Obituary for a Cat

11 Nov

I do not usually read the obituary column. I haven’t lived in the same town for most of my life and don’t know the people who are listed there. Stuffed between pages of a book somewhere I do have one for a woman I had never met but wished I had. She died at the age of 101 having lived a very full life including dancing in the Ziegfeld Follies. She inspired me.

I have thought about this blog posting for over a year but it is still an extremely hard posting to write. It has taken an additional week for me to write this without too many tears. How do you write an obituary for a cat? Segia was a rather ordinary looking tiger striped cat but she was far from ordinary and she had been a part of my life for 16 1/2 years. She really wasn’t my cat for all of those years. She joined our household when my oldest son moved back home for a short while. She followed him, slept with him and only talked to me when she was not happy about the contents of the shared cat food bowl and she learned to be a real talker. My cat at that time was named Agatha but my sons called her Nag-atha. Segia discovered that talking was a good way to get what she wanted but she kept her distance from that strange woman who took her to the vet.

When my son moved out, Segia stayed. She decided that she needed to have another boy to raise and adopted my younger son. He has very broad shoulders so that became her favorite perch. She would groom the back of his neck and made certain that he was always clean behind his ears. They spent hours playing a game with his baseball hat. She didn’t think he wore it right but he thought he did. A neighbor thought the boy wore a fur collar before realizing it was the cat. She would watch for him whenever he went out. I honestly think she worried about him while he was at school and ran to greet him when he came home.

Years past and the boy finished school, got a job and his first apartment. I paid the extra deposit so Segia could go with him but as much as she loved him, she was not a good apartment cat. When he left for work, he had drawn all of the shades. She did not have a window sill where she could watch for him to return. She tried desperately to get out. He brought her back with a worry that he would have to replace the carpet that she tore up at the door. He is still in that apartment so he really didn’t need to worry.

Back home she looked around for a boy to raise and discovered my husband. She tried to groom his neck as she sat on the back of his recliner. He objected. She never really gave it up but settled for a quick lick once a day to remind him that he really needed her services. She settled for following him and “helping” him with any task he took up. My favorite was the day I heard him swearing from the driveway where he was working on the sunroof in his car. He rarely swore so this was something big. Every time he got the sunroof into the correct position she stepped on it dropping it back down. Next she switched to reaching in to offer him a hand pushing the adjustment support. She gave him steady advice on how to do it until he brought her back into the house and closed the cat door. Once he had finished, he let her out so she could inspect his work. He had claimed to be a dog person but said she was the best dog he ever had.

Their closeness lasted until he had his first stroke. When he came home from the hospital, she gave him a quick sniff but kept her distance. Maybe she realized that this wasn’t something that she could fix by grooming. She decided that she could be apply her mothering skills to me. I had adopted an other cat who only liked me if I was sitting or laying down so Harry and I switched cats. Ralph was happy to sit on Harry’s lap once a day for a brief petting and Segia could follow me around as I packed and worked on the house. Four months later I drove the two of them to our new home. They sang or screamed for the entire 5 hour trip from the Washington coast to Wenatchee, Washington in the center of the state. I couldn’t turn the radio up loud enough to drown them out. When I put them in a bedroom upon arriving, I wasn’t sure I’d ever let them out! Time heals all things including my hearing.

Six years later Ralph had been replaced by Iggy and Segia was happy once again. Although she provided Harry and I with her assistance regularly, she hadn’t had anyone to groom in a long time. Even though Iggy was head and shoulders taller and filled out to be a 20 pound boy, she would hold him down so she could groom his ears. He learned to reciprocate. They spent hours wrapped in each other’s arms. She was one happy cat – she had her boy to groom! Then 18 months ago she started to loss weight fast and I thought we were going to lose her. I told the vet that she was probably 14 years old. He diagnosed a thyroid issue and we started her on a pill once a day. She gained back some weight but was still a little skinny compared to Iggy’s bulk.

Finally it was time to pack for the 2100 mile move from Washington to Texas. Transporting the dog was not an issue but how were we going to transport two cats when one was too frail for sedatives and was known for “singing” in the car? Four days of cat screams would mean I would throw her out the window! We bought a travel trailer. Cat hauler by day (along with stuff we would need for the 1st month) and camper by night. It worked and the cats were both happy to see us when we stopped. We don’t talk about the 2 hour late start when we couldn’t find Iggy to put him into the trailer and then thinking Segia had escaped at the grocery store only to be discovered at the 1st rest area stop. They both settled into life in Texas. Iggy became a great bug hunter and we have lots of bugs for him to hunt. He likes to bring in grasshoppers as presents.

Two months ago Segia started to change her pattern. She spent most of her time sleeping. She dropped more weight and didn’t seem to have the energy to groom Iggy as much. He got in trouble by being a little too rough with her. At night she wanted to snuggle close to me and often crawled under the covers. I was almost afraid to pick her up to set her at her feeding station. She was just skin and bones when I realized she wasn’t 14 but 17 years old. I found a picture of her with my now 17 year old granddaughter as a baby. Granddaughter and Segia were approximately the same age. She had a right to be skin and bones! I continued to check that she was breathing as she slept. Harry had to move her from one side to the other as he made the bed. She dropped more weight and would only eat just a little bit. She wasn’t suffering but she was ready. We were prepared but I can’t say we were ready. She had a good life. She loved and was loved in return. Now she is wrapped in a pink sheet and buried in front of the screen patio where she enjoyed her naps in the swing with or without her people. What more can any cat ask?

Segia and Iggy

Segia and Iggy

Segia in her old age

Segia in her old age

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