Monday, August 23, 2010

In Memorium: Blackie

About five years ago, a black cat crossed my family's path.

It was a bitterly cold winter night when the cat appeared at our front door. He seemed friendly enough but since he was missing one of his canine teeth we weren't sure if he was just recently lost or had been in the wild for a while. That first night, we put him in our barn with some milk, a box and a blanket. The next night he was in our downstairs bathroom. Within a week, we had taken him to the vet for his shots and he was part of the family.

Since that time, we all grew to love Blackie despite and because of his active nature and frequent vocalizations. He was a wrestler who took on all comers. Whether wrestling with our other cat Sweettart or myself, he attacked with gusto but never malice. He was very affectionate, not necessarily a lap cat, but he always wanted to be with people. On the arm of a chair, walking across your keyboard, on a chair at dinner or just on the floor in whatever room was occupied, Blackie was there.

His need to be with people was reflected in his dislike for closed doors. Whether in the middle of the day or middle of the night, if you were in your room with the door closed he would meow outside of it until it opened. Yes, even the bathroom. At that time, he might or might not stay to visit, but that was his choice, not yours.

He loved going outside, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for an hour but he almost exclusively stayed in our yards, especially the back yard where he could sniff the large variety of plants, roll in the patch of cat mint or lounge in the sun on the walkway. His love of the outdoors made going in or out a door a challenge as he developed a knack for hanging just far enough away to lull you in and then, boom, out he went.

When we went out as a family, he was at the front door when we returned. None of us were sure if he greeted us because he missed us or wanted to go out, but he was always there, nevertheless.

Unfortunately, as it is with pets, time began to catch up with Blackie. Visits to the vet became more frequent. When we had to put him in the hospital one day, we feared the worst. The first few times we visited, he could barely lift his head and even though he purred the entire time we were there, we were not hopeful. Then, on day five he began to eat. When we visited, he was able to walk around a little, and he even spent a few minutes cleaning himself. But, as sometimes occurs, it was his last good day. His temperature spiked, his kidneys began to fail and we were forced to make the decision to let him go.

Since he loved the back yard so much, we decided to bury him there. We placed him in the ground after an emotional ceremony, each of us tossing in some dirt through our tears and sobs.

Now, less than a week later, our home has changed. When I came home from work today, I didn't have to check if Blackie was lurking to dash out the door. There was no meowing at the bathroom door when I showered this morning. When I dangled my hand over the living room chair earlier tonight, no one pounced. And now, as I am keying this post, there is no distraction.

Blackie will be sorely missed.

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