Friday, October 24, 2008

The Kitten

This just feels wrong, writing this now. Andy has been dead maybe 3 weeks, and now The Kitten has now been missing for over 1. They were soulmates in that feisty, I-hate-you-now-let-me-love-on-you soulmate kind of way, the Archie and Edith of kitty companions. So in a way, it seems logical that a world without Andy meant a world without The Kitten, too. But I wasn't ready to lose them both. And not this way. Especially after this.

The Kitten wasn't supposed to be mine. I'd gone into a pet store to pick up some cat food for Andy and came out with this teeny tiny, truly beautiful creature. He had been placed in a cage next to this frightened, yawly Siamese who was just broken, and because he was broken, I was instantly attracted (an unfortunate m.o. at the time). As I tried to coax the terrified Siamese to the edge of the cage, I caught eyes with the little thing next door. He made the highest pitched little squeak, and then heart and soul, he was MINE. The pet store owner knew it and reassured me in low tones that the Siamese would find the right home. But I wasn't listening to her. He made my heart race as beautiful things do. It felt impulsive and wrong and selfish but I was hooked.

We ultimately landed on the name Tigger due to his constant, spazzy motion, but he was always The Kitten, like Norma Jean Baker was Marilyn Monroe. She's a fitting analogy, Marilyn - The Kitten was all beauty and energy and likely to dash right into oncoming traffic if the door was left open. This set up a seven year battle with the Little One (his other persistent nickname) where every open door could mean an escape from Alcatraz. I truly lost count over the years how many times I or my roommate Alexa or Caleb would go charging after the stupid cat down Mansfield, eventually dragging him out from underneath the neighbor's car or backyard or ventilation system.

When we moved to Memphis and had a baby and just didn't have the energy to care anymore, I let him go. He had always been my baby before the baby. He was too loving and gentle for the world at large, but he truly seemed at peace when he was allowed to join Andy in his escapades outside. So I let him go, and he, and we, were truly happy.

During the last couple of weeks after Andy's sudden passing, The Kitten regained his appetite and his energy. We started letting him have leftover bits of dinner right off the plate, and we took deep breaths when he howled to be let out at 4 AM. And that was the scenario last week when, at 4 AM, the dog needed to pee and The Kitten went charging past him outside. It was a minute or so before Caleb heard Murphy's low growl and the quickening of dogs' paws on the pavement. We'd had an incident with 2 stray pitbulls in the past when they'd chased Andy into the backyard by scaling our 4 foot fence. But they were gone and it was 4 AM and Caleb and Murphy came back inside.

We have not seen the Kitten since. We walk the neighborhood daily and check pet rescue sites and have put the word out to neighbors. But in our hearts we know the truth. I have difficulty bringing up his name in the house because the very thing I feared, that this sweet, truly kitten-like, truly beautiful eight year old cat was brutally killed, most likely happened early that morning. But mostly I imagine that he said F-off to the Sweazys and took up with a friendly, childless couple who shower him with affection and scratch him under teh chin and feed him occasional bits of turkey right off of the plate.

That I am sorry, Little One, doesn't come close to expressing how I feel. I feel like I failed you, and I miss you so.

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