Some people might think it very silly to write a tribute to a cat. Cats are selfish animals -- they neither toil nor do they spin. In fact all they do is lay around a lot. Rupert did an awful lot of sleeping. Most of his waking hours were spent eating and sleeping. He also did a lot of hunting and I hated that part of him -- the part that brought dead mice or birds or even baby bunnies and laid them on our doorstep.
I wonder about God's thoughts as He created animals. They reflect such a variety of moods and imagination. He made such a huge number of species, colors, textures, feeding habits and habitat. Many have nobility and grace, all have personality. The wild ones intrigue us and domestic animals are friends.
Life is such a roller coaster. There is so little of what I would call, "normalcy". The older I am, the more shocked I am by the death of friends, fiendish acts of terrorism, and other crimes and cruelties that rock our little planet every day.
They say a man's home is his castle, and it extends to women and children too. Our home is our nest, our cave, our comfort. The members of our family and our house and belongings give us a sense of safe haven -- we can be ourselves at home. We can scratch and burp or worse without looking around wondering what societal gaff we've committed.
In my role as mommy, I spend a lot of time delivering folded laundry to bedrooms and prowling around the house trying to maintain order. Glancing into a bedroom I often saw Rupert lying on someone's bed, his head on the pillow, his peaceful face utterly relaxed, his slightly wheezing breathing keeping a beat. The sight of him always brought a smile. Frequently I buried my face in his warm fur and he would immediately start purring. His calm and responsive personality provided stress relief. He was so utterly guiltless, and since I usually carry twice the guilt of normal people, he helped abate that impulse in me..
He loved to stretch out and have his white belly rubbed -- he liked to climb on a lap for kitty treats. His footsteps were agonizing because he weighed 20lbs. We called him Rupert Orson Marlon Alfred -- middle names after the prominent fat men Orson Wells, Marlon Brando and Alfred Hitchcock. He acquired his gigantic girth from eating only catfood. I never once saw him eating bowls of ice cream or drinking beer. What do they put in that stuff?
There are arguments for and against letting cats roam at night. We let him out because he wanted out, he pounded on the door like a man in jail. In the back of my mind I knew we were gambling, that he might get hit by a car or some other fate. We've only lived in this farm house two months. Hunters let their dogs run loose by the dozens in the woods in our county. Many of them end up being uncared for, skinny and lost, skulking around homes looking for food.
When we got up yesterday our garbage cans were knocked over and the trash was strewn on the ground. We also couldn't find Rupert who is usually pounding on the door to get in when we get up. We set up a family dragnet and it took just a few minutes before our daughter discovered Rupie, lying on his back, drenched, and quite dead and stiff in the middle of the cornfield. The wail of mourning from our kids was primal. We buried him last night, wrapped in a cloth with ashes, and bid him goodbye and thanks for the unnamable comforts he brought us.
There are arguments as to whether pets go to heaven or not. Frankly, I don't care what anybody says about it. It is logical to me that since God gave us the ability to love animals, and they can love us, that the curtain of death will not continue to separate us ultimately. When death separates loved ones, I believe that it is for just a little while. One day we all will see each other again - fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and relatives, and dogs, cats, and other animals. And boy will I be glad to see my Rupie.
Written in January, 2003
Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.