Sunday morning, a sweet little calico cat showed up in my driveway. She is thin as a rail and sweeter than syrup. I fed her (it’s what I do- feed animals), and now she’s decided to live on my porch. Adicus and Scooter have tried to run her off twice now (although I didn’t see Scooter yesterday, and it probably just means that a barn cat next door is in heat, but I’m gun-shy at this point), to no avail. She is nothing if not determined.

Yesterday I got home from work and she was sunning herself in my chair. Adicus, having figured out how to sneak out of my bedroom window (with a dresser in front of it, ya’ll!) like an oppressed teenager, came onto the porch with me. He walked up to the new cat, sniffed her as she hissed, and then licked her gently but thoroughly. She sat there, annoyed but accepting.

Damn. The dog’s on her side now.

Ivan and Lewis are still not sure they’re putting up with this coup, and she’s not set foot in the house, despite my leaving the front door open when I’m home, because one of the two of them sits sentry on the couch. What they would do if she crossed the threshold, I’m not sure, but she’s not decided to find out yet.

Where do I stand? She’s a sweet, sweet cat. No cat will ever replace Gizzy, and he and I shared a special bond that isn’t quite there with the others, as much as I love them. She has the potential for that bond, maybe.

But I’m not ready.

Sure, I like getting to know her better. Letting her sit in my lap, rubbing the back of her head. I don’t mind feeding her and letting her sleep on the porch. As far as anything else, it just seems too soon. Too easy. Like using new love to heal the wounds of lost love. I don’t trust her. I don’t trust her to stick around, not to get sick and die, not to leave me. I’m not sure it’s what’s best for the other animals, who are already dealing with a lot of confusing change and can’t drink vodka and whine to their friends about it like I can.

In the practical sense, I have a male cat that is overdue to be neutered, shots and flea medicine needed all around, and a sizeable bill for Gizzy’s hospital stay (though I will be talking to the vet this week about the shitty ROI on that one). It feels irresponsible to take on another animal when the ones I have are not being cared for to the standard I’ve set for responsible pet ownership. Also, I worry about the other cats judging me for loving another too soon, or hurting their feelings, because maybe they think they’re not enough for me. (Yes, I realize that I’ve gone off the deep end with that last one!)

How, though, do I resist fate? She came to me, she wants to be here. I like her. I could love her, if I let myself. So, last night I named her Angel and I promised her that by the time that sleeping on the porch is no longer a pleasant prospect, I would be ready to bring her in the house. Maybe by then, I’ll also be ready to bring her into my heart.

Goodbye, My Sweet Orange Boy

I picked Gizzy up from the vet on Friday. They said he was doing well, and compared to what he looked like when I took him in, he seemed much better. He was still weak, and I was told to feed him as much of whatever I could as possible.

So I got him some fresh trout, and he would eat a few pieces and lumber off under the couch for a nap. He was not the same cat- he couldn’t jump up or down, and he didn’t follow me around the house and the yard, though if it seemed I was pretty stationary, he would settle in the room I was in.

Sunday morning, he was chipper and chatty and he ate more trout at one time than I had been able to get him to eat before.

Sunday afternoon, he was so sick and weak that I knew he wouldn’t survive the trip to the vet. I sent the ex a text, and waited with Gizzy while he made the trip from his new place to live to my house. I stroked his head, buried my face in his soft fur, told him how much I loved him, what a great cat he was. I laid on the floor with him, cried and sobbed, and begged him not to leave me.

By the time the ex came in, I don’t think he even knew who we were anymore. The ex took care of everything, did the hardest thing you can do for an animal you love, and took care of me.

We buried him in an out of the way spot in the backyard, and the ex cut some of my orange sunflowers to lay on his grave.

Gizzy, my marmalade monster. I miss you so much. I remember all ten years of your lovely little life as if it were a book, or a movie. The day that you came home. When you wet the bed. The time that you thought my sister was hurting her cat, and promptly bit her. The time you got yourself into trouble climbing trees, and my sister brought you down off the limb. Watching you whip the dog into shape. Chasing you away from my chicken and fish when I cut them up on the kitchen counters.

You were always there for me. Right by my side. I’m sorry I used to get irritated with you when you would give me love bites on my calves while I was peeing. I’m sorry, too, if there was anything more I could have done for you. I don’t think that there was, but the possibility breaks my heart into even smaller pieces, if that is possible.

Scooter, Ivan, Magoo and Adicus all miss you. They looked for you last night, and when they couldn’t find you, they came and laid on the couch with me. It was wonderful, but it was so hard to know that you won’t curl up next to me on the couch and put your sweet little paw on my leg anymore.

I love you. Thank you for being such a wonder and a comfort to me. I hope that I brought you some comfort and love in that last hour. I also hope that the memory of you in your last breaths, and the ugly awful way that your life ended fades quickly, and when I close my eyes and dream at night, I see you in your glory and not as life was leaving you. Goodbye, my darling. You were the best cat friend a girl could ever want.

Marmalade Monster

Back in 1999, the ex brought home a little orange tabby kitten, just weaned, from the woodpile behind the warehouse he worked in. We named him Gizzy, and he named himself Monster.

This cat. He’s everything that is good and right about the world. He doesn’t care for anyone but me. Tolerates the ex, but not really anyone else. His fur smells like stuffed animals. He curls up against my chest while I sleep. Anywhere I go, he follows. To the mailbox. To the garden. Through the house. When I’m sleeping and he’s hungry, he bites my cheeks and runs his claws through my hair. He loves peanuts, and he would love chocolate if I would let him have it.

For the past ten years, he’s always been there for me. When I’m upset, he’s in my lap, laying on top of my chest, curled up in my arms like an overgrown baby doll. When I’m sick, he sleeps above my head on my pillow. He licks the tears off of my cheeks and lays on the edge of the tub when I take a bath.

Yesterday he got sick and I had to take him to the vet, and they had to keep him. He was severely dehydrated and his white blood cell count is 35,000, which is about as high as it gets. They don’t know what’s wrong with him. They do know that he can’t come home tonight. His bloodwork shows normal organ function, but he’s still not stable enough to leave and it’s too soon to check his count again, as he’s only had antibiotics and fluids for eighteen hours or so.

You have to get better, my sweet orange boy, my marmalade monster. You have to.