Sunday, March 23, 2014

RIP Mr. Cat - An odd cat story

Mr. Cat (Cat Too) came to live with us while my mom was in the hospital and then became a permanent member of the family after she passed away.

The story of this cat is a bit odd and worth telling.

My mom had a cat for several years who was her best companion.  My mom owned one cat but only fell just short of being a crazy cat lady.  She was crazy for THIS cat.  His name was Mr. Cat.  In 2004 my mom was so disgusted with the lack of choices in the presidential race that she began a campaign for people to write in her cat.  Buttons and bumper stickers followed and before long several people in her neck of the woods were throwing their votes away on a large orange tabby cat.  I remember the conversation I had while joking with my mom:

Me:  I suppose he wouldn't do that well in the debates.

Mom:  What makes you say that?

Me:  He'd be asked about the war in Iraq and he'd just lick his butt.

Mom:  How is that any different than watching Kerry or Bush?

Bumper sticker from failed 2004 Mr. Cat for President campaign
That cat, that mom loved so much, got sick and died.  She was heartbroken.  Stack and stacks of notes and cards from people piled up on the table by her chair demonstrating how many people knew how much that cat meant to an old handicapped woman who lived by herself.

My brother was so concerned and rushed my mom to consider getting a new cat.  She didn't want one but my brother insisted.  I thought it was too soon but my mom went along with it and the next weekend they went together to a cat adoption place and my mom couldn't believe her eyes.  She saw Mr. Cat.  She took him home.

She called me that night and told me that she brought a cat home.  I thought my brother may have over-encouraged her to get one but she went on and on about how I would not believe that this new cat was exactly like the cat she loved so much.  I was skeptical and a bit worried that she was grieving so much that she was actually delusional.

A happy and healthy Cat Too taken last Fall

I went over to her house to mow the lawn and do other various household chores and of course to see this cat.  See was right; I was stunned.  He was the same size, body type and weight of her other cat.  He was large and had a big nose like her old cat.

"What are you going to name him?"  I asked.

"Mr. Cat 2" was her response.

"Oh that's original, just put a number two after him.  That's a lot to live up to"  I responded.

"No, Cat Too" she said as if I was stupid.

"Okay, whatever."

My mom always knew that the two cats were not the same cat but sometimes the reality of it blurred.  It wasn't long before she just called him "Mr. Cat" and the sadness of losing her first cat disappeared.  In other words my brother's dumb plan worked.

Cat Too with Skull and Cross Bone name tag.  Chairman Meow in the background.
Two months ago Cat Too got sick.  He battled some sort of cancer that had begun a tumor on his liver.  My brother and my older son didn't want him to be sick because they feared losing a connection to my mom all over again.  I spent all night with Cat Too two nights ago as he had difficulty moving and had stopped eating.  I didn't want him to suffer any longer so a family meeting was called.

Being a parent in these situations is so hard.  You can take care of it so many ways and not be wrong.  I wanted both my sons to have a full understanding of what was going on.  They both agreed they didn't want him to suffer anymore either.  As my 8 year old son said "We have no good choices.  We can only try to make right ones."

I've been criticized before in these situations. My older son was only 3 when our first cat, Chesty died and he wanted to help me bury him.  "How could you?" and "I can't believe you did that" was a common response to how it was handled.  My son still remembers that day and cherishes it as a dutiful and loving gesture to a pet.  History will judge me for how I handled it...but if things turn out well I'm going to shove it back in history's face.

My two sons placed a wreath on Cat  Too's grave
We held a funeral for Mr. Cat as he was buried in our side yard just a few feet from Chesty.  We all cried.  We suffered real loss this weekend.  More than just a cat but another connection to my mom who meant so much to all of us.  Thank you Cat Too for bringing my mom so much happiness when she needed it most.


Anonymous said...

We went through that when my mother's cat became ill after she had passed away. My sister had an extremely difficult time.
The vet had just been to a seminar about the grief caused when a last link to a beloved relative passes away too. She said in many ways it was almost as painful as losing the loved one.
Nice that you handled it so well for your children and yourself.
r.i.p. Mr Cat Too

Liggie said...

When we decided to put our aging dog Buddy to sleep, my then-7-year-old niece drew him a picture of she and her brother crying with him, and then them smiling with him. It was all I could do to keep it together when I saw it.

As for that 2004 election, it reminded me of that Bloom County comic where Opus votes, then gets a pie in the face from the voting machine, and sees grumpy people everywhere with pie dripping off their faces.