Doc could really not give a shit what was happening around him as long as he was fed and his spot on the bed clear. But those final days of his did my heart good. He played, he was curious. His slow footsteps pepped up a bit as he took interest in the kittens. He quickly showed the kittens how to beg for food and how to do an aggressive meow so food appears immediately, which the male kitten picked up instantly and continues Doc's morning meow legacy. When we made the decision that Friday night to take Doc in the next day, we cried, we snuggled, and we remembered his kitten years.

My favorite stories are ones of mischievous adventure. When we first brought Doc and Sophia into our home, they were confined to the half bath at night and when we were away. We thought this would be the perfect, safe space for them. They proved us wrong by pulling out the vanity drawer, getting into the vanity, and locking us out of the bathroom. We had to take the door off of its hinges to get to them. They climbed curtains, screens, and furniture, jumped at the ceiling fan when it was on, made making the bed impossible as they launched themselves at the blankets, and sounded like a herd of elephants when they played. Sophia got stuck in a wall TWICE. She also fell through our garage ceiling after sneaking into the crawl space behind us. Doc had a three month stint where he insisted on being an outside cat. He got locked in someone's shed or garage for three whole days (we think, he couldn't tell us) and came home meowing, acting as if nothing had happened. Two days later he caught a squirrel and attempted to bring it into the house. To me. As if it were a gift. He puffed out his chest as he carried the squealing squirrel directly at me. I screamed and the look on Doc's face shifted to one of, "ope, I'm in trouble," and he quickly diverted his route, standing in the driveway. He took it one step further by killing the front of our youngest and a group of daycare kids. I was traumatized that day, but looking back, it's hilarious. He was quickly made to be an inside cat once again. Our windows were nearly broken so many times as both he and his sister attempted to "catch" the birds outside from inside. Our couch cushions were always smashed down from Doc and Sophia laying in the sun, on top of them.

New pets never replace the old ones, but it has made this transition easier. I still find myself reaching down to my legs to pet Doc at night, only to find it empty. I've called for him a handful of times and one morning I grew worried he wasn't at my feet the moment I stepped out of bed. It was sixteen and a half years with these two and I wouldn't have traded it for anything.