Sunday, July 6, 2008


We're all touched by grief in various forms and ways, and we all react differently to it, even if it's grief we are anticipating.

This past Friday, one of my cats died. She was a little over nine years old. She'd had a full and happy life. She'd lost some weight over the last month or so, nothing dramatic, but enough to notice a marked difference over time. This past week, she lost more weight, enough to be concerned about. She was still happy, eating, going outside, playing with the dogs and my daughters, just a little more tired.

Friday morning, she seemed to be doing fine. I had the day off for the holiday, and was planning to get some work done around the house. About 8:30 AM, she went out onto the front porch, and laid down. She appeared to just be relaxing, but about 9:00 AM, I noticed that she was breathing very shallowly through her mouth. I went to check on her, and all of the sudden, I just knew she was going to be leaving us soon. Within an hour her pupils had dilated, and she was no longer seeing anything, her breathing had become sporadic, and we knew it was close. She died about 10:00 AM, while being petted, and purring at the attention.

The grief that ensued was horrific. I wept as I tried to console my wife and daughters. I was wracked with sobs as I tried to dig a grave for her. I was caught completely unawares by the depth and ferocity of emotion that I felt for this beloved pet. When she was a kitten, she was fearless, and furry. The way her little ears stuck out of the big fur made her look like a miniature bear, and so she was named "Ursa". As she grew, she became a perfect example of a feline companion. She was equally at home stretched out in a lap, head and legs hanging akimbo, or curled up in bed, under the covers, not all of them though, Ursa liked the spot between the sheets and the comforter. I can remember being shocked into wakefulness by the pain of a fully contented, and clawed, Ursa, kneading my armpit in pleasure.

She was a great hunter, with mice, voles, chipmunks, lizards, the occasional bird, and any number of small bugs to her credit. I especially enjoyed watching her kill scorpions. We don't have the large scorpions in Carolina, but any scorpion is unpleasant. The ones we have here are dark, and an inch or two long when stretched out. Ursa would find one in the house, and begin to "toy" with it. By the time she was done, it would be stretched out flat, and stiff in death, a perfect little chitinous letter 'Y'.

She loved to sit in my lap when I was on the computer, and beg a sip of beer, and then get all sneezey when the carbonation tickled her palate, but she'd always come back for more. Unlike a lot of cats, she listened to me, and always came when I called for her to come back inside so that I might go to bed.

Those are a few of the things I want to remember about this dear, departed companion. I hope she's in a better place now.

Goodbye Ursa....


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